Category Archives: clarinet

Wrapping up the year 2018

This year is soon coming to it’s end and I think now is the perfect time to go through what I have been doing. Of course I have been blogging all year but there are also moments I didn’t write down yet.

The beginning year was difficult professionally. Due to the education that is part of my job, I didn’t have much time to play the clarinet. I think it shows also in my texts. I have had more thoughts about being a musician than stories of what I have been doing.

In May I got back to work and playing. Summer was quite busy with work but also during the holidays I was preparing for the concert I was organizing in August. I have made a decision to try to make at least one musical project outside of my work every year and this concert was that for this year. I already have some ideas for the coming year, but we’ll see what the new year will give.

After the concert in August with the Estonian music we had two big concerts in the Navy Band in September. In the first concert I was playing the first clarinet part and I was enjoying it a lot. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to play little solos?

In October I continued my education but this time the focus was on the instrument so I really got to play and plan what I want to do. I was lucky to get also few personal lessons with my instrument. For a long time I haven’t been this motivated with the playing. I prepared for a small concert with other participants of the course. But I also decided to take a part in the audition. I wrote about my preparation for the audition in November post.

Our course included also improvising lessons. I was a bit nervous in advance but the teacher had confronted so many nervous classical music students that he knew how to break the ice. I learned that for sure I can improvise because it is not what I was assuming it to be. It is not composing or creating something that no one has ever done before. It is putting together small pieces and variations. Often it is based on playing licks that players have practiced well before. So why are we nervous? Because we think we don’t come up with anything or the second reason is to play something “incorrect”. What we consider incorrect notes are mostly creating dissonance with the harmony. So we were actually having fun with that. If you keep playing the dissonance longer, it loses it’s power as an error and becomes just a contrast. It can also be a musical joke. We got good tools for improvising in two days and I was amazed of the solos I could make in our final jam session. I was also enjoying the playing a lot. I definitely felt like I want to do this more.

This period reminded me of my time as a student. It is great to have a possibility to plan everything you want to do. After that coming back to work and straight to a concert project in Sweden was a stressful experience. I have learned that when you have time to plan everything and practice enough it is less stressful to do my job. However, it seems to be for most of the time just chaos and busy timetables with not enough time to get to know your own parts. It feels bad to know that you are not able to learn the pieces with the given time and show that you have the skills. But I hope people understand that it is not my fault. Of course I try to play always as well as I can. The project with the Swedish Navy Band was anyway a nice experience with lots of new people.

December is always a busy month with many events. I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas but Christmas concerts are also part of the job. And of course I was sad to miss the famous concert of the year on 24th of December being ill at home. Anyway, there was one project in December that was maybe the best thing in the all year. Even for this concert I had very little time to prepare but luckily the program wasn’t too difficult. We played for Finland’s Independence Day Concert on 6th of December. The Navy Band played with the wind instrument players and percussionists of Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. And also one double bass player! It was so pleasant to play with this combination and also I got my first and perhaps the last experience of the legendary Leif Segerstam. He was conducting us and I just felt something different that I don’t remember for so long time. It felt great to play. Music was alive. So maybe that is why I keep doing this. To find those rare lovely moments with music.

screenshot form the live stream of the concert

I have no clue or expectations for the coming year 2019 but I wish lots of great moments with everyone!

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My Way of Getting Ready for the Audition

The last post was in Finnish only, so this time it will be in English only. I want to get little more detailed about my way of getting ready for an audition and how the audition day goes. At the first Sunday of November I attended the Principal Clarinet substitute audition for the spring season 2019 in Turku Philharmonic Orchestra.

I had to go through my blog because I didn’t remember how detailed I have written about my previous audition experiences. Also I wanted to confirm that it was 2014 when I did the last auditions for symphonic orchestras before this year. In 2014 I applied in Oslo in January with E flat clarinet and in Helsinki in October with bass clarinet. Both were really nice trips and I got good experience of going to auditions.

It was very interesting for me to read one of my posts that year about wanting to play in an orchestra very much when I didn’t have a chance to do it. And I was really excited about attending to the audition of Turku Philharmonic Orchestra in the spring of 2015. Later I wrote I found out in the end of January about an upcoming audition in Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. I was really excited. The audition will be held next week. Unfortunately I am not participating because I didn’t get invitation to the audition. Just too many good clarinetists applying this time. Honestly I felt tremendously bad after getting the message that I can’t go.

In 2016 I got the position in the Navy Band through an audition as well but besides me there was only one other applicant. I feel it was all a different story. After that I felt I want to focus on my new job and didn’t feel like using my energy on auditions.

Few years passed and then came this autumn. I heard about the audition couple of times before I really checked the date and found out that it goes really well with my schedule. Well, one micro-chipping event happened on the exact same time but luckily my friend could go there with my cat. Little extra excitement for that day! Anyway I didn’t have to book a trip and find a place to stay over night or any hassle like this since the audition was in my new home town.

My job includes few educational courses and this time the focus is in the music and my own development. What could be any better way to push myself than going to an audition? You can practice the auditions only by doing them. I also got to go to lessons and it was really useful after a long time to get concrete feedback of my playing.

For Oslo audition I had a really good time to prepare: “During Christmas holidays 2013 I stayed alone and came up with a routine of going outside walking after breakfast, writing my thesis until lunch time and then practicing between lunch and dinner and maybe writing a bit more in the evening. I was extremely “busy” and had to be careful to give me every fourth day just a brake day of it all. ”

For Helsinki audition I wrote about working at the same time and how it makes it more difficult to find enough time to concentrate in practicing. This autumn I could use almost one month mostly for practicing for the audition. For couple of weeks I could plan my days freely although I didn’t find as strict routine as I described in 2013.

IMG_20181027_122153When I first took a look of the audition materials I thought that I am lucky to be able to practice all the best clarinet solos. Most of them I knew already but some were tricky and needed a lot of time. Yet I feel some of them didn’t get perfectly ready but this work is never wasted time. In the future it will be every time easier to begin working with these difficult passages.

There are few key things I could list for my preparing. Number one, planning of what I need to practice and not just try to do everything at once. I practiced almost every day, also in weekends. I usually relax during weekends and try to do other than job related things. Also keep in mind of having breaks during the practice session. Number two, sports. I started a new gym program in the beginning of October and I felt it has been really important and gave me energy for the darkening nights. And for number three and four are food and rest. If you are not sleeping enough or eating the right things you won’t be able to get any use out of your practicing. Brains are working when you are resting! I find myself humming the difficult things I have been practicing after few hours. I think this is one way my brain is processing all that data. I usually avoid alcohol for a longer time before auditions. This time I had one glass of wine one week before the audition so I am not super strict about it. But just keep in mind how it affects in your body and your performance.

Then comes finally the audition day. Two days before I went to a massage and hairdressers. I even visit a museum to have a lovely moment with art (however there were some infants…). I also prepared my food for the audition day. I feel it’s easier to take the food with me and then you can eat it there when you have even a short break. You cannot be sure how far you have to go for a shop and how long time you might have to wait for food in cafes or restaurants.

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I felt I didn’t play too much just before the audition but anyway my right wrist was feeling a bit sore in the morning of the audition day. I was thinking could it be even psychosomatic pain due the stress but on the other hand I was feeling rather excited than nervous or anxious about going to the audition. Luckily the pain relieved and didn’t affect on my playing.

IMG_20181104_120600I arrived at the concert house around 11 am. I enrolled for the audition with other participants and felt already hungry. I had breakfast quite early because I still had to do some things in the morning before leaving. So the first thing was to eat my salad. After that I still had little bit time to put my instrument together and play few tones in the hall where the audition took place. It is very good if you can get inside that hall or room before your turn will come. You have time to think how you will position yourself and how it feels to stand there. Also it is good to test the acoustics but there were quite many other players as well so it was not possible to hear that well.

At noon we had a draw. There were totally 38 players and they said it is a lot but actually that is what I have always experienced. My lucky number was 26. So I had plenty of waiting time ahead of me. The first round was Mozart concerto first movement and excerpt of “Dances of Galanta”.

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They showed us rooms where we could play but there was six people in one room. Luckily everyone else left right away and I stayed in to play. Then I had a pause and went to see how it is going with the audition and to talk with people.

IMG_20181104_111814I wrote in my older post about having the contacts in music field in Finland. And it is true. However not only in Finland but all around the world. In my October post I wrote about my weekend with Finnish clarinetists. This time I met many clarinet friends from all over the world. Of course there were a lot of new faces but I was happy to meet and talk with people I knew already. The atmosphere was all in all very friendly and supportive.

Finally my turn came and it was soon over. I had a fine feeling with Mozart when I was playing and I was really happy that I played very clearly one passage that was causing troubles just few days before. After that the jury behind the screen said IMG_20181104_152303”Thank you, that’s all” and I was confused and tried to ask the pianist without making any sound that was it really all. When you are playing behind the screen you can’t talk or make any sounds that could reveal who you are.

Afterwards I heard that quite many didn’t play the ”Dances of Galanta” but it made me still a bit worried. I ate some more food and talked more with people. It was past 4 pm when we heard the results of the first round. I didn’t get to the second round but one friend did. She was one of the 12. I packed my stuff and was in a way happy that I still had time to go to gym.

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Hopefully some day I would go to the second round. Then I would at least know that my Mozart is played in the way they like to hear it. Also I only got this hint afterwards that you could record your playing. Especially in the first round it doesn’t matter what you are doing on the stage when they can’t see you. So I will definitely try that next time.

All in all I had a good experience with getting ready and practicing these things again and finding out what I should practice more. I got the feeling I want to do at least one more audition in the future. Probably I don’t want to travel very far for it, but for sure there will be other auditions in Turku as well.

Viikonloppu klarinetistien kesken

logo Olin odottanut lokakuun ensimmäistä viikonloppua hyvillä mielin. Tällä kertaa Turussa vietettiin Suomen Klarinettiseuran vuosikokousviikonloppua. Tapahtuma oli hyvin onnistunut ja järjestetty, huolimatta siitä, että sunnuntain konserttiin ei löytynyt paljoa yleisöä nauttimaan maailman parhaasta soittimesta.

 

Viikonloppu alkoi lauantaina heti aamupäivällä Olli Leppäniemen mestarikurssilla. olli3Kaikki soittajat olivat valmistautuneet hyvin ja päästiin kuulemaan parhaita klarinettiteoksia. Ollilta tuli todella hyviä vinkkejä, joita kaikki pystyvät kokeilemaan myös itsekseen. Tunnelma säilyi hyvän tuulisena ja rentona koko aamupäivän.

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Pääsin myös itse lavalle hieman erikoisemman projektini kanssa. Haaveissani on päästä joskus soittamaan Brahmsin klarinettikvintetto ja tällä hetkellä aloitin itse teokseen tutustumisen. Löysin teoksesta sovituksen klarinetille ja pianolle. Myös pianistille ainutlaatuinen tilaisuus päästä soittamaan tätä teosta, mutta tästä on varmasti paljon hyötyä tulevaisuutta ajatellen.

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Lounaan jälkeen alkoivat klarinettiyhtyeen harjoitukset ensin stemmaharjoitusten muodossa. Päätin pitkästä aikaa tarttua bassoklarinetin varteen ja pääsin myös tutustumaan Suomessa hyvin harvinaisiin klarinetteihin: es-vireinen kontra-alttoklarinetti ja b-vireinen kontrabassoklarinetti. Mukana oli myös kolme basettitorvea, jotka nimestään huolimatta kuuluvat klarinettiperheeseen.

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Klarinettiyhtyeeseen osallistui kiitettävä määrä soittajia ja lisävahvistusta saatiin kahdesta harpusta ja Klarinettiseuran uusi puheenjohtaja pääsi tutustumaan isorumpuun.

isorumpuVaikka soittimet ovatkin hyvin erilaisia lähtien pikkuisesta es-klarinetista matalimpiin erikoisklarinetteihin, kaikkia soittajia yhdistää silti se perinteisin klarinetti. Siitä yleensä lähdetään liikkeelle kun aloitetaan soittoharrastus. Toisille harrastus etenee ammatiksi asti, mutta riippumatta siitä, mitä tekee ansaitskseen elantonsa, pystyi orkesterissa aistimaan yhteisen ylpeyden.

Olen itse ollut seuran jäsen jo muutaman vuoden, mutta tämä oli ensimmäinen tapahtuma, johon pääsin osallistumaan jäsenenä. Asiaa tietenkin helpotti, että tapahtuma järjestettiin käytännössä samoissa tiloissa kuin työpaikkani sijaitsee. On hienoa, että tällainen seura on olemassa ja toivottavasti sen tulevaisuus on valoisa. Minulta kesti kauan päättää liittymisestä jäseneksi, mutta jäsenissä on seuran tulevaisuus, joten erityisesti nuoria klarinetisteja tulee kannustaa liittymään jäseniksi. Opiskeluvuosina mietin liittymistä, mutta opiskelijan talouteen kuului kaikesta mahdollisesta karsiminen…tauko

Harjoitusten lomassa nautittiin tauoilla kahvista ja paljastui, että yhtyeessämme on myös kauramaitopurkin suunnittelija.

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Harjoituksia seurasi yhteinen illanvietto ravintola Tårgetissa. Ruoka oli maittavaa ja tutustuminen jatkui hyvässä seurassa.

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Sunnuntaina  päivä käynnistyi vuosikokouksella ja paikalle saatiin sopiva määrä IMG_20181007_100437kiinnostunutta porukkaa. Kokouksessa käytiin läpi seuran toimintaa menneeltä kaudelta ja myös hieman tulevaisuuden suunnitelmia. Seuralle valittiin uusi hallitus ja itsekin päätin osallistua suunnittelemaan parin vuoden päästä koittavaa 40-vuotisjuhlavuotta.

Vielä kenraaliharjoitus ennen konserttia ja konsertin avasimme Laivaston soittokunnan klarinettitriolla. Oli mukavaa päästä soittamaan myös pienemmällä kokoonpanolla työkavereiden kesken, koska se jos mikä kehittää yhteissoittoa.

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Toivottavasti minulla on mahdollisuus osallistua myös tuleviin tapahtumiin muusta elämästä huolimatta. Tämä on yksi parhaimpia tapoja niin verkostoitua kuin ystävystyä ihmisten kanssa, joiden kanssa jakaa yhteisen ymmärryksen klarinetin maailmasta.

Teksti ja kuvat: Heli Palomaa

konsertti