For many years, I have been fielding questions from students of the clarinet on virtually all levels of accessibility and ability. Iniitially ,I was advised as to repertoire by my teachers. I knew no repertoire, had a pleasant enough sound, could play all of the notes on the clarinet with a reasonably good sound, and I b elieved that the sound of the clarinet was and is the most beautiful aspect of the instrument. Of course, making a beautiful sound is quite important, the ability to weave your sound in with the flow of the music is more crucial and, it is at this point that the art of the clarinet and the artist himself begin to join together in the making of the music itself.It is actually when you experience the first real joy of making music, when your sound and pitch and abilities to ebb and flow with the phrase and to feel that visceral quality of being an integral part of the music itself . I can remember quite clearly first joining in on a musical line while being a member of an ensemble playing chamber music. It was a piece by Mozart, an arrangement of one of the divertimenti, for five or six clarinets. The conductor brought us in, gave us the tempi and I was suddenly drawn into a hypnotic flow of notes and rhythms, which gave me an absolutely unique feeling. I was for the first time, an actual part of a piece of living music. I cannot remember ever being so excited and aroused in an artisitc way. Part of something musical, having to do with a group all having the same goal of playing a single piece together. The music came to a halt, then repeated itself and I found myself playing a series of connecting notes which seemed to join the two parts together. There were shivers running up and down my spine as I realised I had played my part as written and that my part connected the two sections of the piece. Can anyone reading this remember s similar experience, the first time being an integral part of a piece of music. a live player, playing a written part in a piece of chamber music, a few solo notes which connected two parts of the work. If you do, and I do hope there are many, you remember what sheer excitement and pleasure in music was and is. Playing chamber music becomes a great gift, a blessing, if you will.
(to be continued.)