Artistic Articulation: How to Articulate with More Speed and Variety, a Masterclass with Edwin Riley


Dr. Edwin Riley presented an entertaining and interactive masterclass.  He began the class by playing Rose Etude  No. 30 and then discussed basic and advanced concepts of articulation. Dr. Riley discussed the process of the articulation stroke, primary types of articulation, staccato length, finger-tongue coordination, pedagogy of articulation, and common problems. He emphasized the coordination of air pressure and the release of the tongue to create the sound. Dr. Riley provided an informative handout that outlined his discussion of his methods of playing and teaching articulation.

Following Dr. Riley’s discussions he asked three volunteers to perform, all of whom were young players. The first played the cadenza of Copland’s Concerto. Dr. Riley worked with her to achieve consistency in tone while articulating by slowing the tempo and focusing on the release of each tongue stroke while keeping the air support. After just a few moments the student was able to play with much more resonance.

Another young player performed, this time Stamitz’s Concerto No. 3. Dr. Riley addressed a voicing issue, as well as the clarity of the start of articulation. When the student began she had a very muddy articulation and by the end there was marked improvement.

The final student played Rose #24, which is full of quick, articulated passages. Dr. Riley discussed how the etude requires a legato articulation initially, followed by a staccato articulation stopping the sound with the tongue versus stopping the sound with air. When the student was able to continually push the air and stop the sound with the tongue, the improvement was absolutely remarkable! In just five minutes the performer sounded completely different!

Dr. Riley’s master class was wonderful to attend. It was a fun and informative class that was geared toward players of all ages and levels.

–Notes by Dr. Jackie McIlwain
Dr. Jackie McIlwain is the Assistant Professor of Clarinet at the University of Southern Mississippi.  She currently plays with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and Meridian Symphony Orchestra. 


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