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Clarinet Notes News, Issue #006 -- Kalmen Opperman's 90th Birthday, 2.0 and Gifts
November 30, 2009

My Friends,

Long time, no hear. This Clarinet Notes Newsletter features a little Thanksgiving story in honor of Kalmen Opperman, in celebration of his 90th birthday; news about 2.0 and Clarinet Gifts.

Kalmen Opperman’s 90th Birthday

If you live in the New York City area, December 1st, 8 p.m., is a musical celebration of Kalmen Opperman’s 90th birthday at Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall in New York City. Tickets are $15.00 at the box office or with a large service charge via this link


Here is the music being planned (not necessarily in this order):

Adam Ebert: 3 of Kal's studies

Joel Rubin and Ensemble: Klezmer Music

Orlando Tognozzi: Kalmen Opperman arrangement of a Telemann piece

Richard Stoltzman/Fred Sherry/Paul Neubauer: Opperman arrangement of Bach Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Cello

Alex Brodsky and Leonard Hindell (bassoon): Opperman transcription of Bach duo

NY Double Reed Kammer Musick Ensemble, renaissance music

Richard Stoltzman and Mika Yoshida: Roie, by Kalmen Opperman

Kalmen Opperman Choir: Danny Boy

Richard Stoltzman: En Seul by Kalmen Opperman

I had the luxury of studying with Mr. Opperman for 10-years. I’d still study with him today if I wasn’t running around with my head cut-off all of the time right now. Much of is the teaching of Mr. Opperman and how I’ve practiced using his methods. I’m not even close to his expectations on clarinet. Not even scratched the surface.

However, I’d like to share one funny story of how much of a Clarinet Guru he is and how much he is dedicated to the clarinet. Probably Thanksgiving of 1995, I was single and had no family visiting me in New York and I scheduled a clarinet lesson with Mr. Opperman on the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving Day.

That afternoon, I’m sure my lesson was at 3 p.m. as I usually had with him. I rang the bell, Louis, his wife, buzzed me in, and they let me in the door of his apartment/clarinet studio/clarinet workshop. I went straight to the lesson room to get my clarinet together.

Oddly enough, Kal was not in there. He and Louis were back in the kitchen and I could smell the aroma of something cooking. Now, being a true Southern boy, the Thanksgiving heritage of my Mom is to start cooking the night before Thanksgiving. I figured this is what is going on back there.

I put my clarinet together and blew a few notes and sat there. Kal never even really liked anyone blowing a few notes, much less warming up or trying reeds. So, I waited.

Eventually, Kal and Louis called for me. “Hey Chris, can you come in here?” So, I did. I walked into the kitchen to find a big pot of something boiling. Kal and Louis had a ladle and were pouring the “soup” into something very small and intricate.

Matter of fact, they were little plastic boxes. I went, “What are you making?” “Cork grease,” said Kal. “What, you are making cork grease on the eve of Thanksgiving?” I looked at the kitchen table to find a bucket of all sorts of jars of creams and oils, Oil of Olay, Vasoline Petroleum Jelly, etc…

I had to ask, “What are you making it with? Typical Kalmen Opperman answer, “It’s a secret formula, can’t tell you. It’ll help preserve your corks.” Once the little cork grease plastic boxes cooled off, he and Louis put the little plastic lids on top, scratched in a K.O. on the box, and gave one to me.

I believe I still have my little box of Kal’s cork grease somewhere. I’d have to do some digging to find it though.

I know the lesson that followed was probably very monumental as all of Kal’s lessons were. But, this Southern boy will never forget visiting a clarinet guru on the eve of Thanksgiving cooking Cork Grease.

Happy Birthday Mr. Opperman!!! We hope to celebrate your one hundredth birthday in a decade. 2.0

SO, I GET EMAIL QUESTIONS FROM YOU OFTEN. I send answers you the answers and I think, these might help other people. So, I added 2.0. Visit my Contact Page and send me your questions. I’ll answer them publically and assuming I feel confident with the answer, it’ll be published on

I’m especially interested in hearing if you run sectionals and/or have sectionals often at your school, college, conservatory, community band or professional group. I have one entry already regarding clarinet sectionals right here.

Clarinet Gifts


Have you given your parents, relatives or any loved ones your Christmas list yet? Do they have clarinet related items on them? If so, have them visit Clarinet Gifts.

Remember what Kal Opperman said,

Thanks. I appreciate your interest in and wish you the best of practicing.


Chris Jones

Get Zazzle products here.

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