Tag Archives: clarinet

The Case of the Careless Clarinet

Keep your instruments out of the heat

Keep your instruments out of the heat

As the weather finally warms up, I want to remind you all to remember heat can have a detrimental effect on the functioning of musical instruments. The best place to store your instrument is in the case and out of the heat or extreme cold.

For example, I have read that in the summer when the temperature rises to 90 degrees, your car can reach 110 degrees in just 10 minutes with all the windows shut.

A few summers ago, a young student arrived at my house for her weekly lesson.  She had a student model clarinet, which was made of plastic.  The intermediate and professional models are made of   African black wood also know as Granadilla wood.

Each week as I greeted her at the door, I noticed her clarinet was always out of its case tucked under her arm like a baton.

One attribute of the clarinet that makes it a more challenging instrument is that it is an open hole instrument. This means most of the holes have a ring over them that when pushed down cause the other keys to function.  The finger tips have to close the holes in order to create the notes as opposed to the saxophone, which is a  brass closed hole instrument,  because it has solid  keys that you press with your fingers to produce the notes.

Other examples of open hole instruments are the flute and the bassoon.

As each week passed, instead of my young student gaining more control over those open holes, she seemed to be getting less and less sound until she reached a point where no sound was being produced at all.

In my attempt to figure out how to help her, I noticed that her clarinet was looking odd.  None of the rings matched where the holes were, and they were somewhat elongated and the instrument was misshapen.  Closer inspection revealed that the instrument had melted as if it were in a Salvador Dali painting.   I tried playing her instrument and I couldn’t produce a sound.

That’s when I asked her, “Where do you store your clarinet? “  Her reply was “I keep it in the car, in the back where the speakers are outside of the case”

As we say farewell to the winter and move into the spring, just a reminder, temperature changes affect everything especially musical instruments.  Take care to store them properly and they will give you many years of service and enjoyment.

9 More Reasons Music Lessons are Important


music lessons are worthwhile at any age

music lessons are worthwhile at any age









Several exciting studies have recently been published showing a correlation between brain development and music lessons in young children. These studies show that children eight and younger who play an instrument develop stronger cognitive skills and keep them for life. Mozart began composing songs at age 5 and Beethoven was reported to be 71/2 when he gave his first performance. Does this mean parents should rush out and start music lessons to develop the next great musical prodigy? Or that if you over the age of 8 you’ve missed out on the melodic marvel of music education. Of course not.

As a life-long musician and music teacher, these studies support my belief in music education. Older studies also show that music lessons are beneficial whenever students begin.

Music lessons provide more than brain development. The best music instruction will only help if the student plays an instrument he or she enjoys and will actually practice. Without practice there is no music.

Here are some of my reasons music lessons are important

  1. Music lessons nurture an appreciation for music and creativity.
  2. Music lessons teach you to read music and master timing and rhythm.
  3. Music lessons teach responsibility and time management
  4. Music lessons teach students who play in bands and orchestras how to work together in a group.
  5. Music lessons challenge students to be self-competitive – think about wanting to be the first chair or having a solo in a performance.
  6. Music lessons develop public appearance skills. A two-minute public performance may take months of preparation and then a whole lot of nerve to perform.
  7. Music lessons make you interesting – who doesn’t like hanging out with the musician at the party or lead a sing-a-long.
  8. Music lessons travel well.
  9. Music is universal and anything we can learn to help us connect with other people should be encouraged at any age.

I’ll stop at 9 reasons but I could go on for dozens more. If I may help you on your musical journey give me a call. I teach saxophone, clarinet, and flute. And when you study with me, you always sit in the first chair.

Barry Fleischer, February 2014