Connecting notes on clarinet: A short lesson based on ‘Ceora.’

I feel that connecting notes in a truly fluid way is the most important and most challenging aspect of clarinet playing. I’m always looking for new methods to approach this subject and recently I’ve been exploring the head to Lee Morgan’s ‘Ceora’ with this in mind. I chose this tune for two reasons; because it’s a nice melody and also because the large intervals are challenging to play in a really connected way on the clarinet. In order to overcome these challenges I’ve been breaking down the lines into smaller chunks and then repeating them until they sound smooth.

 

For example, I’ll take the first four bars:

1

And break it into two sections, and simplify a little to this:

2

 

and

 3

 

 

When working on these chunks, I’m focusing on moving through the large intervals without any sort of disruption in the air. I want clean and uniform tone. Play these passages slowly and feel the air column move beneath your fingers.

 

Then I’ll change the rhythm into a pattern of 8ths to repeat such as this:

4

 

and

 5

 

Start out slowly and gradually work up speed. Never go faster that you can cleanly slur. You should still have the same feeling of fluidity in the second example as in the first. This exercise is useless if you aren’t truly connecting the notes.

 

It’s easy to get creative with this method. These are just a couple of patterns based off the first four bars. You could easily make many more with just those opening notes. After you’ve made some progress on these patterns, move on to the next four bars. By the time you’ve worked your way through the head you’ll have spent a good deal of time working on making fluid connections!

 

Good luck!