2015-16 TTU Clarinet Studio Overview

2015-16 TTU Clarinet Studio 

This year, my studio is joined by four excellent freshman clarinet majors (two performance and two music education) with one more coming in the Spring 2016. Four of my seniors will be out student teaching (residency). Two of them are planning to apply to graduate schools. The students will actively participate in our growing Clarinet Choir (the group had a chance to work with the Pulitzer-prize winning composer Steve Reich as well as the renowned bass-clarinet duo, Sqwonk, last year), clarinet chamber ensembles, reed-making class, orchestral excerpt class, and more. Please stay tuned for a major update coming up for our Studio Website (with individual student bios, studio and student recital schedule, etc.) and visit often!

We also have some very impressive programs! Here are some of the highlight repertoires that our students will work on and perform on various occasions:

  • W. A. Mozart - Clarinet Concerto
  • Aaron Copland - Clarinet Concerto
  • C. M. v. Weber - Concertino
  • C. M. v. Weber - Clarinet Concerto No. 1
  • Louis Spohr - Clarinet Concerto No. 4
  • Gerald Finzi - Clarinet Concerto
  • Igor Stravinsky - Three Pieces
  • Donald Martino - A Set for Clarinet Solo
  • Paul Harvey - Three Etudes on Theme of Gershwin
  • Heinrich Sutermeister - Capriccio for Solo Clarinet 
  • Scott McAllister - Freebirds
  • Giuseppe Verdi/Bassi - Fantasy on the Theme from "Rigoletto"
  • Francis Poulenc - Clarinet Sonata
  • Andre Messager - Solo de Concours
  • Wilson Osborn - Rhapsody for Solo Clarinet
  • Henri Rabaud - Solo de Concours
  • Robert Schumann - Fantasy Pieces
  • Gerald Finzi - Five Bagatelles
  • Saint-Saens - Clarinet Sonata
  • Johannes Brahms - Clarinet Sonata No. 1 and 2

Our students will also work on the following etudes throughout the year:

  • Hite - Melodious and Progressive Studies for Clarinet, Book 1
  • Rose - 40 Studies and 32 Etudes
  • Polatschek - Advanced Studies for the Clarinet
  • Uhl - 48 Studies for Clarinet
  • Jeanjean - 18 etudes de Perfectionnement
  • Jeanjean - 16 Etudes Modernes
  • Excerpts from my own soon-to-be-published exercises 

TTU Society of Clarinet recently elected its new officers:

  • Sarah McMichen, president
  • Torey Hart, vice president
  • Caroline Brightwell, secretary
  • Austine Wilson, treasurer
  • Delaney Naffziger, official spokesperson and social media coordinator!

The organization will help planning various fundraising events, a spring break trip to soon-to-be-revealed location, and the annual TTU Clarinet Day. Now, let us begin!

TECHnovations Interview

My recent hour-long interview with Penny Brooks for WTTU 88.5FM's TECHnocations is scheduled to air today at 11am. I enjoyed talking to Penny about my teaching, research (creative works), and music entrepreneurship. 

You can also listen to or download the podcast here: http://www.technovations.libsyn.com (Episode 13: Dr. Wonkak Kim, assistant professor of clarinet in the College of Education, discusses his scholarly work as a soloist and member of chamber groups, including one in which he is co-founder, enhake. Two musical works are featured, one a solo work and one performed by enhake.) 

Jonathan Copeland's Semi-Annual TTU Visit

Jonathan Copeland, the clarinet specialist and repairman at Onks Woodwind Specialist

Keeping one's instrument in optimum condition should be one of the top priorities for both professional musicians and music students. With our diligent practicing and playing schedule (hopefully...), our instruments' mechanism can only withstand so much. Keys will bend, pads will wear out, screws will become loose, and various debris will collect even with regular cleaning and maintenance. For younger students who do not take proper care of their instruments, the problems are often exacerbated. To give a few examples:


  • the instrument's performance will be drastically reduced
  • lead to far serious issues such as crack, etc.
  • difficulties in execution and inconsistent intonation
  • unsanitary and disturbing accumulation of things you don't want to see
  • frustration and much hinderance to expressing one's artistic vision
  • bad habits will form by struggling with instruments that are not finely tuned


We already have enough to worry about aside from the mechanical issues of our instruments. Therefore, It is highly recommended that everyone should take his/her instruments to a professional repairperson (hopefully a specialist) at least once or twice a year. It can be challenging to find a time to send off the instrument for repair or overhaul. The costs associated with repair/adjustment also can be a reason that some people (especially students) put it off. 

Since few years ago, I have partnered with Onks Woodwind Specialist in Smyrna, TN to provide my studio a bit easier access to a skilled repairman. Jonathan Copepland, the company's clarinet specialist visit TTU each semester to work on various adjustment and minor repair works for our students. After signing up for time slots, students can drop off their instruments to Jonathan who works on them throughout the day in our music building. He also gives each students personalized advices and helps them to schedule a full overhaul if necessary. Since we bundle this together, students can enjoy the streamlined repair service and relatively affordable costs (most works are done in around 30 minutes, and their instruments play far better in the end). 

Many thanks to Jonathan for his visit, and we all look forward to seeing him again in April!

Jonathan doing his repair work on our students' instruments

Now I have a lot of sticky notes. Want some? Stop by at my studio for one. First come, first serve!

Now I have a lot of sticky notes. Want some? Stop by at my studio for one. First come, first serve!

QEP Excellence Award in Innovative Instruction

with TTU Provost Ghorashi 

I am very honored to be a recipient of the QEP Excellence Award for Innovative Instruction for my project during 2013-14. I first came across the QEP during my first year at Tennessee Tech when I attended the new faculty orientation. This program was implemented in early 2000s by TN Board of Regents and provides a significant amount of funding to encourage innovative instructional projects. The goal is to help students cultivate critical thinking, real-world problem solving, and communication skills. I have received funding from QEP for the past three consecutive years (over $10,000) that made several dream projects come into reality. Here are some examples, and you can read more about them here:

  • "Cultivating Musical Entrepreneurship through Chamber Music Ensembles"
  • "Reed-Making Workshop"
  • "How to Develop and Maintain Successful Private Studios" (to be implemented during 2014-15)

My foremost goal as a teacher is to help students develop the highest standards of musicianship and proficiency. But I also strongly believe that we need to do more:

  • Providing opportunities and seed projects for students to become self-driven 
  • Teaching all aspects of music entrepreneurship, including programming, publicity, fund-raising, soliciting, development, etc.
  • Giving students exposure to all available resources, technology, and cutting-edge ideas
  • Helping students develop specific goals for the next decade and long-term vision for the future
  • Instilling a sense of responsibility and vocation for their lives as musicians, educators, and entrepreneurs
  • Helping them to build their professional network early on 
  • The list is endless and is keep growing...

I feel very fortunate that my own teachers showed me many great examples back in school. I hope I can do the same. There are many challenges ahead for students pursuing musical career, but I am also genuinely excited for the tremendous opportunities awaiting them. 

Who doesn't like being given a plaque (and a $1,000 cash incentive)?

A student named Tennessee state winner of the MTNA Young Artist Woodwind Competition!

Sarah McMichen, a freshman clarinet performance major in my studio, was named the winner of the 2014 MTNA Young Artist Competition in Tennessee. Her program included Weber's Clarinet Concerto No. 2, Poulenc's Clarinet Sonata, Sutermeister's Capriccio for Solo Clarinet, and Saint-Saëns' Clarinet Sonata. She competed among 12 undergraduate and graduate students from all over the state of Tennessee. She is set to perform at the Southern Division Competition in Louisville, KY in January 2014.    

Source: http://www.tnmta.org/admin/resources/mtna-...

A student to be featured as a soloist with Maryville Orchestra

Here is an article from The Greenville Sun published on February 23, 2013 about my student Sarah McMichen on her recent win at the Maryville College Concerto Competition. Sarah was featured as a soloist with the orchestra performing Weber's Concertino.

Sarah McMichen Featured Soloist In March 4 Concert

MARYVILLE - The Orchestra of Maryville College will present a "Showcase of Area Artists" on March 4, with Greeneville's Sarah McMichen to be one of eight soloists.

McMichen will perform Concertino for Clarinet in E flat Major, op. 26 by Carl Maria von Weber.

McMichen is the daughter of John McMichen and Cynthia Tannert and is a freshman at Tennessee Technological University, where she is studying clarinet under Dr. Wonkak Kim.

Previously, McMichen studied under Randall Misamore.

She is a member of the TTU Clarinet Society, the TTU Wind Ensemble, the TTU Marching Band and the TTU Clarinet Quartet.

She previously was a member of the Knoxville Youth Jazz Orchestra, the Symphony of the Mountains Youth Orchestra and the East Tennessee Youth Wind Ensemble.

In 2012, she attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts, and she participated in the Tennessee All-State Jazz Band and TTU Festival of Winds and Percussion.

In 2011, she attended the Governor's School for the Arts. She participated in the Tennessee All-State Concert Band in 2010 and 2011.

Conductor Bill Robinson will lead the orchestra in a performance of concerto works at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 4, in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre of the Clayton Center for the Arts on the college campus.

The annual Showcase of Area Artists provides a performance opportunity for talented area musicians and features a wide variety of musical styles and instruments.

Artists are selected by a panel of judges during auditions held each December.

A college and community ensemble, the Orchestra at Maryville College brings live symphonic performances to the public stage four times per season.

"The Showcase Concert is the high water mark of what the college orchestra is all about," Robinson said in a press release. "We give young, extremely talented students the rare opportunity to perform as soloists with full symphonic accompaniment. It is the perfect blend of our educational mission, as well as our role of bringing live classical music to our community."

Tickets are available at the Clayton Center Box Office and are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (age 60 and older) and $5 for non-MC students. Tickets are free to MC faculty, staff and students with ID (although a printed ticket is required for admission).

For more information, contact the Division of Fine Arts at (865) 981-8150.

Source: http://www.greenevillesun.com/news/sarah-m...