A question was posed recently on a clarinet group I belong to on Linked in: "Where is the clarinet going musically" and I decided to share my response right here on my blog.
Since the cartoon character Squidward is the only popular icon of the 21st century to play the clarinet and most commercial bands have been denigrated to a small box with a screen and keyboard, it's difficult not to feel lost as a clarinetist today. I have always strongly believed in the power and beauty of the clarinet and the way you can scream with it over the top. Getting in with as many new and creative musicians as we can is really important. We are all looking for ways be heard, whether you're a guitarist, trombone, sax player. It seems that the "popular" idioms that are represented in media really exclude a lot of instruments or all instruments, except a computer and a voice. Well I think a lot of instruments really should interact with computers, but also many of us would agree that music like that is somewhat vapid. Popular music today sounds overproduced and really lacks character. Us clarinetists tend to gravitate to academia. I personally have a masters degree and teach at a college. But honestly I wish I saw more adds on craigslist advertising something like" clarinetist sought for band" I mean that's rare right?
What ends up happening is clarinetists have a tendency now to get somewhat introverted and get into discourses over the minutia of a CM Weber solo. As modern classical musicians seem to have a tough time 'championing' modern music, I think we should all just 'be'. When you hear guitarists play, they each have their own style, tone, character. We should all proactively get out there and expose ourselves, other musicians, canary vocalists, computer people and potential fans to our sound and style. If you are a clarinetist, you really should improvise like crazy and if you don't improvise, compose. Get your ideas out there, we live in a post millennial modern era where anything is possible musically.
I'm really curious to get your responses here on my blog. You see there are only really two jobs in an orchestra, there is also a utility player on call, or an associate principal position. So....full time orchestral jobs are scarce and most clarinetists as a result I think are scared of their prospects. I know I was when I graduated from the Boston Conservatory. The other thing is that I have always loved other kinds of music besides orchestral and have chosen to embrace and champion the clarinet in diverse and even popular music setting in order to remain musically active. I know I would have made a lousy accountant! We all grow musically and in order to remain relevant as a clarinetist, the idea is to reintroduce your sound and style and you'll probably get lots of nods of approval and people going, "oh yeah....wow that sounds awesome" of course you may need amplification, but what clarinetist doesn't want to turn it up a little?
Improvise, improve and groove clarinetists!