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24 Varied Scales And Exercises For Clarinet

in All Major and Minor Keys

By J. Albert

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Woodwinds Clarinet in B-Flat, piano
In All Major and Minor Keys. Composed by J. Albert. Edited by Julie DeRoche. Book. With Standard notation. 32 pages. Carl Fischer Music #O99X. Published by Carl Fischer Music (CF.O99X).

Item Number: CF.O99X

ISBN 9781491153857. 9 x 12 inches.

The Albert system clarinet, developed by Eugene Albert (1816-1890,) was a refinement of the mechanism of the famous Muller 13-keyed clarinet of 1810. Eugene and his sons, Jean-Baptiste (J.B.) (1845-1918,) Jacques and E.J. of Brussels, Belgium, manufactured and sold the Albert clarinet from the mid-1800s through the early 1900s. Eventually this system would fall out of use, as players favored the Boehm system that most clarinetists use today. Even so, the J.B. Albert 24 Varied Scales and Exercises remains the perfect clarinet scale book for the development of technical expertise, excellent intonation and beauty of sound. This newly engraved edition with alterations by Julie DeRoche offers today's clarinet students rhythmic accuracy, smoothness of tone, consistent pitch, and ever increasing speed.



Practice Method for the J.B. Albert 24 Varied Scales and Exercises

My experience as both a clarinet player and teacher has made me increasingly aware of the value of repetitive scale practice. You too will find that with the proper method, and great attention to detail, you can develop an outstanding "well" of technical skill from which to draw. The discipline of a secure technique, rhythmic accuracy, smoothness of tone, consistent pitch, and ever increasing speed, will allow you the freedom to become the musician that you hope to be.

For many years I have used the J.B. Albert 24 Varied Scales and Exercises with the alterations in this new edition, and with the following method, to help my clarinet students toward this goal. I can guarantee that if you have the patience to follow this exactly, you will improve dramatically in a short time.

The arc of the book is important. It starts with the easy flat keys, alternating major then relative minor, working its way up to the difficult keys in the middle of the book. It peaks at six flats, moves to six sharps, and then becomes progressively easier.* (I relate it to climbing a hill.) It is the process of working through the difficult keys in the middle that will move your technique to the next level. By the time you successfully complete the entire book, you will know all of your keys, in most of the basic patterns. You will have encountered almost every conceivable clarinet fingering difficulty that you will encounter in your music, and you will have improved your speed, your accuracy, your sight-reading ability, your tone, your rhythm, and more. And then, you will do the book again, better this time, and faster. Here's how to do it:

1. Begin your practice day with these scales. The time limit is thirty minutes; no more. This is your warm-up, allowing you to get your air moving in a relaxed way, your embouchure and tongue position set, your ears working, and your fingers fluent and rhythmic.

2. Slur all the scales, as shown in the music. Slurred scales, with smooth, constant air, are your long tones, but with the added benefit of simultaneously training your fingers.

3. Begin by choosing a "goal tempo"; the tempo that you will "go for." This should be a tempo that challenges you. It should be a bit faster than the tempo at which you feel comfortable playing. Choose one tempo for the scales written with four sixteenth notes per beat and a slower one for the scales written with six per beat. Scales with six sixteenth notes per beat will have a goal tempo approximately twenty metronome beats per minute slower than the scales with four sixteenth notes per beat.

4. Play one key per week.

5. Turn your metronome on and LISTEN to it. Begin by playing the entire page, in the order shown, at OE = 60. Once you have successfully completed the page at 60, you will move the metronome to OE = 66 and repeat the process. Proceed in this pattern, playing the entire page each time at a faster speed, until you have either completed thirty minutes or have reached your goal tempo. (If you reach your goal tempo on day one, perhaps you have chosen a tempo that is too slow.) I advise using metronome speeds that become steadily faster, but at reasonably small intervals. (See Example 1 below for a list of recommended metronome speeds.) This will allow you to make progress, but never at such a dramatically faster rate that you will notice. The point is to move faster, in a slow but sure process. No cheating! It is the repetition that is critical to your success.

6. Once you have completed your first thirty minutes, stop the scales and move on to other things. The next time you will play them will be the next day. On day two, you will begin the same process again, starting at OE = 60 once more, moving to 66, and so on. You will know the scale better already, and will make further progress up the metronome, stopping at thirty minutes. Day 3, same thing, each day starting at 60, repeating the process, and finishing after thirty minutes. IT IS CRITICAL THAT YOU START EACH DAY AT 60. It is the slow, controlled practice that will allow you to move more efficiently through the scale, getting faster each day, until by the end of your practice week you are reaching your goal tempo. After seven days of this, you will have reached your goal, and will move to the next key. (See Example 2 for a sample practice week chart.)

7. While playing, be aware of the accuracy of your fingers. Make sure they are pristinely clean, with no extraneous or missing notes. Make sure that you are subdividing your beats so that you are playing in a precisely even manner. Fingers that are rhythmically accurate prove that they are under YOUR command.

8. Listen for smoothness over breaks, and beautiful, even tone. Think about your air, embouchure and tongue position, to make sure that you are using them in the best possible way.

9. Listen analytically, marking any mistakes with a pencil so that you do not repeat them. Repeating mistakes means you LEARN them, or put them INTO your technique. If you make a mistake, repeat the pattern. But before doing so, think critically about what you need to do to improve your repetition, and make a strong effort to improve it. Never make the same mistake twice.

10. Do not allow yourself to choose a slower goal tempo for the harder keys. You must insist that you play the hard keys as quickly and accurately as you play the easy ones. This will be a challenge, but it is one of the reasons that your technique will improve.

11. While listening for control and accuracy is critical, at your very fastest tempo, you might feel you are "chasing" the metronome. This is ok. Going for your fastest speed is what will move you to the next technical level, as long as you are in absolute control of the slower tempi.

12. It will take you approximately nine months to a year to complete the book. You will be enormously better at this point. But you are not finished. It is not until the second time through the book that you will realize just how much you have improved. Go back to the beginning and start again, using EXACTLY the same method, and never starting faster than OE = 60. However, you will choose a goal tempo that is approximately twenty beats per minute faster than your first time through the book. If your goal tempo was 112 (96), this time it will be 132 (112). Work through the book as many times as possible over the years, each time increasing the speed of your goal tempo by approximately twenty beats per minute, and never starting a day at a faster tempo than OE = 60.

You may conclude that this seems an arduous, overly repetitive and perhaps boring process, but I assure you it is not. It will make you feel in control of your playing, nicely warmed-up, and ready to get to work on your music. Most important, your improvement will be obvious to you, making it worth every minute of the time spent. Good luck!

--Julie Da Roche

* For historical purposes I chose to retain the title 24 Varied Scales and Exercises. However, I have added to additional keys: F# major and D# minor. These keys were likely left out of the original version because of the enharmonic keys already in the book (Gb major and Eb minor), but I feel it is important to learn to read these scales in both the flat and sharp versions. Thus, there is a bonus of two keys, making it in reality 26 Varied Scales and Exercises.


Example 1:

Recommended metronome speeds: OE = 60, 66, 72, 80, 88, 96, 104, 112, 120, 132, 144, 160, 176, 192, 208

Example 2:

Sample practice chart for goal tempo of qn = 120 (104). Remember, this is just an example. Your individual progress may be different.

Day 1: OE = 60, 66, 72 (Difficult key means this is the fastest tempo achieved in thirty minutes.)

Day 2: OE = 60, 66, 72, 80

Day 3: OE = 60, 66, 72, 80, 88, 96

Day 4: OE = 60, 66, 72, 80, 88, 96

Day 5: OE = 60, 66, 72, 80, 88, 96, 104, (six sixteenths per beat have achieved goal tempo, but are messy) and 112, skipping completed 6's.

Day 6: OE = 60, 66, 72, 80, 88, 96, 104 (six sixteenths per beat are finished for the day, and are cleaner) and 112, 120, skipping completed 6's. (Goal tempo is reached, but messy.)

Day 7: OE = 60, 66, 72, 80, 88, 96, 104, (sixes are complete,) 112, and 120. Goal tempo reached.

Day 8: Move to the next key and repeat the process, changing keys each week.

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