Ok, so I'm not going to make a lot of friends with the this chapter, but scales are very important. It is not the scales themselves that need to be spruced up to make them appealing to the young clarinettist, but the attitude towards the playing of scales that needs to be changed. I was lucky to have a wonderful teacher at a young age who spent a significant portion of the lesson going through all the scales, thereby indoctrinating me with a very solid technique even in primary school.
First point that needs to be made with regard to scales is that all the pieces you play are in fact made up of scales, just with the notes in a different order. Even difficult seemingly atonal twentieth century pieces have scales of some sort, whether they be twelve tone, whole tone or modal. At the Royal College of Music in London, as part of my course I had to learn scales in major and minor thirds. These scales came in handy when I played the Bozza Concerto. As a rule, you will find that most of your pieces have difficult technical section which are just straight scales, maybe arpeggios or chromatics, and a lot of practice time can be saved simply by learning the particular scale involved. For example, a couple of times in the first movement on the Mozart the passage if just broken chords on C, G and F. How much easier these passages are if you can already play the broken chords?
Right, I've given you a few good reasons why you should practice your scales. Let's work on changing your attitude towards them. I recall a number of years ago a prominent professional clarinettist played the Mozart Concerto on a reed so bad, in his opinion, he wouldn't have played his scales on it. I find that sad. For me, a scale is a very beautiful thing. It is a chance to hear your sound over the entire range of the instrument, and bask in the warmth of the changes of register that the scale brings. I make my scales pieces of music in their own right. I put on my best reed, make the nicest sound possible, that way you start to enjoy yourself. Practice the scales very slowly at first, there are no prizes for being a hero, and gradually increase the speed, all the while keeping the fluency and good tone prominent.
While your music exams specify that you play your scales from memory, for good reason I advocate that you practice your scales whilst looking at the printed score. There is very good reason for this. Reading the scales gets you used to reading the key signatures, which make sightreading sooooo much easier. If you are confronted with a piece that has 5 sharps or flats, well, if you know what a B major or D flat major key signature looks like, then half the battle is won.
It also gets you used to reading enharmonic notes. For example, you know that B flat equals A#. One frustration I found with teaching beginning and young clarinettists was the inability to read enharmonic notes, which makes things really tough later on. This is especially evident when trying to play Bozza or other twentieth century composers, where their music is full of accidentals. If you are a little hazy on what a B# is, then you are involved in an up-hill battle to learn the piece.
An added bonus with practicing your scales is getting used to playing alternate fingerings. For example, your chromatic scale gets you used to playing the side F#. I found I had a technical weakness with my left hand C, and I worked on that weakness by practicing C minor arpeggios and diminished seventh chords starting on that C.
Also, to stop getting bored practicing your scales, I use several different technique books. The books I alternate are Klose, Baermann and Langenus.
Here are a few YouTube links to illustrate my point.
Lessons in Technique parts One, Two and Three
Why you should practice your scales
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