Meri’s Musical Musings

Random Thoughts on Music, October 21, 2009

Posted on: October 22, 2009

Well, it’s one of those nights when I couldn’t sleep, I figure I should probably write on my blog…

More on sports and music…

Another advantage music has over sports is the much lower potential for injury, especially serious injury…I’ve heard of a number of students who got injured seriously from athletics which meant they could not do athletics for the rest of their life, while even in cases when a musician develops an injury (and some musicians do not) they can usually continue making music. Music is for life, most people don’t do athletics after high school or college, yet I know many musicians in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond who are still active musicians, some even taking lessons themselves.

The misinformation some teachers give in lessons…

I have heard of a number of stories of students associating the bass clef with the left hand, and the treble clef with the right hand. However, such students often have trouble when both hands are written in the bass clef, or, more commonly, especially in duet repertoire, both hands written in the treble clef. Another problem related to clefs and music reading is the notes placed on the staff: some method books say that the notes below middle C are on the bass staff, and notes above middle C are on the treble staff. This causes problems when students see treble clef notes written in bass clef (Stephen Heller’s Fluttering Leaves is an example), or in music written for other instruments, that read treble clef notes below middle C (such as the clarinet) and bass clef notes above middle C (several bass clef instruments).

An idea on how to help students who like to play fast all the time:

Record them playing a piece beautifully in slow motion, perhaps with audio recording software, and then speed up the recording to an appropriate final tempo. Also have them record it playing fast but sloppy.

On parents asking for advice with purchasing an instrument…

I love it when my students ask for advice on an instrument…especially my clarinet students, but with the teacher helping them pick out an instrument, they can get one that plays well that fits their needs and budget. Sometimes the teacher gets a commission, but in most cases they do not.

Writing in your music…

I write a fair bit on my music, I use the markings as places to focus carefully on what I am doing; this is essential when you are reading music with weird figurations for easy chords (Debussy comes to mind) or marking a particular fingering (especially when a passage requires an alternate fingering) or accidental I miss.


To the student I chose for a scholarship/barter arrangement. After carefully interviewing her, she definitely was the type of person who definitely needed the scholarship to further her musical studies!


1 Response to "Random Thoughts on Music, October 21, 2009"

I love reading your blog, although I no longer play the clarinet every day. I stopped after about two decades and now I play only the flute.

I agree with your comment that Music is for a lifetime. I recall as a child that our gym teacher introduced us to the idea of lifetime sports: golf, tennis, biking, etc., these can be done well into old age. Other sports, like gymnastics, football, etc., rely on youth, strength, and the ability to heal quickly, and are not lifetime sports.

When you learn to play a musical instrument, it is truly for a lifetime. Your music making will last longer than many friendships. So it is a worthy investment.


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