Posts Tagged ‘clarinet music’

Playing the clarinet

March 4, 2019

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3380Two years ago I finally decided to take up a new instrument, and I chose the clarinet. It was portable (unlike the piano – even the electric piano), and is played in jazz, klezmer and classical music. What more could one wish for?

So I purchased a student clarinet, found a teacher, Gillian Armstrong, and set to. I’d never played a blowing instrument before (apart from an unsuccessful attempt with a fluke quite a long time ago), so it was a bit of a revelation to discover that one had to control breath, fingering and tonguing all at once. This from a piano player who’d never had to contend with those sorts of issues at all.

However, the ability to add so much expression to a melody line, the ability to take a note and crescendo and diminuendo on it, and the way in which the tonguing could alter a phrase was entirely new to me. And practise was critical. I soon discovered that I needed to play every day, or I might as well not try to learn a new instrument at all.

So at last, yesterday evening, I plucked up my courage, and played the tune Carrickfergus at the Dunblane folk club. It went well. Just the one tune: I’ll need to practice some others now!


David Vernon and Dick Lee play the Tolbooth, Stirling.

June 2, 2012

I went to see David Vernon and Dick Lee playing at the Tolbooth in Stirling this afternoon. David plays the accordion, and Dick plays clarinet (B flat and base), and together they played an eclectic mixture of tunes. Starting off with a Jewish tunes medley, and then a mixture of Balkan and Scottish tunes, with some unusual blues thrown in for good measure. I particularly liked the jazz-influenced Scottish tunes – some were the sort of thing that you can get thrown out of a very traditional folk club for playing: jazzing up and improvising over traditional tunes. Now, I occasionally play piano behind fiddlers in a local pub (The Tappit Hen), and I’d dearly love to be skilled enough to do what Dick was doing and mix the traditional with the jazzy, even if I’m not entirely sure what the locals would make of it!

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon that listening to David and Dick playing, and making the odd joke at each others expense. And even listening to David playing their Scottish Surprise, where he plays Scottish tunes whilst changing key as fast as possible, while Dick improvises a jazz line over them! It was really good to hear. I’ve heard Dick play in many different bands (I have no idea how many bands he’s played in), even back to having his band Swing ’87 who played at my wedding. He’s looking very well – he looks a lot younger than me, but I’m sure we were the same age when we first met!