Peter J Moore author of Playing the Clarinet is EasyPeter J Moore

Clarinet, Flute and Saxophone Teacher.

Stockport, England.

(44) 0161 283 6825

You are never too old to learn to play music.

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In addition to my private teaching practice, I am a partner in Dr Downing Music. 

At the age of 18, I taught myself to play the clarinet.  Like so many others before me and since, I struggled to achieve a good technique despite the contradictory advice offered in the then existing primers and tutor books.  If there is a fault to be played on the clarinet, I have suffered them all.

Believe me, those books that I learned from are STILL in publication today but were originally written in the 1930's. Yes, in the last century - BEFORE men landed on the moon!

At the age of 40, I took up the flute, with the intention of becoming a teacher.  I studied first with Joan Miller and then with Jane Pickles, Principal Flute in the BBC Concert Orchestra.  I have attended residential courses with Susan Milan, Sebastian Bell and studied the clarinet with the late Pamela Weston.

In the past 60 years of playing and 35+ years of teaching, I have developed my own ideas of how the clarinet, flute and saxophone could be taught - with the finest teachers possible - my pupils.  This research and experimentation has resulted in a method of teaching  which is highly effective, particularly with beginners - even old ones like me.

I learned from bitter personal experience, that the standard method of teaching the clarinet, advocated in primers and tutor books,  is seriously flawed.  Yet, correctly taught, the clarinet is incredibly easy to play.

My major criticisms of the standard tutor book methods are:

a)   Pupils are given a soft reed and the standard advice to "turn your lip back and blow".  There is usually little or no further explanation about developing an embouchure. As a result,  pupils often spend more than a year struggling in the bottom register with a dreadful tone. 

b)  The fingering taught to clarinet beginners is dumbed down and the concept of a "break" is taught, creating a mental hang-up.  Every other woodwind instrument has a "break" where registers change from low to high, but it is never taught to be a problem.  Worse, having learned this "baby-talk" way of playing, if they are lucky, students are then shown the better and correct method.  This "learning and unlearning" process is contrary to all good teaching practice.  Is it then, any surprise that within 12 months, most learners give up playing the clarinet, thinking that they are failures?

They are WRONG - the method of teaching is the failure - NOT the learners.

There is absolutely no good reason why clarinet students should be initially taught exclusively in the bottom register of the instrument. My students ALL start playing the clarion register with a correct embouchure and only move lower as their embouchure develops - which is many times quicker than conventional teaching.

When I met Sandra Downing, who had likewise suffered from poor bassoon teaching, we decided to try to do something to help other sufferers, thus the Dr Downing Doctor Books were born.

My method is clearly explained in our latest book, Playing the Clarinet is Easy!

The Clarinettist's Technique Doctors, also show you how to develop excellent tone and finger technique from the start - without biting or blowing.  In this method, the "break" doesn't exist.  Using my methods, students normally achieve passes at Associated Board Grade 5 in 18 months, those of higher ability in a year.

With the onset of osteoarthritis in my late 60's affecting my fingers and restricting my ability to play the clarinet, I decided to take up the Bass Trombone at the tender age of 69. Adrian "Benny" Morris, Senior Tutor of Trombone at the RNCM in Manchester and Principal Bass Trombone with the Hallé Orchestra agreed to teach me. The result of this venture is a whole new series of books and charts for Trombonists.

Age is no barrier to learning! You are never too old to learn to play music - as I prove daily.

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