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Monday, May 30, 2011

Clarinet On Memorial Day

As a clarinetist in the military, today takes on a different meaning. Before I was in the military, I would spend this weekend with friends or family and enjoy my extra day off. Now, as you may imagine, I play concerts or ceremonies to honor the people who gave their lives for our country. 

I have interviewed other military clarinetists in the past and asked them all about their level of patriotism before and after joining the military. I wasn't surprised to hear that they all do feel more patriotic now that they're in the military. Here are their answers:




KLM: Do you feel any more or less patriotic than you were before being in a military band?


 
(Shawn Herndon) -  I'd say when I first got into the band, it was more about it just being a gig regardless of the fact that it happened to be a military band. As I've gotten older and the job has turned into a career, I have become quite proud to serve my country in this capacity.
 


K.L.M. Do you feel any more or less patriotic than you were before being in a military band?



(Tim Sutfin) - I feel exponentially more patriotic. After spending 2.5 months in basic training with young kids about to go risk their lives for their country, you can't help but feel more proud to be serving America. Also, seeing the looks on peoples faces when you play Stars and Stripes Forever in front of the Capitol Building, or Washington Monument always gets me a little choked up.
 

K.L.M - Do you feel any more or less patriotic than you were before being in a military band?



(Leigh Lafosse) - Much more. Something about training with 17 years old who will genuinely fight for a country they believe in makes the goose bumps quicker to rise now-a-days.

 






K.L.M. What would you say the highlights of your career in the Field Band were?



(Tom Puwalski) Two particularly come to mind. We were in France playing the 45th anniversary of D day. We did a bunch of gigs on the beach for survivors. We were then scheduled to march a parade through the first French town liberated by the Allies, St. Mare Eglese. The Brits were playing their march, Colonel Bogey, the French band was playing the French National Defelay. The Belgians were doing the Belgian Parachutist.  We were playing Black Horse Troop, a really good Sousa march but not of the same gravitas as the music of the other groups.  We went to the drum major and asked to change it to Stars and Stripes, he asked the commander who told him that he’s in charge on the parade field, so he changed it. Now the Field Band is pretty much a concert band, we very rarely marched, and we ended every concert with Stars and Stripes with a huge ritard in the trio, and it was no different on the street. The next day the French newspapers said that the Field band is the only band they've ever seen actually march a precision ritard.  When we turned the corner onto the main street of that town, the French were waving American flags in each window. I had Goosebumps. My grandfather had marched through the same town 45 years earlier as a trumpet player.

The second happened a few years later. I was doing a solo on a concert and just before the announcer was to introduce me, he went to the mic and said, “ladies and gentlemen we are pleased to announce that as of 1500 hrs Zulu Time, all hostilities in the Gulf have Ceased, the war is over. Please welcome tonight’s soloist Staff Sergeant Tom Puwalski”. To perform a solo after that was truly amazing experience. I was really aware that I got to take a bow for all the men and women who engaged in that conflict. There was electricity in the air after that announcement.




I have really enjoyed my time with the West Point Band, a job that has offered me many opportunities and happy memories already. To close up this posting, I am going to share some of my favorite "work photos." Enjoy your extra day off!



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Italian Clarinetist Gianluca Campagnolo Shares "What's Up" in Modica, Italy

The first submission I got to the blog about sharing "what's up in your area" came from Italian clarinetist Gianluca Campagnolo. He has an extensive resumé and sound clips that can be seen on his website. Gianluca has chosen to share with us his recent publication "New Complete Method for Clarinet" and CD's for clarinet choir!

KM: Could you also describe the clarinet choir CD projects? Why did you record the music and who is playing?

GC: There are the two CDs,  Original Piece for Clarinet Choir, and Transcription for Clarinet Choir. The clarinetists are from the Mediterranean area and I'm the conductor.




KM: To listen to a sample of the CD Original Piece for Clarinet Choir

-and-

... to hear the transcriptions for clarinet choir CD sample. Gianluca has many CD's available on his website to listen.


KM: What is it like studying clarinet in Italy?

GC: Studying the clarinet in Italy stops around 1920! So I've decided to write something to cover this "Gap."

The guiding idea behind this new method is the awareness that it is possible to form the musician (and the clarinettist in particular) not at random, as it happens (when it happens) today, but only through a unique journey of highly interdisciplinary instruction, in which the instrument and the musical literature specifically for the instrument support in a lively and direct manner the experience of the student in the exploration of musical forms, genres, and styles.

The Lesson Plan:
“New Complete Method for Clarinet.” a didactic plan structured in 360 weeks, moves the student forward in a gradual method of study and systematic progress. I think, in fact, that repetition is the basis of good learning. Certain patterns, if they are repeated many times, return to be of use in the future. This method wishes to avoid any superficiality in the means of study. A good method of study, combined with a good teacher (honest and conscientious), and with consistency of time dedicated to study, are the fundamentals of the path to the professional and artistic career of the student. This very gradual model is really a scientific model. It is based on constancy and on the desire to arrive at the first important goal (for many that would be the final examination in clarinet). Every day, the student must increase his daily practice. Every 7 days, the teacher must verify the student's work. This aspect of gradualness may be observed in the Staccato (each week the student increases by one increment on the metronome to arrive, for example, only after 160 weeks at performing the 16th note at 120); or also on the Chromatic Scale Training, where instead the rhythmic values are increased (from quarter note to 64th; also in this case over the course of 120 weeks). I have also included the approximately 1800 fingerings for obtaining different tone colors, tremolos, multiphonics, and substitute fingerings. Intonation Training sounds the unisons, the octaves, the fifths, the fourths, the thirds, etc., through a course of 160 weeks. With Exercises and studies each week the student confronts a new technical feature, an articulation with the fingers, a rhythmic pattern, a melodic study.

Music for Clarinet, Clarinet Discography and The Great Clarinetists:
"Chamber music for Clarinet" outlines music from duets to quintets, music with piano and with other instruments. Clarinet Repertoire is the attempt to create a complete work of the original compositions for clarinet; it has a chronological order of composers and works, including title, instruments, and opus number. The book examines exclusively the compositions for the soprano-clarinet (Bb or A) and original solo-clarinet literature, clarinet and orchestra and all the ensembles with clarinet (from duo to chamber ensemble). "Clarinet Discography" is an extensive recordings list from the beginning of the history of recording up to the present. "The Great Clarinetists" is a list that covers more than 300 clarinet virtuosi from the eighteenth century until the second half of nineties; the work considers their professional training, the participation to national and international musical contest and awards received; the concert player activity as soloist – duo with piano, chamber and orchestral ensemble – didactics and recordings.

KM: Thanks so much to Gianluca for sharing, and I hope to bring more articles like this to Clarineticus Intergalacticus soon!






Monday, May 2, 2011

Not all the clarinet, but some great music.



My good friend Nathan Douds recently released a CD of originals. There is some clarinet... The music is great- have a listen and enjoy!

Nathan Douds Ensemble

Nathan Douds - Compositions/Drums/Percussion
Jason Kush - Saxophones and Clarinet
Justin Endler - Voice, Laptop, and Alto Saxophone
Kurt Kotheimer - Double Bass and Programming
Dan Murphy - Piano
Daniel Bruce - Guitar and Effects