The 2017 All West Tennessee Senior High audition music for clarinet provides a great opportunity for high school clarinet students to work on some of the most widely taught etudes at the advanced high school and early college level—the 32 Etudes by Cyrille Rose. Each etude presents different challenges, and I encourage you to look at this as a chance to work not just on learning these specific pieces, but also on improving fundamental aspects of playing the clarinet, such as tone, finger technique, articulation and dynamic contrast.
The lyrical etude, No. 23, typically has “Andante con moto” printed in the music for the first two lines, so you might want to write that in your part. If you follow this indication, the first two lines serve as an introduction to the slower “Adagio” in m. 9. Most of this etude is slurred, and you should focus on using consistent air and getting a smooth, focused tone. We normally slow down a bit before a fermata, so it would be appropriate to put in a very small ritard at the end of measure 3 and again at measure 7.
It’s best to learn the Adagio with the eighth note getting the beat, so instead of counting four beats in a measure, you’ll count eight. If you get extremely comfortable with the rhythms, you can then transition to feel it in four, which will result in more fluid phrasing. When learning this section, spend some time without your clarinet, studying the music and writing in whatever you can to help with the rhythm. Find a tempo that allows you to play the 32nd notes cleanly and evenly, and practice it A LOT with the metronome so you can recall your goal tempo in the audition. The grace note in measure 14 should be a written “g”, not the “f” that is printed in this part. Breathing is often a challenge in etudes. Write in your breath marks and even have “back-up” breaths planned in case things don’t go as planned in the audition! The very last note in measure 26 is a written G-natural in the part that was posted on the WTSBOA website, but in the Rose 32 that I have, it is a G-flat. I decided to play it as a G-natural for the purpose of this video, and my guess is that the judge will be aware of this discrepancy and accept either pitch.
No. 9 is marked “Maestoso” in this part, which means majestic or stately. Good news—it doesn’t have to be too fast! The opening should be very confident and forte. Adhere to all the articulation markings. Some of them are difficult to see in this version (for example, m. 3 should be slur 2/tongue 2 for the entire measure), so take some time to pencil them in more clearly if needed. Measure 9 should be a big contrast from the opening, both because it is softer and also because of the more lyrical quality. At the end of m. 19 be very accurate and “snappy” with the dotted eight/sixteenth rhythm, and make sure it doesn’t sound like the triplet rhythm in the next measure. For the grace notes in m. 33, I think it is easiest and sounds the best to place them right before the beat. The end of m. 46 to the end should again be very full, forte and confident.
These are just some ideas to get you started. I highly recommend that you take some lessons on these etudes, as it is impossible to describe every detail in a short article like this, and I likely said some things that you might have questions about. I am happy to give a free lesson to anyone who is working hard on this music and needs some extra help, and I’m guessing there are other college professors in the area who would do the same! Seek us out, we are here to help! You can contact me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org