Martín focuses on the basics

International clarinet soloist Maximiliano Martín helps 1st-year student Ahn Ho-jung with Saint-Saëns's Sonata, Op. 167. (Photo: Charles Ian Chun)

Maximiliano Martín helps 1st-year student Ahn Ho-jung with Saint-Saëns’s Sonata, Op. 167.
(Photo: Charles Ian Chun)

Last Friday Maximiliano Martín, principal clarinet for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, returned to Kangnam University’s German School of Music Weimar for a series of masterclasses with students of Professor Matthias Luft.

Martín’s goals for the students are simple. “I try to concentrate on the basics first,” he explains. Working with one student at a time, Martín finds himself coming back to the same point each lesson.

“What’s the most important thing when playing the clarinet?” he asks.

The students are stumped.

“Air,” he answers for them.

And getting air when you need it is surprisingly difficult. “When you think about trying to do it right,” adds Luft, “you will lose it.

“Air, at the end of the day, is going to be at the service of the phrase,” Martín continues. “Without air, it’s impossible to phrase. And what makes you special as a player is your tone and the way you phrase.” To become that special player requires lot of hard work.

Martín warns against practicing too much, however. “Yes, practice,” he says, “but be efficient so that you have time for other things. Everything has to be balanced.”

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