Studio Trip to NYC

TTU Clarinet Studio at Lincoln Center

I worked very hard with some of my exceptional students and officers of the TTU Clarinet Studio to plan for our 3-day trip to New York City during the spring break of 2015. Our proposal for TTU's URECA Grant was approved, and we received $5,000 to cover our students' airfare, hotel lodging and other expenses. In addition, our students successfully carried out various successful fund-raising campaigns, virtually making the trip fully funded. In the end, twelve students from TTU Clarinet Studio joined in the trip, made of whom have never been to NYC. Thanks to additional sponsorship and support by my colleagues at Buffet Crampon and Vandoren, our students had some tremendous musical opportunities during their stay. 

Freshman Clarinet Quartet performing at the Buffet Showroom NYC

Boris Allakhverdyan Master Class

Listening to a presentation by David Gould

Vandoren Musician's Advisory Studio

Boris Allakhverdyan, the principal clarinetist of Met Opera and newly appointed principal clarinetist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, spent two hours with several of our students giving master classes and coaching at the Buffet Crampon Showroom NYC. Not only we enjoyed many insights Boris shared with us, our students were thrilled to hear him later that evening at Met Opera's production of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. I also took the studio to Vandoren's Studio on the 54th St., where students got to learn a great deal about the production process of reeds and mouthpieces and try them out. The final evening was spent on attending NY Philharmonic concert where they performed Brahms's German Requiem. What a musically enriching spring break for everyone it was!

A short stop by at Carnegie Hall

Students getting ready to see Mozart's Marriage of Figaro at Met

Our students after NY Phil Concert at David Geffen Hall

In numerous occasions, I served as a tour guide to our students, taking them to various landmarks of NYC and fun. More importantly, we ventured into some of my favorite stops to eat in Manhattan, including Shake Shack and Totto Ramen. 

Being happy at Shake Shack!

Some struggle in using chopsticks at Totto Ramen where they don't have forks, etc.

TTU Clarinet Studio's last minute lunch together in NYC before heading back to La Guardia

2015 TTU Clarinet Symposium

TTU Clarinet Student Duo Sarah McMichen and Anjali Sivaainkaran performing Poulenc's Duo for high school participants at...

Posted by TTU Clarinet Studio & Society of Clarinet on Sunday, November 22, 2015

Here are some additional pictures from last Friday's TTU All-Star Instrumental Symposium. We had such a great turnout...

Posted by TTU Clarinet Studio & Society of Clarinet on Sunday, November 22, 2015

NYC Trip

I had a wonderful weekend in NYC meeting and catching up with some friends and visiting the studios of Buffet and Vandoren!

Me and Grace with clarinetist and friend Thomas Piercy

Playing some duets at Tom's apartment at the Manhattan Plaza!

It was a great day here at the NY Showroom! We had a wonderful visit from Prof of Clarinet at Tennessee Tech University...

Posted by Buffet Group USA New York Showroom on Thursday, May 14, 2015

Vandoren Instagram!

2015 Tennessee Tech Clarinet Day

Last Saturday, I hosted our annual Clarinet Day at TTU. Although I face a multitude of challenges each year planning for the event, I feel tremendously fortunate to have wonderful colleagues, students, sponsors, and community to make it possible. This year, I asked my student Delaney to write a report to submit to our upcoming Clarinet Magazine issue and other newsletters:

A Report by Delaney Naffziger (pending publications by ICA Clarinet Magazine and WKA Newsletter) - published in this blog with the permission by the author

2015 TTU Clarinet Day Group Photo

On April 18th, 2015, Tennessee Technological University held its annual Clarinet Day on campus in Cookeville, Tennessee. The event was led and coordinated by the university’s assistant professor of clarinet, Dr. Wonkak Kim. In the past, this event has primarily consisted of local clarinetists of all ages coming together for a day dedicated to choir ensemble playing; however, when Dr. Kim took the assistant professorship in 2011, he began to reconstruct the event, keeping its community choir foundations but gradually expanding the event to contain guests artists, master classes, and a wide range of clarinet products available to be enjoyed by all participants.

Sqwonk Recital

The event kicked off at 9AM with opening remarks made by Dr. Kim and was immediately followed by the Clarinet Day Artist Recital. Dr. Kim opened the recital with the beautiful works Deuxieme Sonate pour clarinette et piano by François Devienne and Introduction et Rondo, Op.72 by CH-M Widor and was accompanied by  Dr. Eunhye Grace Choi on piano. The program continued with guest artist Matthew Miracle performing Shovelhead for Clarinet and Electronics by Steven Snowden. The recital concluded with the day’s main guest artists Jonathon Russell and Jeff Anderle, members of the San Francisco bass clarinet duo Sqwonk, who performed stunningly their works KlezDuo by Jonathon Russell and Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Bach (arr. Russell).

The day immediately continued with a full clarinet choir rehearsal consisting of all participants under the direction of Dr. Kim. The choir played Tarantella, Op. 102/3 by Mendelssohn, Introduction and Rondo by Gordon Jacob, and Clarinet Polka arranged by Eric Osterling.

TTU Clarinet Day Ensemble Rehearsal

After a brief lunch break, participants reconvened to watch a master class led by Sqwonk members featuring TTU students Sarah McMichen, Anjali Sivaainkaran, and Michaela Cundari. Jeff Anderle and Jon Russell worked with these students addressing many key issues which affect all players. Sarah McMichen played excerpts from Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (Scherzo) and was encouraged not to get carried away with technical passages and to always remember that the goal is to make music, regardless of passage difficulty. Anjali Sivaainkaran performed Minuet from Bach’s First Cello Suite as Sqwonk members worked with her on remaining loose and relaxed even and especially during high passages. And Michaela Cundari played movement one of Sonata no. 2 by Brahms as Mr. Anderle had her and the audience work on projecting an upward airstream while pushing off with legs as well as practicing many different forms of phrasing.

Michaela playing Brahms Clarinet Sonata for Sqwonk

Anjali playing Bach's Cello Suite for Sqwonk Master Class

After another brief rehearsal with the choir, participants were encouraged to take a break and enjoy the various booths of the day’s sponsors including Buffet Group USA, Lohff and Pfeiffer, Onks Woodwind Specialist, Just For Winds, Silverstein Ligature, and Vandoren. 

TTU Clarinet Day Exhibition Room

Buffet Group USA

Silverstein Ligature Booth

At 4PM, the Final Concert began, opening with the Cookeville Community Band Clarinet Choir performing the works Three Baroque Dances by J.S. Bach (arr. Russell Howland), Klezmer Suite by Alexis Ciesla, New Orleans Medley arranged by Charles Rose, and The Chrysanthemum  by Scott Joplin (arr. William Schmidt). The concert continued with Sqwonk performing Bass Clarinet Double Concerto by Jonathon Russell accompanied by the TTU Clarinet Choir. The concert was concluded by the Clarinet Day Choir; however, before the final performance, Dr. Kim presented a plaque of appreciation to Tennessee Tech’s clarinet professor emeritus Dan Hearn for his unending dedication to the studio even after retirement. 

2015 TTU Clarinet Day Mass Clarinet Choir - Any clarinet lover is invited to play in it at the final concert! (Gordon Jacob - Introduction and Rondo - Wonkak Kim, director)

Overall, TTU Clarinet Day 2015 was a fantastic event enjoyed by all. Thanks to the diligent work and organization of  Dr. Kim, the event came together seamlessly and held diverse aspects enjoyable to all clarinet lovers alike. It was both an enjoyable and educational experience which is sure to have inspired all participants. For information about how to partake in this annual event, please visit the website at or contact Dr. Kim (

Cookeville Community Band Clarinet Choir

Another BUSY weekend for Buffet Crampon USA! We were at the Tennessee Tech Clarinet Day, hosted by Clarinet Artist...

Posted by Buffet Crampon USA on Monday, April 20, 2015

Here is an album of pictures from Clarinet Day at Tennessee Tech University. One of our PRO Team members, Professor...

Posted by Silverstein Ligature on Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Latest from Vandoren - My First Look at V21

I was greeted by couple of packages from Vandoren when I returned from my recent trip to GA. This time, in addition to my regular V12 reeds, I asked for few products I wanted to try out, including HRC20 Hygro Reed Case, Juno reeds (great reeds for beginners and young students), 5RVs, and the recently announced V21 reeds.

My primary choice for reeds has been Vandoren V12 3.5+ and occasionally rue lepic (I have not used Traditional reeds for many years). Naturally I was anticipating some good results with V21 since it "combines the conical shape of a 56 rue epic reeds with a V12 profile" (you can read more about it here). 

It is very difficult to precisely describe the particular tendencies of different lines of reed. However, I will try to generalize the characteristics of V12 and rue lepic based on hundreds of reeds I have used over the course of many years. I find that V12 reeds have a very strong core that enables great focus, direct response, and intensity in sound. When the reed is well balanced, it allows both full elastic projection and subtle responses to great satisfaction. On a downside, I find V12 sometimes results in a bit sharp, edgy (even thin) sound with slightly abundant resistance.  Rue lepic, on the other hand, feels warmer, more even throughout, and more refined, but I miss the strong center that I enjoy in V12 (on a simplest term, it just feels softer than what I would like).

I was advised to try V21 3.5 and 3.5+ to my current setup--M13 Lyre. The immediate reaction was highly encouraging.

V21 Front Side

V21 Back Side

After playing for few minutes, I was convinced that the V21 is really a good compromise of what I wished to have from both V12 and rue lepic. V21 3.5+ felt a bit harder than V12 3.5+, but I could make both V21 3.5 and 3.5+ work for my current setup. To me V21 felt closer to rue lepic than V12 but with much improvement, particularly on its center and strength. The sound is very even and well refined. Articulation and maintaining good intonation is easy, too. I plan on playing both V12 and V21 for a while.  

Vandoren Reed Comparison Chart (from

Vandoren Reed Comparison Chart (from

Vandoren HRC20 Hygro Reed Case

Quick note on HRC20 Hygro Reed Case: these reed cases are super light and easy to use/refill (with humidity control). Check out a video made by David Gould at Vandoren website here.

I also found this wonderful Vandoren vest sent as a surprise holiday gift in my office mail. Thank you Vandoren!

A Sneak Preview: 2015 TTU Clarinet Day

I've been very busy during past several days putting together various details for the upcoming Clarinet Day at Tech. Scheduled for April 17th and 18th of 2015, this is the fourth and the largest Clarinet Day I am hosting since my arrival at TTU. The line-up of guest artists are truly unique and impressive: Sqwonk, the world's most exciting bass clarinet duo based in San Francisco, and KoMo Quartet, a recently formed projects by renowned clarinetists from South Korea and Montana. Like previous years, the event will provide many opportunities for our students and participants to attend guest artist recitals and master classes, try out the newest line of clarinet products by leading vendors, play in the clarinet choir, and interact with each other (and perhaps make some new friends)!

While the official flyers and schedule are being finalized, I wanted to leak some exciting details here:

2015 Guest Artists


Jeff Anderle (San Fransico Conservatory of Music) 

Jonathan Russell (Princeton University) 

KoMo Clarinet Quartet



Friday, April 17, 2015 at 7:30pm - Sqwonk will present an astounding and genre-defying recital