An Issue of Access by Julia Heinen

Auditions, Clarinet, Clarinet Teachers and Professors, Classical clarinetists-female, Covid-19, Orchestra, Teaching, Uncategorized

Notes from Diana: Some time ago I asked colleagues what is necessary to help music majors become better prepared for our 21st century world. Many great ideas were suggested. One interesting conversation developed around the audition process for incoming college students, and how the current system might discourage students who do not have the privileges associated with being raised in a wealthier environment. Even questions on applications seem to focus on students in higher economic brackets, who have access to better instruments, regular private lessons, live in areas with large school orchestra or band programs and attend summer music camps. The question becomes: what are the goals of a college music education and what should they be? Now more than ever as we struggle with the viability of arts during the Covid-19 pandemic, I thought we might start this conversation with an excellent article by Dr. Julia Heinen, Professor of Clarinet at California State University, Northridge. Julia Heinen is known for her outstanding musicianship as a clarinetist and also for her great clarinet studio at Northridge, which is brimming with students from many backgrounds who excel in their chosen field of study. Hopefully more understanding, thoughtful conversation, and real change may ensue. I welcome your feedback in the comments below.

An Issue of Access

by Julia Heinen, Professor of Music (clarinet) – California State University, Northridge

The mission of the university that I teach at and have taught at for the past 25 years states “California State University, Northridge exists to enable students to realize their educational goals.” As a faculty member, I live this mission and have for every year I have been at a state institution. It is imperative that we serve the students of our state and offer them the opportunity to obtain a world-class education.

For the past several years, I have been bothered by comments I hear in the audition and acceptance process of potential music majors. They are the questions to our auditionees about whether or not they have had private study prior to auditioning for CSUN. I wonder if the English Department asks if a student has had private tutoring prior to applying to study English at our university. I would suspect in that case, the answer is no. In the Music Department, we receive various answers to this question: “Yes, for 4 years,” “Yes, I took 2 lessons before my audition,” and “No, I haven’t.” It makes me uncomfortable that we seem to be putting a socio-economic barrier on our prospective students. In some way are we giving them the idea that if they have not studied privately prior to auditioning, they are second-class citizens and have less chance of acceptance than students who have? 

This is quite a dilemma for me as I consider the issue of access. I believe that all students auditioning for music programs in a state university should have the same opportunity and access to attend without having any additional preparation other than the education they received in their high school. We should, as the professionals, be able to assess someone who has not had the additional and often expensive benefit of private study and know that by the end of their 4-years of undergraduate education they can achieve the same (if not higher) level of musicianship than students who have had that opportunity. I realize that this will result in my having to teach more of the “craft” of playing the clarinet. I will have to demonstrate many more things than I will to students who have had prior private study. I know that it means that I might have a more difficult job ahead of making sure the plan that I have crafted for this student is one that will achieve success in their 4 short years with me. I also realize that I have to get them to learn more repertoire in this time than students who have had prior study. All of these things are fine with me. In fact, in some ways it’s easier. I hear at their audition and continue to hear in their lessons that they understand the “art” of playing music. No one taught them to replicate their teacher or a recording. They have an innate ability to play “music” whatever the genre and have a passion for sharing that with others.

While it may be true that not all these students will go on to be professional performers, it is also true that their love of music is what inspired them to come to college and pursue what they enjoyed in high school. It is at college that they find their path to another discipline but their love of music remains. As I tell my students who fear disappointing me with changing their major, “The great thing about music is that you can do it as an avocation and not as a vocation.” Dr. Julia Heinen

Porch Lessons

Clarinet, Clarinet Teachers and Professors, Practicing, Teaching

Are your eyes and brain fatigued from looking at a screen while teaching music lessons online for hours? Are you done with saying “what”? Are your ears burnt out, trying to listen through space for nuances in sound, articulation and technique that just cannot be heard? Maybe you feel like this music teacher.

Yeah, me too.  

While I am super-grateful for video conferencing programs that have allowed me to teach remotely, it is not the same as teaching in person. Sure, there are slick programs that promise great learning online, but for high-level work on a musical instrument NOTHING comes close to lessons in person. 

A couple of weeks ago a student sighed and said “Mrs. Haskell, I just wish I could see you.” 

Broke my heart. My students have been troupers, sending me recordings several times a week, smiling at every lesson, practicing incredibly well and improving….but I hear from parents who say their children are suffering in subtle ways. We humans are meant for relationship. In person! 

So I began to think about safe ways I could bring my local students back into my studio. Put up plastic sheeting? Open the windows? Fans/no fans? Air purifier? (I could find no residential air purifier that filters viruses). Nothing seemed safe enough, until I thought about our porch. It’s not huge but unless it’s pouring down rain, might I be able to continue lessons safely outside on our porch for a few months? I asked a nurse friend and studied CDC guidelines for distancing outside to come up with a plan. 

Then I asked each parent and every student what they thought. All were excited at the possibility. We agreed I would stay 10-12 feet away and would wear a mask. So I set up a chair and music stand outside, wiping down each surface. I added wipes for students too, and masks if someone felt safer that way…..though obviously not during playing! All surfaces would be wiped down between students. Here is the result, with my student Sam (who learns everything in a week — yes, really):

Look at that smile!
Not everyone has the luxury of a porch. But if you do have a porch or patio that is big enough to social  distance according to CDC guidelines, I can tell you that Porch Lessons are much more effective than online private teaching. Porch Lessons are now my interim way of teaching until further notice. 

In a few weeks I will write with an update. Happy teaching and may the world be restored soon.

Articulation: Warm Ups, Stroke Work, Flexibility and Stamina

Articulation, Clarinet, Clarinet Teachers and Professors, Clarinet Warm Ups, Practicing, Teaching, Tonguing, Uncategorized

Recently I updated the articulation packet on my website. Preference is given to working on articulation within music, but there are times when isolating the act of tonguing is helpful.

Assuming one’s air is supported properly, the embouchure is stable, and the player does not lack in endurance, the biggest issue is not tonguing speed. Rather, it is the learning a myriad of releases and lengths appropriate to any given musical style. Too many players, in their pursuit of higher/louder/faster, believe tonguing to be solely about speed. Yes, a quick tongue is necessary. But truly, articulation is a musical device. We must incorporate into our tonguing arsenal a wide variety of articulation styles—from uber-legato to semi-detached to marcatissimo—and everything in-between.

Finally, note that directions for these exercises are given in lessons, but do not appear in this packet.

Short List of Favorite Works for Clarinet by Women Composers

Clarinet, Clarinet Teachers and Professors, Classical clarinetists-female, Female Composers, Teaching, Uncategorized

What follows are clarinet works by women composers that I enjoy. Where possible I have added dates and country of origin. This list is not meant to be exhaustive in any way. But it is, hopefully, a starting point in your exploration of clarinet music written by women. 

Please! Right now I do not have time to respond to requests for additions. But I do have time to make corrections to anything in this list. Many thanks to my colleagues who assisted, including Mary Alice Druhan, David Niethamer, Georg Kühner, Brian Hill, and Dylan James.

Women Composers with Works for Clarinet

Berg, Stephanie (b. 1986): Three Prayers (2016)
American — Chamber: soprano, clarinet and piano

Brandon, Jenni (b. 1977): Chansons de la Nature pour la Clarinette
American — Unaccompanied

Clark, Rebecca (1886-1979): Duo For Clarinet and Viola    
English — Chamber: duo for clarinet and viola

Cleare, Ann (b. 1983) – eyam i (it takes an ocean not to) (2009-13)
Irish — Unaccompanied
Note: contemporary techniques abound! 

Feigin, Sarah (1928-2011):  Fantasy for Clarinet and Piano
Latvian — Clarinet/piano

Farrenc, Louise (1804–1875): Trio for clarinet, violoncello and piano Es-dur, op.44 (1861)
French — Chamber: trio

Fromm-Michaels, Ilse (1888-1986):  Stimmungen eines Fauns
German — Clarinet/piano

Fujiie, Keiko (b. 1963): Three Pieces
Japan — Unaccompanied

Gipps, Ruth (1921-1999) Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, Op. 9 (1940)
English — Concerto

Gipps, Ruth (1921-1999) The Kelpie Of Corrievreckan for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 5b (1939)
English — Clarinet/piano

Gotkovsky, Ida (b. 1933) Solo Clarinet Sonata
French — Unaccompanied

Gotkovsky, Ida (b. 1933) Concerto
French — Clarinet/piano; concerto

Gotkovsky, Ida (b. 1933): Chanson for clarinet and piano
French — Clarinet/piano

Hemenway, Edith (b. 1926): Question of Travel (2007)    
American — Chamber: trio for clarinet, cello and piano    
Note: Hemenway’s clarinet music may be heard on the recording entitled ‘To Paradise for Onions: Songs and Chamber Works of Edith Hemenway’. Nancy Braithwaite, Clarinet. 

Higdon, Jennifer (b. 1962): Clarinet Sonata
American — Clarinet/piano

Higdon, Jennifer (b. 1962): Dash
American — Chamber: trio for clarinet, violin, and piano

Holmès, Augusta Mary Anne (1847 – 1903): Fantasie (1900)
French/Irish — Clarinet/piano

Hoover, Katherine (1937-2018):  Ritual, Op. 41
American — Clarinet/piano

Hoover, Katherine (1937-2018): Set for Clarinet
American — Unaccompanied

Hyde, Miriam (1913-2005): Tangled Rope
Australian — Unaccompanied

Kraemer Schleicher, Caroline (1794-1850): Sonatina for A Clarinet and Piano
German — Clarinet/piano

Larsen, Libby (b. 1950-): Dancing Solo
American — Unaccompanied

Larsen, Libby (b. 1950): Licorice Stick for clarinet and piano (2002)
American — Clarinet/piano

Lim, Liza (b. 1966): Sonorous Body (2008)
Australian — Unaccompanied

Maconchy, Elizabeth Dame (1907-1994): Fantasy for clarinet and piano*
Irish-English — Clarinet/piano

Morishita, Chikako (b. 1981): Lizard for clarinet, trumpet, trombone (2011)
Japan — Chamber: trio

Musgrave, Thea (b. 1928) Threnody for Clarinet and Piano (1997)
Scottish-American — Clarinet/piano

Ran, Shulamit (b. 1949): Three Scenes For Clarinet
Israeli-American — Unaccompanied

Ran, Shulamit (b. 1949): For An Actor: Monologue For Clarinet in A
Israeli-American — Unaccompanied

Rueff, Jeanine (1922-1999): Concertino for clarinet and piano (1950)
French — Clarinet/piano

Saariaho, Kaija (b. 1952):  Duft (8 minutes) (2011)
Finland — Unaccompanied

Shatin, Judith (b. 1949): Meridians (1988)
American — Unaccompanied 

Smith, Mary Alice (also Meadows White)  (1839-1884): Sonata for A Clarinet and Piano
English — Clarinet/piano

Taillefere, Germaine (1892-1983): Sonate (1957)
French — Unaccompanied

Taillefere, Germaine (1892-1983): Arabesque (1973)
French — Clarinet/piano

Tower, Joan (b. 1938): Wings For Solo Clarinet or Bass Clarinet (1981)
American — Unaccompanied

Tower, Joan (b. 1938): Concerto for Clarinet (1988)
American — Concerto

Wasserman, Eva: The Generation of Hope For Clarinet Solo (1994) also arr. Clarinet and Orchestra
Israeli-American — Unaccompanied

Wasserman, Eva: Ode To Odessa for Solo Clarinet (2001) 
Israeli-American — Unaccompanied

Yi, Chen (b. 1953):  Monologue for Solo Clarinet
China — Unaccompanied


Should Teachers Play Along with Students In Lessons?

Clarinet, Clarinet Teachers and Professors, Clarinet Tips, Teaching, Uncategorized

Over many years of teaching, I’ve carefully considered how much to play clarinet along with students. Looking back at my own teachers, there were no fast rules. My high school teacher Jim Barkow played quite often with me, but at Eastman D. Stanley Hasty played rarely. Joe Allard never brought out his horn, but Mitchell Lurie got out his clarinet in lessons every week at Music Academy of the West.

I find that I model some aspect of clarinet playing at almost every lesson….with care. For me, it is important for students to become supremely comfortable playing for others. Lessons are an excellent opportunity for a mini-performance of assigned materials. Then after a run-through we go back and work. Concepts, fundamentals, tone and style are modeled during the working phase of lessons. Excerpts that feature first and second clarinet together may be used to work on more advanced concepts with college-age students. Duets are, of course, useful at any level.

If my advanced students express interest in teaching, I encourage them to demonstrate only after lesson assignments are heard…..and then model good clarinet habits when doing detail work. It is a learning process and a balance. Thankfully, if a teacher thinks they played too much one week, there is always next week to try something new!

Most students absorb instruction well when it is a mix of verbal, descriptive instructions and sound imitation. I model more often with young students because they seem to respond to it so well. Because I’m sitting so close to the student, they can feel, hear and imitate the resonance and/or pitch.

I asked my wonderful teaching colleagues for their philosophies of playing clarinet with students. Answers ranged from ‘never’ to Western Kentucky University’s Clarinet and Saxophone Professor, Dr. John Cipolla’s wonderfully succinct response:  ‘…always, a lot…’.

Dr. Julia Heinen, Professor of Clarinet at California State University, Northridge says this about playing with her college students: ‘…Early on, freshman and sophomore, I am demonstrating constantly for many reasons. One is to hear what a clarinet should sound like, what support sounds like, what different types of articulation sound like, etc. It’s really many times in a lesson. In addition, I play along with students a lot. First, at their pitch level and then an octave below so they can hear themselves. It’s really for me the quickest way to get concepts across. As they get into their junior and senior years, it gets much less. I need them to have the concept in their head or get it there, and if I demonstrate too much it becomes them imitating me rather than thinking for themselves and getting their concept across. At the grad level, it’s less except when I’m fixing issues. Then, I need to get it done quickly because I don’t have a lot of time with masters students since they do a recital quickly. My view about all of this, is that this is an oral tradition that is passed down from generation to generation. The sounds that students hear on a CD do not directly relate to what they should hear from themselves and me playing next to them gives them a much better idea of what kind of sound they should be hearing when they are playing themselves…’

Northwestern University Bienen School of Music Clarinet Professor Steven Cohen comments that he ‘always’ plays with his students. 

Dr. Diane Cawein-Barger, Professor of Clarinet, University of Nebraska-Lincoln states: ‘… ‘…For me, it depends on what a particular student needs. My teachers only picked up theirs instruments in a lesson if they really felt I needed to hear something; in fact, Mr. Marcellus rarely played in my lessons, but perhaps he did more of that when he had his sight. If I play, it is not very much. Always with a purpose of modeling in some way, but not “this is how this goes”…’ 

Gregory Oakes, Professor of Clarinet at Iowa State University says: ‘I make sure to play in every lesson. The nuances of how to combine dynamics, rubato, and timbre meaningfully into a phrase just can’t be succinctly expressed in a better way…..’

On her new blog, Boston clarinetist Marguerite Levin says yes to modeling for students of all ages. ‘I cannot stress how important it is to play with and for your students. For the pre-college aged student, it is imperative that they consistently hear beautiful clarinet tone every week. You are most likely the only professional sound they hear on a consistent basis!’

Sauro Berti, bass clarinet of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, has begun video tutorials devoted to modeling for young players:

Sauro says: ‘…also my live lessons are without words, above all when the student doesn’t speak Italian, neither my bad English, neither my very bad Spanish or any translator is available!…’

What do you do? Please add your comments below and thanks for visiting my blog!

Female Clarinetists In U.S. Part Two – College Professors/Teachers

Clarinet, Clarinet Teachers and Professors, Classical clarinetists-female, Teaching, Uncategorized

Note: this list is a work in progress. If I’ve inadvertently left out a female clarinetist in the USA who teaches at the university level, my deepest apologies! Full-time/part time/adjunct—it matters not. You are all important.  If you teach at the college level please contact me at so I may add you to my list. Also, please alert me with any spelling errors or incorrect links. Thank you!


On my website DianaHaskellClarinet I have added a list of female college teachers in the United States. So far we are at 75! Update as of October 13–we are at 130 female college teachers!

Click below to go to the list:

Female Clarinetists Who Teach At the College Level