Lessons From Klose, Baermann

Hyacinthe Klose. Carl Baermann. Names, as a clarinet player, you need to know. One was a highly regarded teacher of the French School of Clarinet at the Paris Conservatoire; the other was the son of an iconic soloist and was, like his father, a virtuoso. Both left indelible marks on the development and performance of the clarinet. And the complete methods bearing their names should be in your library. Actually they could be your entire library because most every technical clarinet issue you’ll encounter in Western music is covered in these methods.

A Bit of History

Most likely you own a Boehm System clarinet. Theobald Boehm had created a system of ring keys for the flute. Klose worked with instrument maker Auguste Buffet, Jr. (around 1839) to adapt the Boehm flute system to the clarinet.

Baermann was the son of a star performer and succeeded his father as principal clarinetist with the Munich court orchestra in the 1830’s. Among other things, he helped develop duplicate keys, which allowed alternate fingerings on the clarinet.

The Method Books

The method books that bear Klose’s name have been edited and expanded over the years by various artists, teachers and publishers, but the mission is the same: exercises in the chalemeau, clarion and altissimo registers; scale and arpeggio exercises; intervals, broken chords, orchestral passages and etudes. All are done in a very melodic form and designed to make you “one with the horn.”

Today’s edited Baermann method, Book #3, is more mechanical than melodic, but it spells out the scales, arpeggios, intervals and broken chords in very basic terms. It’s my favorite warm-up book. With both methods, you have to start slowly and pick up the pace as you gain accuracy. “Yuck”, you say, “the print is small; there’re too many notes and lots of black ink; it’s maddeningly repetitious; and a metronome is a must!”

I agree. But I grudgingly whip out my 35-year-old dog-eared copies every chance I get. Someday I hope to master them.

About author

James Snyder

Jim Snyder has been the busiest jazz clarinetist of the last 30 years, performing in clubs, concert halls and jazz festivals in the United States and abroad. Jim played for many years in New Orleans, where he was also a member of trumpet virtuoso Al Hirt’s band. He is regularly featured as a guest artist in concerts and recordings and is a staff musician for the Walt Disney Company. His solo CD, “Coliseum Square,” was released on the Apple Jazz label. For more information about Jim, visit www.theclarinetguy.com.

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