Life Update 2022 – Clarinet Repair

So much has changed since I wrote my one and only blog a billion years ago!

Since graduating in 2017, I haven’t stopped learning. In fact, since I completed my DMA, I have – 1. purchased a house 2. created a job and schedule that I haven’t wanted to quit, and 3. learned clarinet repair!

A long time ago, a seed was planted within my subconscious that led me to repairing clarinets, and I didn’t recall where/when/how that happened until right before I signed up for my first repair class. Up until that point, I attributed it to my interest in learning home repairs (and my house is a bit of a fixer upper, so I’ve done a lot of home repairs…).

During high school I had a pad on my clarinet fall off. I thought it was an easy fix, so I replaced the pad with some super glue. Turns out – that’s not what you’re supposed to do! I had it repaired by a professional, but it fell off again soon after. The late Leigh Boyce (may she Rest In Peace), who was my middle school band director, gave me a glue stick specifically for replacing pads, and showed me how to do it myself. I thought that was the coolest thing! To this day, I still have that glue stick, and I never had to use it again.

At least until I decided in September 2022 that I was tired of telling my students what was wrong with their instruments. I didn’t know how to fix those issues, so I kept sending instruments to local repair persons. One day, I stumbled upon the fact that Lisa’s Clarinet Shop had online repair courses for specific instruments, and the clarinet classes were taught by Bruce Marking. Bruce is a fantastic Master Repair Technician, and was recently recognized for his service by Buffet Crampon. Also, mind you, I don’t think that any repair courses were offered online prior to the Covid pandemic, when we were all forced to find new ways to present information to others.

Not wanting to rush into making a decision about a class that cost almost 3 of my mortgage payments, I decided to think on it and do some research for professional development grants and other funding that I might be able to apply for. I found one through Sigma Alpha Iota, and added it to the ‘pros’ on my ‘pros/cons’ list. (If you know me, you know I often do this when making a big decision.) I also asked Lisa and her salespeople a lot of questions about the class.

The night before I signed up, I had a dream about Ms. Boyce. She asked me “why do you want to repair clarinets?” I responded by telling her the story about how she was the one who showed me my first clarinet repair and basically planted the seed. All she said was “okay then”, and then she disappeared.

Within the week, I was registered for the class and paid for it with my emergency savings. I also applied for that SAI grant, and was awarded the max I could request. So far, I’ve overhauled and sold a 1940/50s (approx.) Evette & Schaeffer clarinet, and I’ve had 2 other clients. At some point (seemingly soon!), the class will pay for itself and I’m glad I decided to travel down this path.

Clarinet in C by Graves & Company is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

Losing My Voice

Well, today I decided to start my own blog post. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but I just didn’t have something that motivated me enough to write and share with others. Starting one of these blogs was a suggestion by my mentor, who suggested I start one to help with my thoughts and to practice writing for my DMA document (Yikes!).

I found that topic today (more like – it found me), so I decided to share it with other people. I find it very difficult to share some of my deeper thoughts and emotions, though I have no problem with sharing snap opinions and random thoughts. Hopefully, this will be entertaining, if not helpful, to someone.

The title, Losing My Voice, doesn’t have anything to do with not being heard as an individual, a woman, a young person, etc. It has everything to do with how I see the creation of true music.

Sometimes, and almost randomly, I find myself playing clarinet as if all of the emotion and personality has been drained out of body. Yesterday was one of those days. When creating music, I think that this is the most important thing to have, every time.

When I lose my voice, it not only affects my practice time, but it leaks into the rest of my day and sometimes my week. I haven’t pinpointed what causes it or why, but I do know what it takes for me to get out of that funky mood. It takes a sign.

Sometimes this sign can come in the form of a simple compliment or a good hug. Sometimes it can be heard through a recording of simple, yet beautiful piece of music or song. It can appear in a variety of ways as long as it grabs my attention.

Today, I got my sign. It appeared in the form of a letter that I wrote to myself on the last day of the SAVVY Musician in Action workshop/conference in June 2015. Although we were all required to write our future selves a letter, I never expected it to arrive in my mailbox at a time when I needed it the most.

Now, I won’t retype the entire letter, but I will quote one line that has given me a renewed motivation and encouragement, and overall, I’ve found my voice again.

“Just know that you have the tools to be brave and creative and to find the enjoyment and soul in things you love.”

I do have the tools to be what I want to be, do what I want to do, and feel how I want to feel, and so do you. The sign can come in different forms, but you’ll always know it when you find it.