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Clarinet Notes News, Issue #026 -- Bumblebee Loops No.1 on Kindle
May 01, 2024


Hello Friends,

Well, if you didn’t know already that I write and develop, but I’m also author of Bumblebee Loops – A Practice Guide to Performing a Lightning Fast Flight of the Bumblebee.

The last full week of April 2024 Bumblebee Loops hit on Amazon Kindle:

No. 1 on Woodwind Instrument Books

No. 1 on Brass Instrument Books

No. 4 on String Instrument Books

Now, keep in mind the algorithm changes every hour, so this number bounces around quite a bit. However, I’m still happy to see this progress.

Greatly under practiced is the chromatic scale. Learning and playing the major and minor scales is wacky important, but the chromatic scale needs to be added to the daily routine. Did you know the majority of The Flight of the Bumblebee is made of the chromatic scale?

During my first lesson with Kalmen Opperman, I learned quickly that I didn’t quite know my chromatic scale like I thought I did. Mr. Opperman taught me the entire basis of the clarinet from the chromatic scale.

In so many word Opperman essentially said I couldn’t play the chromatic scale. “Chris, if you can’t play a half step smoothly, how will you ever play any larger interval smoothly?,” Opperman posed to me during a lesson. Understand the timing of this statement, I was employed as a professional in the West Point Band and had three degrees in music. As I proceeded through Opperman’s lessons, The Flight of the Bumblebee became part of my daily routine. Slow and small sections to work out hand position and learn true legato smoothness.

Opperman would also play for me (on tape cassettes) recordings of other students performing the Bumblebee and to my amazement, they were going at quarter note = 208, a speed with which I couldn’t imagine on clarinet.

I later wrote out three clarinet parts so that the West Point Clarinet Quartet could play the accompaniment while I played the solo as the encore to our performances. I also played Bumblebee with the West Point Band and then several other guest appearances.

Over the years I’d set Bumblebee to the side and then pick it up again. I’d go over the trouble sections that needed brushing up to 208 again and play them in loops. To iron things out even better, I’d treat numerous sections of the solo to loops.

Why a loop? Well, I’ve tried this on non-Bumblebee passages and many times for myself and with my students. If you are having trouble with a passage, slow it down and play it correctly. Now, don’t just do this once, see if you can play the passage over and over repeated. If you can do this, knock the speed up a little bit. Eventually the idea is to loop the passage repeating several times flawlessly at performance speed.

Once you can do that, change to playing the passage in musical context and it will sound beautiful and flawless. This is what Bumblebee Loops teaches you. You do not have to be a professional or a music student to get the benefits of this book. Also, you do not have to have the goal of performing the Bumblebee. But the tips and techniques are there for you to digest and improve.

You can find both the hard copy ($9.99) and Amazon Kindle version ($3.99) right on this link: Bumblebee Loops

You can read more about the book at: Bumblebee Loops webpage info.

You can get clarinet hand position tips on these tutorial videos and practice with it: Bumblebee Loops exercise videos

Now, go practice! Go practice that chromatic scale and if you are bored with that, practice the “Flight of the Bumblebee” (which just happens to be the chromatic scale).


Chris Jones @clarinetnow

Check out my method book Bumblebee Loops.

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