Samstag, 4. Dezember 2010

To be Being your own teacher

When you learn to play an instrument, you start with regular lessons with a teacher. He or she helps you to play the instrument in the right way. Right from the beginning though a student spends most of their practise time alone. In the best scenario a teacher shows you how you should practise. Two rules are unquestionable right: „Practise as well as possible“ and of course „Practise as much as possible“
As we know our first connection we have to something is very important. Thus the first lessons I get are the most important ones. What does the teacher says about posture, about embouchure, does he or she helps to find a good reed? It is evident: the role of a teacher is so vital!
However, the majority of the time we spend with our instrument is away from a teacher. We depend on ourselves. And must therefore be our own teachers. Time is always scarce, so it is so important that we use our time as sensibly as possible. The typical way of practising: I take a piece, start from beginning and after the first mistake I stop and try to repeat the failed passage with the mistake in it and go on like this till the end. This is definitely not the best way to practise.
Practising is a creative process, an art form in itself. Before starting it is best is to consider: What is my aim and how can I achieve it. Possible questions could be among others:

1. On which technical problem should I work, and how do I include them in my warm-up?

2. On which pieces should I work at the moment – which piece needs a break?

3. Does a piece require detail work or shall I try to get through the whole piece?

4. In which sections do I practise: one bar, one tone combination or some several lines?

5. How much time do I spend on one aspect, when do I go to the next?

6. What is most important?: The sound, the legato or the musical idea?

7. Do I learn to play by heart, do I record myself?

8. Do I follow a strict system or do I decide spontaneously how to practise?

9. Should I have breaks in between?

10. Does my practising follows a clear idea or do I just play?

Etc. etc.
We see It is obvious: There are so many decisions to be made. But that’s the fun of the game: Be creative and shape the practising in the best way that you can achieve the best result and that it is fun. It is very easy: Just observe your practising like a teacher and be honest with yourself: Is it really good how I am practising? We are often better at criticizing others than ourselves. When you start to teach you have to think about which way of practising is the best for the pupil. Just do the same with yourself: be your own teacher.

and: go on a new organisation is born.

very best

Matthias Müller

Dienstag, 24. August 2010

New clarinet methods

In German we say „Sometimes there is something in the air“ or „The time is ripe for something“ when a new development happens in a similar way in different places. When I started to write my clarinet method „Claritop“ ( I heard from a student that Reiner Wehle is writing a method as well. His three volumes of Clarinet Fundamentals ( ) appeared at the same time as mine. When I saw his method I realized that it is based on the same philosophy. Reiner Wehle visited my masterclass in Switzerland this week and comfirmed that he had the same impression. At ClarinetFest in Austin I met Larry Guy and he gave me his books „Intonation Training/Embouchure Building/Hand and Finger Development“: Incredible, he did in USA a similar thing that we did in Europe at the same time!
What is this similar idea about:
· Good exercises are the basis for the development of technique.

· Technique means not only fast fingers. Technique is breathing, posture, sound, intonation & articulation etc.

· We can give important explanations about clarinet technique and they can be very helpful.

· Basics are important. If they are not good, all the rest cannot work really good.

· Important is precision and thoroughness.

· They are based on the work of our excellent teachers: Daniel Bonade, Hans Rudolf Stalder and Hans Deinzer.

This is not new but it was hardly applied to the Clarinet in the 19th century. There was a certain activity in the 20th century but it was as a whole quite poor. Everything based on the 19th century. Bärmann, Kröppsch are not bad, but there are now better methods.
It is so important that we are always aware why we practise and what is our aim and the way to achieve it. We have to start with the easy things and go step by step to the more difficult ones. Never jump a step. If you play too difficult things you get cramped. Try always to feel free and relaxed. And don’t forget: Good practising is fun! The succes will make you happy.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate and contact me.
All the best

Montag, 2. August 2010

ICA ClarinetFEST Austin 2010

Hi Clarinetfriends
I just came back from the ClarinetFEST in Austin. Everybody who was there would confirm that it was a terrific Festival. Well organised by Nathan Williams and Richard Mac Dowell. Thanks and congratulation – you did a great job for the clarinetfamily. It was really the feeling of a family. Indeed all musicians can be the best friends in such circumstances.
It was so impressive to see how different the clarinet can sound. Best in Romantic and Classical Music, in Jazz, Klezmer, Contemporary and with Electronics as well as a group in clarinet-orchestras. A rich and huge range. I could discover new fine compositions for clarinet: Have you ever heard of Whitney Prince, Roshanne Etezady or Theresa Martin. They composed awesome Duos for Clarinet. Robert Spring and Jana Starling introduced them in a terrific way. Or did you know that Costa Rica has a rich clarinet life with a society and a own Festival? The whole world is moving.
And then the Bass Clarinet Blow-Out of Rico: What a fantastic group with Laurie Bloom, André Moisan, Rocco Parisi, Alcides Rodriguez and Pedro Rubio. And they played the new Rico Bassclarinet reed – superbe sound! I played my newest compositions for clarinet: My 6 Etudes de Concert and 2 movments of my new Clarinet Concerto. They are on my new CD Virtuoso ( and published by Edition Hug ( and by Metropolis Musicpublisher ( On my website you can listen some samples.
On the home back I was visiting Eddie Daniels in his home in Santa Fee. He is not only a terrific clarinet Player but a great personality as well. What an open mind: We discussed about all kind of music specially about Stockhausen and Ligeti – and of course about Thai Chi. I was allowed to assist to a lesson with Eddie and Mirabai. Big stars can be so human and modest... Yours Matthias

Mittwoch, 2. Juni 2010

The Art of Technique

The interaction of technique and art is obvious in the case of music as the artist makes visible use of their technical skills in the performance of their art-form. In the case of virtuosity this aspect actually prevails and artistic expression takes second place. This need not be seen negatively if the artistic content and a fascinatingly brilliant technique are able to complement each other. The music of the great masters is often very technically demanding.
Generally speaking, what we understand by the term technique is the ability to overcome the difficulties of our instrument. It is essential to have the goal of the instrument and body becoming a single entity, in fact, for the instrument to almost become a bodily organ. An exceptional musician is one that has become grafted to their instrument and one where the borders between body and instrument have become blurred.
It makes sense to separate technique from music and art during the working process but it is important to keep in mind that this is only a temporary separation. Contrary to popular opinion regarding instrumental technique, a good technique and fast finger are not one in the same.
Clarinet technique is made up of a wide range of differing aspects: breathing technique, tonguing technique, articulation technique, good intonation, finger technique etc. to name just the most important features. It is therefore worthwhile to spend some time focussing solely on instrumental technique.

1. The basic technique required for a specific aspect, such as, inhalation, creation of air pressure or finger control while playing legato over larger intervals.

2. The combination of several basic techniques, such as articulation, which involves controlling the pressure of tonguing combined with precise finger control.

3. Application of technique in a musical context, in which something new is required in each moment. An example of this would be if a player is faced with playing a long held note that is interrupted by an accent, in the next moment a leggiero passage of separated staccato notes that is in turn followed by an expressive section with legato over large intervals.

That said it is important to reiterate: If the basis is not laid soundly what follows will have not have a stable foundation. It is dizzying to consider the technical requirements of the Mozart concerto and the quick succession in which all these aspects have to be processed. In the case of the clarinet, as with wind instruments in general, it is necessary to note, that the process of playing is not particularly spectacular. This is because the technique required is mostly invisible. With piano and string instruments everything is visible and for that reason these instruments appear more virtuosic. Apart from small finger movements the most important aspects of clarinet playing are invisible to the naked eye. The fine control of the embouchure, the most exact managing of jaw pressure remains just as hidden as the variation of air pressure while playing large intervals. That this doesn`t appear spectacular to an audience is one thing. More importantly, however, we must acknowledge that it is precisely this feature of clarinet playing that can leave us as learners feeling as if we have to find our own way in the dark, at least at first.

For that reason we need to differentiate between two procedures:

• Work on the fundamental basics, i.e. working on and the refining of general technique.

• The learning of technical challenges specific to a certain piece.

Both the different procedures should complement each other because the possibility of artistic expression only becomes reality once the necessary technique had been mastered. Contrastingly, an artistic desire may necessitate the learning of a special technique and in this way encourages the player’s further development. At the beginning of the learning process it does, however, pay to follow a progressive technical programme. The broader the foundations are placed the easier it will be to solve specific problems later.

New release
Etudes de concert by Matthias Müller
6 solopieces that includes passages of high technical difficulty. Every piece makes specific demands on clarinettists as
• subtle articulation
• large, quick leaps
• sustained fingerwork combined with circular breathing
• different extended techniques as slapping, glissandi, flutter-tonguing, multiphonics, quarter-tones
• double and triple-tonguing
The difficulties lie not just in the technical challenges as matter of mastering a challenge, but also how it is mastered. The decisive step only comes when their technical demands can be met in a concert situation – thus when they are bound up with a musical idea.
Available by: Hug&Co. Musikverlage

I will play the “etudes de concert” at the CLARINETFEST 2010 in Austin, Butler School of Music, July 23, 2010 Mc Cullough Theater 9 a.m.

ICA-Clarinetfest 2010 Austin July 21-25, 2010

International Clarinetcompetition and 1. European Clarinet Festival
Kortrijk Belgium, Oct 30 – Nov 7, 2010