Tonsillitis is (mostly) gone; Time to pick up my licorice stick and (gulp) relearn to play…

I hate how I get in the determined mood to do something, or re-do something, and suddenly I’m sick. But I’ve said that one before, so I won’t re-hash it.

My throat is finally doing better. I haven’t been sneezing or coughing nearly as much (and if I do, it’s first thing in the morning and then I’m gravy until the afternoon the past two days… fingers crossed that I only get better from here).

I’m several weeks behind in my grand practice plan already because of this crap. If it wasn’t my inability to swallow, it was my burning desire to nap all day because of the headaches. Ugh.

And now, I’m back at work this morning after three days off, and going to look up every means possible to make my playing better.

The clarinet’s the oldest instrument I have. My guitar’s the newest (my pretty blue baby, less than a month in my keeping). My keyboard I got a few Christmases ago (on sale at Target of all things, and I wanted to learn while my clarinet was getting re-padded and tuned up). I got it set up in my bedroom with the bench from the 150 yr old pump-air organ we’ve got collecting dust in the living room.

If we could’ve figured out a way to hook up an air compressor to it–quietly–without having to pump air in it with our feet, I wouldn’t have bothered buying a keyboard, even if it was on sale! But I digress.

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Make it sepia tone and it’d be just about accurate…too bad the clicking of the air pedals is louder than the actual music that comes out of it (sigh). Then again, no pipes to channel the sound away from the board itself. It’s why I never wanted to learn on it–couldn’t hear!

And then, there’s the metal folding chair I got specifically to practice clarinet and keep good posture (it sits too short for me to use with the keyboard and have proper hand placement). And it’s my guitar chair now, too.

I’ve never had good posture, and I’m trying to learn it best I can. Just never think about it much til I need to (facepalm), but that’s a discussion for another day.

My biggest concern is my embouchure, the shape of my mouth and musculature needed to hold the air in and prevent leaks around the mouthpiece when I’m playing. I have an unfortunate tendency, because it’s been so long, for leaks to develop in about 5 minutes. Then I feel that tingling because my lips are going numb.Related image

Worse even than that is my tonguing technique, which is way out the window (head out of the gutter, fellas). I will be spending this week with just the mouthpiece of my clarinet, practicing holding my air steady and strengthening those facial muscles. That’ll take a while, at least a month to really get good, a little bit at a time.

I’m okay with that, though. It’s what I get for letting it slide so damned long. Just wish I could get to re-learning notes. But it takes the small steps to go forward, and learning how to push air continually through the instrument without leaking, and being able to do so for a good amount of time will help that. Then, when I have enough control, I can reach for the really high notes and maybe even hit them without making my ears bleed.

I tense up with high notes because I’ve never been very successful with them, and that’s not good. I anticipate that I’ll screw it up and then (gasp) I screw up. I hate that squeaking sound, so I don’t want to try it.

But that will limit me terribly if I can’t try to do it.

I’m certain I’m doing the crazy thing by trying to learn three instruments at the same time (well, re-learning one and freshly learning the other two with discipline). But I want to play, and play for a few hours. I would love to get to the point where I can play music on my instruments between 2-4 hours a day. The tricky part is there’s no way I could play clarinet for a solid hour with my current abilities. 10 minutes straight would be a tiny victory at this point.

Gimme a year and I could probably work my way up to that amount of clarinet practice.

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I’m not that ambitious (or nuts), I promise…thanks, Bert.

But learning that, and training my ears to listen to notes and work on fingering each instrument…yeah, I could do that. I’ll be in the zone and receptive to paying attention, wanting to push myself further.

My brain’s a bit fuzzy right now. It’s early morning and I gotta be at work in about an hour (stupid lack of sleep), so my idea of writing this morning wasn’t going to pan out. But I can only work one miracle at a time, and confronting my (more accessible) to do list means I’ll have to focus on what I can do and play catch up next week. I have a feeling there will be oodles of schedule changes, so as long as I dedicate evenings to music and other activities this week…that will be a great start.

And I can’t wait to get to work and watch some very helpful clarinet videos, and practice embouchure exercises while I sit there at reception working. I’ll look silly as hell, I’m sure, but who cares?

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