Lessons on Monday, January 25, 2016

Lessons for Monday, January 25, 2016, are canceled. Our street has not yet been plowed, which appears to be the case all over the county. My wish is that my students and their families remain safely at home until weather conditions improve. Those 30 inches are not going to disappear quickly, but we should be back on track next week as usual.

-Mrs. Noyes

Another Wonderful All-State Experience

Today, I had the distinct pleasure to serve as a clarinet judge for Maryland All-State for the third consecutive year, along with several of my extremely talented colleagues.

One of the clear advantages to judging All-State is the ability to network and bond with colleagues and build lasting professional relationships. I have been blessed to meet so many incredible teachers and players through my experiences with All-State, and they have helped to make me a better teacher along the way. Another advantage is knowing the caliber of musicianship being displayed across the fine state of Maryland, which I can use to push my own high school students.

What a difference in talent we experienced this year, as compared to the past two. The vast majority of the students we listened to this year were poised, prepared, and pleasant. There were a few chuckles along the way, too, like the guy named Jake that laughed and said, “Yes, like ‘Jake from State Farm’,” that was immediately followed by a different student dressed in khakis and a red shirt.

All in all, the day passed quickly and with loads of smiles.

Fine Arts College Information Night

If you are not yet familiar with the annual Howard County Fine Arts Advisory Council’s Fine Arts College Information Night, you should be:

Following in the steps of River Hill High School’s music information event, the Fine Arts Advisory Council of the Howard County Public School System offers a special event for students in the fine arts disciplines of visual arts, dance, music, and theater. This event is our Fine Arts College Information Night, and it is held every October at a high school here in Howard County.

At the Fine Arts College Information Night, students in middle and high school will be invited to attend panel discussions in each area of the fine arts (dance, theater, music, and the visual arts). Each panel consists of a university or college professor in that field, a practicing professional in that field, a Howard County Public School System teacher in that field, and a Howard County Public School System alumni majoring in that field currently at a college or university. In addition, the panel moderator is often a parent of a current or former HCPSS student in that field. Students can expect to learn about such topics as: the proper preparation for applying to universities, college admissions practices, the realistic expectations of a fine arts major, how HCPSS prepared students for a career in the fine arts, and what is means to be a professional in the fine arts.

The next College Information Night will be held on Wednesday, October 7, 2015, 7-9:00 pm, at Centennial High School in Ellicott City. Registration begins at 6:30 pm.

New Clarinet Today

Thank you, Music & Arts of Ellicott City and Stephen Byrd, for a wonderful experience today. One of my middle school students is the lucky, new owner of a Buffet E11 intermediate clarinet today, and both she and her mother were so pleased by the experience we had.

I was able to visit the store thirty minutes before my student in order to try the clarinets I had in mind for her. I played through the Yamaha 450N, Buffet E11, and Buffet E12F clarinets in a lesson room with plenty of privacy and pleasant assistance from the manager and his staff. Once my student and her mother arrived, I had Grace play through all the models and tell me which she felt played the best. Luckily, we agreed on which clarinet played the easiest and had the warmest tone: the Buffet E11.

Everyone walked away from today’s experience happy, and now Grace sounds even better than she already did. Thank you, again, Music & Arts of Ellicott City.

Updated Études for Junior and Senior All-State

The Maryland Music Educators Association has released the updated lists for both junior and senior All-State this week. In years past, there was a four-year rotation of the same études, so this presents nearly a complete departure from said rotation. I am on board with this, being fairly new to Maryland’s system for All-State.

After looking over the lists for clarinet, I can already see that judging All-State again this year will be challenging. The octave jumps on page 23 at 120 bpm will be a true test of the students’ abilities and our patience as judges. That said, I remember mastering the same étude when I was a sophomore clarinetist, auditioning for West Virginia All-State. Ah, memories.

MBDA List 2015-16

Poulenc Sextet for Winds and Piano

I am constantly moved by music, and this piece serves as my current obsession. This performance is nearly flawless and musically mature. Of special interest to me is that the wind players are standing, which is a rare sight in quintet performances, in my experience.

The staging of this ensemble is brilliant, because not only is the piano featured in the middle of the group, but the open piano lid provides a perfect wall for bouncing the horn sound back into the ensemble and, subsequently, the crowd. The intonation is out-of-this-world perfect, which completely blows me away, and the constant eye contact and non-verbal queues are something young ensemble musicians should be required to study.

At times, it seems the clarinetist overpowers the group, which could be a function of the space, but he is quite an accomplished technician. The timbre of the flutist’s low register is so incredibly resonant, warm, and rich, but it seems she abdicates the control of the group to the clarinetist and oboist. That has happened with a number of wind quintets I have played in, too, so this is not a negative point in my book.

I applaud the hornist and bassoonist for standing and playing so precisely. Typically, these instrumentalists play most of their work seated, and these two lovely ladies, quite frankly and without intention of pun, blew me away with their artistry and cooperative styles. They are the standouts in this performance.

The pianist handles himself quite well within the group, and he played more responsively to the wind players than I expected. At times, his playing seemed a bit heavier than is my taste, but he made quite a great addition to this group.

Hope this piece brings joy to my readers as well!

Hello world!


I have been kicking around the idea of a clarinet blogsite for quite some time now, and I gave myself the summer of 2015 as a deadline to do so. I plan to keep my studio information, performance information, and general clarinet topics here for my clients and colleagues to peruse.