Welcome to Shawn Earle’s Clarinet Studio

DBCD084C-E351-477A-9E7D-080366E96D7BWelcome to Shawn Earle’s clarinet studio website. Students at the Washington and Lee University Music Department and  McIntire Department of Music at the University of Virginia will find useful information here. This is a place for clarinet related information to be shared and discussed. Students should check back here often for updated information related to lessons, upcoming events, rehearsal schedules, and much more! There is limited space still available for clarinet students this year. If you are interested in lesson or for more information contact Shawn Earle as soon as possible!

Scroll down to see recent posts!


W&L Clarinetist in Concerto Competition

First year clarinetist Carissa Petzold will be performing the second movement of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto K.622 in the Washington and Lee Music Department concerto competition. The competition is open to the public and will take place Wednesday, November 8th in Wilson Hall at 7pm. Good luck Carissa!

UVA Clarinet Ensemble Performance

The UVA Clarinet Ensemble will be performing November 4th at 8pm at the Bridge Progressive Arts Space. This concert will be shared with the UVA New Music 3312EE2D-7F19-45F8-9EE8-5A6967EA4B69Ensemble. The Clarinet Ensemble will perform works by Khachaturian and a world premier by the Clarinet Ensmble’s resident composer, Cameron Church’s Criticaster Discourse.  

Free admission
For more details click here http://music.virginia.edu/night-new-music-bridge

Studio Class

This a friendly reminder that this Thursday, October 26th there will be a studio class for all clarinet students. This will be held from 8-9:30pm in Old Cabell Hall Room 107.  See you there!

How to conquer technically difficult passages

As clarinetists we often have to conquer difficult musical passages that have a lot of fast notes. This can seem like a daunting task but with determination, a plan, regular practice, and the right approach any passage can sound effortless. Here are some tips to mastering technically challenging music:

  1. The first course of action is to plan well in advance so that you have enough time to learn the music well. Panicked time crunched practice often yields poor results.
  2. Start slow! If you are making mistakes you are going too fast. Use your metronome to ensure you aren’t speeding up. Don’t be in a rush to play the passage up to tempo. My teacher in my undergrad use to say “It’s never too late for slow practice”. Slow practice allows you to learn the challenging passage without mistakes. It’s better to learn music slowly well, rather than learning it fast with a lot of mistakes.
  3. Focus on the sections you can’t do well. It’s easy to play what we can do well, but in the end the problem areas are the ones we should focus on.
  4. Distort the rhythm. If a passage is running 16th notes, practice in irregular  groups of 3, 5, 7. The emphasis will be in different places in the measure  forcing you to draw attention to different points in the passage.
  5. Play in short sections. If the difficult section is long, break it into small chunks. Master the small chucks slowly then merge the small chunks together. A chunk can be a 1 or 2 beats, a measure, or phrase.
  6. Learn the passage from back to front. Often times we want to play long sections of music which can be counter-productive to learning small chunks. If you start at the end of the passage you are forced to stop. Also working backwards allows you to learn the end well, which can often be neglected.
  7. Long-Short-Short-Short practice. If a passage has running 16th notes making one note in the grouping long helps you to focus on different parts of each beat. If the passage is in groups of 4 16th notes, practice it quarter, triplet; quarter triplet moving the quarter note to the first, second, third, and fourth notes of the grouping.
  8. Have anchors. In running 16th note passages have anchors or goal notes at key points during the passage. These are points of emphasis often at the beginning of a phrase, measure, or a high or low note in the passage. I often mark them with a tenuto or accent in parenthesis.
  9. Think of ways to make the passage more difficult than it is and practice in this way. When you play it the way it is written it will be easier.


Mozart Clarinet Concerto

Shawn will be performing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Charlottesville Symphony September 23rd and 24th 2017.  All UVA and W&L students should be in attendance to at least one of these performances. The Mozart Concerto is one of the most important works in the clarinet repertoire. If you aren’t familiar with this monumental work you can view the music by clicking here.

Tickets are free for UVA students if you reserve in advance with the UVA Box Office.

W&L student should email Shawn about comp tickets (there is a limited number) earles@wlu.edu


How to Practice Effectively 

No one ever seems to have a lot of time to practice, so it is essential to be as effective as possible to get the most done in the shortest amount of time. Each practice session should include time on fundamental technique, etudes, and repertoire. The fundamentals of playing clarinet include:

  1. Long tones
  2. Scales and arpeggios
  3. Articulation

Key habits for effective and efficient practice are:

  1. Put practice times in your daily schedule. Just like you schedule classes, also schedule practice time.
  2. Plan out your practicing. If you only have a half hour to practice plan that time so you are doing the fundemantals and repertoire
  3. Set goals. Since you know how long your will practice, set goals for each task. Make sure the goals are realistic for the time frame and if you don’t achieve the goal, carry it over to the next practice session.
  4. Take notes. Keep a notebook that details you practice session and your successes and challenges during each session.
  5. Don’t practice things you can play well. Focus your practice time on problem areas.
  6. Slow Practice.  Practice with a metronome to keep from playing fast. Learning difficult passages slowly and correctly will save you time.
  7. Revisit difficult passage regularly. Once you learn a difficult passage, revisit it daily to make sure it stays in your fingers.
  8. Practice smart! Remove distractions like cellphones and computers. Are you actively listening while you play or going on autopilot?
  9. Use a mirror. Practicing in front of a mirror helps you to monitor embouchure and hand position.
  10. Use your metronome and tuner.
  11. Use your metronome and tuner. (This is so important I put it twice!)
  12. Record yourself. Often times what we hear when we are playing is not the same as what others hear in the audience. Record short passages and listen back regularly to be sure that the product you are putting out is the same as what you think you hear. Even a cellphone voice recorder will work in a pinch.