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The Clarke Method for Trombone has some uncommon features not found in other method books.
1. The use of the key of “C” for the initial 33 exercises. The author then progresses through all of the keys, alternating the sharp (first) and flat keys through to six sharps and six flats by the end of exercise 155.
2. There are no exercises devoted solely to minor keys. However, Clarke employs the minor mode in all of his exercises through the use of scales and arpeggios, so in fact the performer is receiving a steady “diet” of minor melody “built in” for him/her.
3. Clarke uses no metronome markings. He explains; “each exercise should be practiced carefully over and over again until every difficulty is thoroughly overcome – until the exercise can be played through correctly – before going on to the next.” His purpose is to avoid speeding through them.
Clarke’s exercises are progressive throughout the keys, however each one starts out easily in order to keep the student focused on the new key and the new progression notes that come with it. For the advanced performer, this book is great to use as a way to ease back into shape after a rest from the instrument, allowing the performer to “relearn” the instrument carefully and methodically. I use it also for tone building, phrasing, and breath control. Throughout the book, Clarke reminds the performer to always produce a noble sound, stressing natural playing (without forcing) and relaxation. His phrase, “the breath is the life of the tone”, is a phrase that Remington used throughout his great teaching career as well. Clarke talks about tonguing, saying that, “the tongue is used merely as an aid in articulating – not as a necessity… the tone does not depend on the tongue… the tongue should not be made too important…”
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