It has been well over 10 years since I increased my lesson prices. However, due to the rising cost of everything (I'm sure you're well aware!), I have decided, regretfully, that I must also put my fees up.
From now on the cost for private clarinet lessons (in person or online) will be:
30mins: £20 (approx grades 1-5)
1 hour: £40 (approx grades 5-8)
1h30m: £50 (consultation lessons/Grade 8+)
Thank you for your understanding!
I'm delighted to be able to announce that our concert of 'Summer Classics' will be going ahead as planned on 31st July! Tickets can be purchased using the link below, and under 12s are free!
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS
Attendees at the first ever Ulster ClariNetwork symposium were treated to a talk on the historical clarinet by my friend and colleague, Sarah Smith. I have always had a fascination for/been curious about historical instruments and period performance etc, however it isn't something I studied at college, and as it's a rather 'niche' area I've always just tinkered away quietly. I am lucky enough to have a number of early/historical instruments which are in playing condition but until recently I hadn't even played them all...
My 5-keyed boxwood C clarinet was a wedding present from my husband - almost 14 years ago now! Unfortunately the C clarinet mouthpiece I have didn't fit it, and (duh!) I didn't even consider putting an Eb mouthpiece on it - I suppose when you don't even know what the 'rules' are it's easy to think you're not 'allowed' to break them! Who know I could be so well behaved?
Happily Sarah told me to just bung it on and make up the fingerings - so I have! What a lovely clarinet it turned out to be :) I'm delighted to be able to play it and am now looking forward to some duets with Sarah!
The last year has not been kind to musicians, but if there are some silver linings, its the beginning of new creative connections such as this.
It has been a whole year since lockdown, and almost a year since I dived in with my first free online workshop... Our kids have been home educated for the majority of the last 12 months... Regular music education is much greater than the sum of its parts; it helps children to 'self-regulate', to recognise and express their emotions, it helps them to develop focus & good attention, enhances their self-confidence, and helps to improve their listening skills. Music can also be used to help teach core subjects such as Maths and English, and it can link in with other areas of learning too.
My live online workshops last summer taught me so much and enabled me to develop my professional practice in a way I had never imagined possible. I was able to bring this learning forward into my work during the rest of lockdown. I am so grateful to everyone who took part in the workshops, and especially fed back on the content!
I have decided to offer short, 4 week courses of FUN, INTERACTIVE ZOOM workshops for children beginning in July 2021. It is important to note that whilst this these workshops will be 'educational' - they aren't school! The focus will be on fun, confidence-building exercises that your children will enjoy. No special equipment will be required!
If you would like to find out more about these workshops, please complete the contact form below, and I will keep you posted! I promise NO SPAM and I won't share your details with anyone.
Meantime, if your children are heading back to school soon, perhaps a quick reminder of the elbow dab won't hurt - scroll down the page! Keep well everyone x
FREE Online Workshops
2021 UPDATE - PLEASE NOTE - the live workshops have ended now, but you can watch them back on the Facebook page! If you'd like to organise some remote learning for yourself or a child/ren, get in touch!
Due to the Coronavirus crisis, my in-person workshops have had to be suspended indefinitely. I am missing you all!
In the meantime, I have decided to do what I can to help you continue to educate your children at home. That's why I am providing free live-streamed musical workshops for children aged 4 - 7 (Key Stage 1) and 7 - 11 (Key Stage 2). Key Stage 1 workshops will focus on the development of fundamental musical skills such and listening, pitch and pulse. Key Stage 2 workshops will build on this, introducing the use of a basic instrument (ukulele) and continuing to develop awareness of pitch, pulse, rhythm, musical structure, how instruments work etc. My hope is that parents will also enjoy taking part in these workshops with their children and we can all learn together!
The times of the workshops are:
Key Stage 1: every Wednesday at 11am
Key Stage 2: every Friday at 11am
My personal philosophy is that music supports good mental health and emotional development, and so my aim is to help your child develop a healthy musical mind during this stressful time.
I am new to the world of live-streamed workshops, so in a way we'll be learning together - but this is the world we live in and music is vital! My goal is to reach 1000 subscribers on my YouTube channel so that I will be able to broadcast live to more people, but until then I will live-stream via this Facebook Group and my Facebook page.
I continue to teach clarinet and saxophone during this time (beginners to advanced), using Skype, WhatsApp or Zoom. Please do get in touch if you're interested in on-line lessons.
Please feel free to share this information with your friends! Thank you, and I look forward to connecting with you all on-line x
Well, I am definitely guilty of losing sight of the fun... Worse still during the last 11 years I've taken considerable time off for each of my children. At one point I even put the clarinet down quite deliberately with the intention of never playing again. I was worn out with some elements of the industry. In the end I missed playing too much though, and chose to get back on the horse. I didn't have a goal in mind, I just wanted to play. After a while I started to work again, but I promised myself I would try very hard to keep the spirit of the woman who had just wanted to play her clarinet.
My reason for doing #100daysofpractice is very simple. I want to. It is a good motivator for me. It's not because I want everyone to think I'm wonderful (let's face it, sharing practice videos is everyone's worst nightmare and it could well have the opposite effect!), but it is because I want to push myself and share the journey. Playing an instrument is wonderful, and the journey you make within yourself when you commit to self-improvement is amazing. Music is more than how you play, it's about what you share with other people WHEN you play. It's about how other people can relate to you through watching and listening. It is about being human - my goal in sharing is to be human.
Now, OF COURSE I play the clarinet so practice is already a part of my life, but I'm almost always practising FOR something... When I started this process on 01-01-2020 though, that was NOT the reason. I was actually on my holidays :)
So as week one draws to a close, here are a few initial thoughts:
The world of social media is scary. Heck the world of classical music is scary! It makes you feel inadequate and the loud personalities dominate, particularly (it seems) when it comes to the clarinet. Many people worry about being 'found out' though, even people who come across as confident. Self-doubt is actually far more common than you may realise*. We are not all such strong personalities, BUT there is a place for everyone. There is a place for me and there is a place for you, and so I invite you to join me on this journey... It is a journey of self-improvement, and it requires humility - but I do not think you will regret it. I'm only a week in and whilst I know I will have some tough days ahead, I am committed. I can't wait to see what the next 93 days have in store.
You can find me on Instagram at @_anneclarinet. My profile is set to private (because it's a personal profile) but you can request to follow me and I'd love to follow your #100daysofpractice in return.
*If you struggle with nerves, try this blog.
I believe in equality - so I believe that like the best sportsmen and women, musicians should understand their physiology in order to perform at their best.
Here's an example. Over the years I've found that I perform better when I'm slightly hungry. I concentrate better... I put this down to some evolutionary necessity which developed to give our hunter-gatherer ancestors an edge when they were hungry. It's just a theory but I stand by it! I build this awareness into my pre-concert planning.
Most women have menstrual cycles, and musicians with female bodies between the ages of (roughly) 12 - 50 perform during ALL phases of their menstrual cycle.
And pregnant. We even do it pregnant too...
So, as someone who has been managing these variations all my adult life, I have decided to share some of the things I've learned.
Brace yourselves ;)
The other day I was preparing for a concert and I was also getting my period. Deep joy.
The first day of my cycle generally sucks a bit.
Unanimous advice from my friends in the changing room: take the painkillers now and don't wait for it to get worse. Voices of experience.
Now I don't like to take many pills, but in some situations I'll make an exception and this was one of those situations. I needed to be able to concentrate for the gig, and pain can be distracting! I chose to take ibuprofen (in case you're wondering), because I've noticed that paracetamol can also dull my brain a little. Have you noticed this? Perhaps not, but it's a powerful drug and studies have shown that paracetamol does seem to affect the way the brain functions. So it's worth bearing in mind.
I've also noticed that there are times when I can find breath control more challenging. Often this is before a period when my progesterone levels are higher. Of course, there's a physiological reason for this too, oxygen consumption increases in the luteal phase of your cycle. Top athletes build this kind of awareness into their training regimes. Similarly if I notice this happening I can simply manage it & I have strategies for doing so! I quite like breathing as it happens, and I'm good at it ;) I also noticed similar challenges when I was pregnant.
Now it's possible that some of you are thinking to yourselves:
'See, THIS is why women aren't up to the job'... Well, sorry boys, I've got news for you!
Whilst these changes may make some aspects of performing a little more challenging for women, it turns out that our bodies are well up to the challenges :) It is possible that many people are totally unfazed by these subtle changes too, everyone is different. What's important is that (if necessary), we can learn to manage these things, but we don't do that by pretending they don't exist!
Studies on top athletes have concluded 'that, while a woman’s body will change during her monthly cycle, her performance is unlikely to be significantly enhanced or weakened.'
Lower testosterone levels are also associated with enhanced cognitive empathy - something which lies at the heart of our art-form. Empathy may enable us to better connect with, and respond to, our colleagues and our audience.
'Females on average outperform males in this cognitive empathy, and the male sex hormone testosterone is thought to be involved. '
'A high testosterone, low cortisol profile has been linked with competitiveness and aggressive behaviour. This profile has also been associated with psychopathy, a mental condition defined by anti-sociality, egotism, and impaired empathy.'
Let's hear it for those empathetic beta-males eh?
Recognising how our unique bodies work and learning to navigate the changes this may present is not something we should avoid discussing in my view.
I believe it can only enhance our profession and deepen our understanding of how we do what we do.
Do you have anything to add? I'd be interested to hear from you!
Thanks for reading.
(PS. I have found that using a period-tracking app on my phone has really helped me to look after myself and work out when I need to be particularly mindful!)
Working with new reeds...
Human beings are creatures of habit. Over the course of my life I have somehow found myself working out a method for handling reeds which is basically a combination of trial and error and great tips from other clarinettists.
This blog is not a 'how to' - it's just a description of what I do. Everyone has their own 'rituals' and I'd love to hear what yours entail!
No matter how good the brand, reeds are not entirely reliable straight out of the box - if you play on them too much to begin with they can change a huge amount. They can start out great and then five minutes later they've turned to tissue paper! I find that running them in gently like this gives them greater stability/ reliability and can help them play better for longer.
We all know that a happy reed = a happy clarinettist! So for whatever it's worth, here's
I'll venture further down the reed-rabbithole in future blogs. Meantime, I hope this has been helpful! Let me know how you get on, and please add any tips of your own in comments :) I'd love to hear from you!
Confessions of a Reed-Footerer: Part 1
('footer' - colloquial term meaning to fiddle/ mess about/ tinker with etc)
'Down wiv da kidz'
I realise that I'm probably a little late to the party with this one, but thought it was worth a share anyway...
First of all, a confession: I bore really easily, and over the last year I have actually found videoing my playing to be a really helpful practice tool. Not only can I listen back easily (and therefore pick holes in every single thing I do!), but I can also watch my hands and face as I play. We all 'teach' ourselves all the time, but this process allows me to observe my playing from a totally different perspective. Practising using video technology has helped me to spot issues I think I might otherwise have missed. I can also set myself goals, and at the end of the process I feel I've achieved something. This week I took the whole thing a stage further and downloaded the 'acapella' app - and basically it's tons of fun :)
Previously, recording multi-track video was a total nightmare (and involved using MovieMaker multiple times, and making my own click track.... ), I did a 4-part recording this way at Christmas-time last year and nearly drove myself mad! This app makes it all so much easier. It's dead easy to use, and you can set your own click track to suit & listen back as you add more layers. The free version will only give you a couple of minutes recording time (and be warned you need lots of spare memory if you're going to record for longer or with more layers!), but I paid for the full version, and am actually really impressed. Whoever designed this knew what musicians would need and how to make it intuitive to use. One nit I would pick though, is that there doesn't *seem* to be a way to balance up the parts/ screens before doing the final render. Some sort of separate mix-desk for the audio would be helpful. Perhaps there is one and I've just not found it yet!
Recording in this way is great for improving things like rhythm, intonation, and listening skills. You can even collaborate with other users of the app. This makes it a really fun and creative practice tool.
This weekend my better half whipped up an arrangement for me and the result is below (clarinet geeks, I'll post a link to where you can buy it shortly!). No this recording isn't perfect, but hey, it was lots of fun to make and I've been stunned by the number of shares & positive feedback! Watch 'til the end ;)