What's Written

You could call it laziness, you could call it an educational exercise, but what you can't call it is a waste of time. I'm a clarinet player, which means I'm used to seeing a lot of notes that aren't necessarily musically important. One of the ways I learn music is to simplify it. I naturally gravitate toward more musical pieces with less virtuosic technique, but that is almost impossible to avoid when you study any music formally, especially clarinet solo standards.

The music below is an excerpt from one of the etudes that I'm currently working on. How would you simplify it to make it easier for sight reading and understanding?

Here's what I did to the first 8 bars:

  1. Anything that looks like a flourish or a turn is OUT.
  2. Anything that is an elaboration of a longer note is OUT.
  3. Big flourishes become eighth note points.
reduced 20 grand studies clarinet etude

I actually practiced like this before I added the other notes in, and guess what? The flourishes were more even and more in time than if I had practiced them from the beginning. I often forget to practice like this because I get so stressed about learning all the notes. I need to remember that this is how you learn all these notes in such a short period of time!

Disagree with my reduction? Awesome! I love to discuss music - feel free to leave me a comment below or reach out to me by email. I'm more than happy to write retractions for anyone who convinces me. :)

Have no idea what I'm talking about, but want to learn? These skills are learned partly by composing! We only have a couple spots left in our Young Composers Camp. Learn all about this and the exciting world of composing! OR take private lessons and discuss how you can get out of practicing a bunch of notes with your own personal teacher! Happy practicing :D

Ashley Wright

Ashley has a breadth of experience in administration, music, and music management. She currently works as the Office Registrar at the Nashua Community Music School and manages the New England Chamber Players and Barbershop Ladies of Tallahassee (where she was a founding member). Ashley designed and implemented both the NECP and BLT websites, as well as designed the BLT logo. She was formerly an usher and stage crew member at the Florida State University Ruby Diamond Auditorium, and a resident assistant and office assistant at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

Ashley has played with the Nevers’ Second Regiment Band, the Southern New Hampshire University Wind Symphony, and she attended the Belgian Clarinet Academy last summer. She recently graduated with a BA in Music from Florida State University as a clarinet major, where she studied with Dr. Deborah Bish. For other musical accomplishments: last year, Ashley composed a film score that was recorded by the Florida State University Philharmonia Orchestra and played tenor saxophone and sung backup vocals in the FSU Ruby Diamond Auditorium for the FSU Blues Band with Charles Atkins.

She received her first bachelor's degree in physics (with a music minor) from Boston University. She worked as an engineer for two years in Quality Assurance and Software before returning to school for her music degree, and she spent last summer as a software intern. She has a lot of experience developing independent Python tools, especially for data processing.