Information for students

Nadeen Fankhauser

~Clarinetist and teacher

In the course of my 20 years of teaching the clarinet, I have taught several hundreds of students ages 7 to 55 at various schools, music institutions, universities, and summer programs. A great number of these students achieved a very high level of playing, having been awarded placement into state and regional honor ensembles, concerto performance opportunities, and several prestigious college music programs. Several have become professional musicians in their own right. 


My teaching style is highly dependent on the individual learning style of the student, as well as their age and skill level. Lessons are generally a healthy balance of instruction, encouragement, fun, and establishing high performance standards. I believe efficient practicing and an enthusiastic attitude are far more important elements for becoming a successful musician than talent will ever be. My job as a teacher is to set high goals, lay out a path towards achieving those goals, and offer applied and technical information that will remove hindrances from that path. 


You are welcome to come to my Park Slope studio in Brooklyn, NY, conveniently located near the F, G, R, 2, and 3 trains. In-home or school lessons are also available within a reasonable distance. 


Lessons are generally scheduled at the same time every week. If you have a conflict with a particular lesson, please let me know as soon as possible so that I can try to make up your lesson or rearrange my schedule. Payment in full is expected for any lesson missed without 24 hours notice.


Please contact me for current rates. I can accept cash, credit cards, and personal checks. 


I am here to help you become a more competent musician and better clarinet player. While I will definitely be available to answer any questions and help with confusing or difficult passages in the music of your choice or ensemble music, your primary assignments from me will be exercises and music that will build the skills for you to learn music easily on your own. Try to avoid using your lesson as your practice time. I encourage students to keep a practice journal. Each week, the student should write down what they covered in their lesson and their assignment for the next week. Each time they practice they should log the date, start and end time, and what they have practiced. Parents should feel free to monitor and help with students' practice journals. 


Lessons are an integral part of learning a musical instrument; however, lessons without regular home practice are far less effective. THE MORE YOU PRACTICE THE BETTER YOU WILL BE. It is very important that parents be encouraging and involved in setting up a practice routine. I understand that students’ schedules can be overwhelmingly busy, but 15 to 60 minutes a day (depending on the level of student) is absolutely necessary to maximizing your improvement. The hardest part is getting started!

Good practice techniques will save you a lot of time and frustration. It is best to practice on a routine, so find a certain time every day when you know you will be free and not prone to procrastination. A space without distractions is best. In your lessons, I will suggest warm-ups that you should do at the beginning of each of your practice sessions. They will involve long tones to develop sound and air control, scales to develop technique and general musical knowledge, and some articulation exercises. Be sure to devote a small amount of time to reed maintenance so that you know which of your reeds are the best, dispose of reeds that no longer work, and break in new reeds as needed.

Set specific goals in your practice session and be sure to work on the passages that give you the most trouble; the ones you wish you could avoid. YOU WILL ALWAYS IMPROVE FASTEST BY PRACTICING SLOWLY AND DELIBERATELY. Rushing through and repeating mistakes only makes them happen more consistently. Spend as much effort as possible to learn music correctly the very first time you play it. In this way, you will spend less time trying to fix bad habits and more time raising the quality of performance through musicality, faster tempos where applicable, intonation, attention to detail, good sound, and clean articulation. Be sure to allow yourself small breaks to refocus your effort if you get distracted or frustrated.


It is the nature of being an instrumentalist that you can not become a great clarinet player without working equipment. I recommend the following items, but these are definitely not the only quality choices. If you already have your equipment I will let you know if I think it will restrict your progress. If you choose to purchase something other than what I have listed here, I highly recommend consulting with me first. Options are generally listed in order of my preference. All equipment should specify B-flat clarinet unless you have been assigned otherwise.

Buffet B12 or Yamaha YCL-250
Buffet R13
Hite Premeire, Fobes Debut, or Yamaha C4
Vandoren M13 Lyre, Vandoren 5RV Lyre, Richard Hawkins "S"
Bonade inverted, Rovner Eddie Daniels, or Vandoren Optimum
There are many to choose from; please consult with me before buying. 

Combination metronome/tuner: Korg TM-40
Mouthpiece cushion: Bay medium thickness (.44 mm)
Cork grease: any

It is always a good idea to comparison shop to find the best service and prices on materials. Here are some resources to get you started. Your local music stores may be convenient as well, but their selection is often limited. 

These are some of the books I use. I will assign one or two of them after I hear you play in your first lesson.
Weber, Clarinet Student, Level One, Belwin-Mills Publishers
Eisenhauer, Learn to Play Clarinet Duets, Alfred Publishers
Weber, Clarinet Student, Level Two, Belwin-Mills Publishers
Hite, Progressive and Melodious Studies, Southern Music Publishers
Concert and Contest Collection, Rubank Publishers
Hendrickson, Method for Clarinet, Book-two, Alfred Publishers
Bearmann, Method, Book III, Op. 63, Carl Fischer or Southern Music Publishers
Rose, 32 Etudes, Carl Fischer or Southern Music Publishers
World’s Favorite Concert Solos For Clarinet, No. 134, Ashley Publishers



We are instrumentalists and we rely on our instruments to be in good working order so that we can reach our potential. As enjoyable as it is to play the clarinet, it should be seen as a fragile tool or machine rather than a toy. Here are some guidelines to ensure that your clarinet will continue to work for you and enable you to play.

Use cork grease liberally on new corks or when it becomes difficult to put the joints together. You should not have to use a huge amount of force when assembling or dissembling your instrument since this could bend the keys. Take care to wipe any remaining cork grease from your fingers before you play, so that it does not build up in the tone holes. This can affect intonation by making the holes smaller.

When assembling your clarinet, build it from bottom to top. First put the bell on the lower joint then put the upper joint on the lower joint. Take care to press down the keys of the upper joint that raise the bridge so that the two parts do not collide and bend. You can then add the barrel, mouthpiece, and ligature. The reed should always be put on last by loosening the ligature and sliding the reed in from the top, then tightening the ligature screws. This is to avoid contact between the ligature and the tip of the reed (the most fragile part). Before attaching the reed, you should moisten it slightly in your mouth or water.

It is ideal to brush your teeth before each time you play to keep the inside of your clarinet clean. You should never eat anything or chew gum while playing. Left over food particles and sugars can lead to sticking pads and hygiene problems. (Yuck!)

After playing, always remove your reed from your mouthpiece, wipe off any remaining moisture, and store it in a reliable reed case. Always swab the bore of your clarinet after each use. Swabbing the mouthpiece should be done minimally to avoid damaging or dulling the delicate edges. Instead, a mouthpiece should be washed with warm, mild soapy water whenever it seems to need it, hopefully no more than once a week. If and when you do swab your mouthpiece, do so independently of the clarinet and gently put the weight of the swab through without it coming in contact with the very tip of the mouthpiece where it is most fragile. Pull the rest through gently avoiding the tip.

Never leave your clarinet standing on its bell without a clarinet stand and never leave your clarinet balanced precariously anywhere like on a music stand. Do not use your clarinet as a baton or anything other than a clarinet. Accidents to instruments lead to bent keys or worse and will prevent you from playing easily or at all.

If you have a wooden instrument you should have some sort of humidifier in your case during dry winter months. I use a 35 mm film canister with holes punched in it and a wet piece of sponge inside. Make sure the sponge is always moist so it does not absorb moisture instead of replacing it. Never leave a wooden clarinet anywhere where it will be exposed to extreme temperatures and do not play the instrument outside in the direct sun or rain. If you participate in a marching band, I highly recommend using a plastic clarinet even if it means renting one for a few months a year. All of these precautions are to prevent the bore from cracking, which can either ruin an instrument or lead to costly repairs.

Once every year or two, depending on the quantity of playing you do, your clarinet should be serviced by a professional repair person to check that all the pads seal well against the tone holes, to make sure all keys are properly aligned, and to replace any pads and corks if needed.


If you would like to inquire about receiving clarinet lessons please email Nadeen at or call 646.404.3369.