David Hickman and Clarke Technical Studies

David Hickman 

Personally, I do some of the Clarke Technical Studies exercises everyday as part of my warm-up. I change keys each day so that all of them are under my fingers.

When I really worked the book hard in high school, or when I now work on these studies with some of my freshman students, I work them in all sorts of articulations. I like to have them in about 20 patterns, including all single tongued and all multiple tongued.

Even Clarke warns about doing too many of these exercises in one sitting, stating that it is like "a doctor prescribing a few drops of medicine to cure, whereas a spoonful may kill." So, I suggest doing perhaps five lines (each with a different articulation) from a study, repeating each line as many times as possible in one breath.

Clarke wrote them from the low register to the high register, but this is only a convenient way to notate them. In actual practice, I suggest picking five different ones each day like this:

medium low line (with repeats and in a particular articulation pattern)
low line " " " " " " " "
middle range line " " " " "
medium high line " " " " " "
high line " " " " " " "

Each day, select different keys and articulation patterns, but keeping the same overall type of range mix so the chops don't get too locked into one range only. (I think this is what Clarke was recommending.)

After you master the entire Technical Studies book (does anyone REALLY master it???), go back to the beginning and repeat the studies but playing in minor keys and various modes (for jazz skills). There is much more to the book than what is printed!!

Anyway, this is what has helped me the most.

Dave Hickman


o.j. 2000