The Woodwind Area at NIU studios include flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and classical saxophone. instruction, and instruction in woodwind and mixed chamber music. As a music major, in addition to the music core curriculum, you’ll work with our world-renown faculty in weekly lessons.
Applied woodwind instruction is provided in a variety of private and group settings, including chamber music and woodwind area convocations. Convocations focus on student performances, often with follow-up guidance from faculty, and presentations and coaching by guest artists. Students compete fall semester in the School of Music Concerto Competition and spring semester in the School of Music Chamber Music Competition.
Each instrument-specific studio will have special projects and requirements such as studio recitals and the annual NIU Clarinet Cornucopia. We tailor your instrument study around your developing interests. Your instructor will introduce a wide gamut of study, performance and research ideas to inspire you semester-by-semester in your musical growth. Your instructor will customize your curriculum while ensuring that all students meet standards as outlined by the School of Music. Observation of additional lessons and duo lessons are encouraged.
In general, lessons devote time to a variety of areas each building on the previous. You will explore the best ergonomics in relation to your instrument, how the physics of your instrument necessitate changes in embouchure and tongue position, use of air, and relative muscular/exertion strengths of each system: air, embouchure, fingers and tongue. You will be guided in specific exercises to explore and enhance all of these areas in your playing.
A technical foundation in scale, arpeggio and other patterns (and the music-theoretical understanding of them) will be accomplished through guided practice. Once you have developed solid neural memory of the generic patterns musical expression takes on more possibilities. You can only convey musically what you can perform technically. The goal is for your musical expression not to be limited by lack of technique.
You will use your technical foundation in musically expressive materials. Your repertoire will include study of a wide variety of etudes, solo and chamber pieces and orchestral excerpts. Students improvise and compose their own study and performance music. Solo and chamber music becomes an increasingly large portion of your material in lessons over time.
Students audition for and participate in our numerous classical, jazz, and world music ensembles. Following large ensemble auditions you may be asked to perform on piccolo, English horn, E-flat clarinet, A clarinet, bass clarinet, contra alto clarinet, or a member of the saxophone family other than one you own. These instruments will be available to use at no charge. Your instructor may also request you use an auxiliary instrument in chamber or instrumental choir music organized within a studio.
I would definitely thank my private lessons instructor [Greg] Barrett. He is such an interesting individual, and he’s always so cheery and excited to talk about the clarinet and to hear what students are doing. He really expanded my knowledge of the clarinet and gave me plenty of things to work on. Things that I can bring to my younger students in the classroom. Those are all things that I really latch on to, especially now that I’ve been teaching a lot of my students digitally.
- Andrew Brimm, NIU ‘20