91 – Catina Franklin Sweedy: Teaching Younger Students

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Today on the podcast we discuss teaching pre-college clarinet students, running a successful and sustainable private studio, and Catina’s YouTube channel called “The Clarinet Project” and more.

Show Notes: 

[2:18] – Catina discusses her background as a clarinetist

  • Started taking lessons to beat the first chair clarinetist
  • Attended a summer music, heard the Philadelphia Orchestra and was hooked
  • Studied at what is now Lynn Conservatory and Manhattan School of Music
  • Primary Teachers: Paul Green, David Krakauer, Yehuda Gilad
  • After establishing a playing career in Miami, Catina moved to Virginia and began pursuing teaching

[4:16] – Teaching Younger Students

  • So much of the literature on teaching is aimed at older students
  • Adapting pedagogically and psychologically for younger students
  • Using Suzuki’s techniques in lessons for very young students
  • “Nurtured with love and every child can.” – Suzuki’s philosophies
  • Catina strives to help every student meet their potential
  • Awakening Our Inner Design, Art of Mentoring, and Coyote Guiding – workshops based on indigenous teaching methods
  • Every person as an individual needs to be treated with respect and wants to learn
  • Catina shifts her teaching based on every individual student
  • Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences


[9:06] – Why is there a lack of pedagogy for younger students learning band instruments? 

  • Catina discusses her thoughts on why piano and violin studios have been so successful at teaching beginners
  • Discussion on starting young students on Eb clarinet
  • Learning musical concepts through the music of now (ie. Star Wars, Harry Potter)
  • The dumbing down of music for students
  • Staff paper tape


[14:57] – How do we get students from learning their first few notes to being inspired and wanting to learn other music in the repertoire? 

  • “They have to want it, I can’t make them.”
  • Catina believes that the gateway to developing inspiration is through listening
  • Attending concerts, YouTube, Martin Frost, Four Play Clarinet, Michael Lowenstern
  • Catina discusses the newsletter that she sends to her studio
  • Repertoire written for clarinet is a gift, let students learn it
  • “We are the philosophers of time and sound. That’s what we are the artist of and it’s always living and it’s always changing.”
  • Give students the tools to play the repertoire: Kroepsch, Baermann, Warmups, etc.


[20:40] – The Clarinet Studio as a Small Business

  • Getting Paid
  • Know the value of your time and your expertise
  • Set boundaries and stick to your guns
  • Late Fees


[28:46] – Lack of small business skills being taught at music schools

  • Music schools are adapting, but a lot of small business skills have been left up to trial and error
  • Liability Insurance


[32:30] – The Clarinet Project 

  • Started as playlists of music and turned into clarinet tutorials
  • Fear of internet trolls
  • “Is it okay for your clarinet teacher to yell at you?”
  • Mostly educational, but also includes reviews, interviews, clarinet choir


[38:15] – “I didn’t think my career would take a turn like this…”

  • Being an advocate for young people through music
  • Finding your own success


Lightning Round

If I were to walk over to your music stand right now, what would I find on it?

  • Immer Kleiner (Always smaller) by A.Schreiner

If you could play any other instrument what would it be and why?

  • Guitar. I want to play some folk music.

If you could go back in time and meet any musician who would it be and why?

  • Clara Schumann. She ran that music business. She performed concerts when she was really young. After she got married her father stopped being her manager so she became her own manager. People loved her!

While we are back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?

  • I would tell myself to invest in Amazon. For clarinet advice, I would say go be yourself. Try new things and be brave.

What is the best advice you ever received and who gave it to you?

  • David Krakauer talked about how he got the gig to record Dreams & Prayers. His advice was to be kind, don’t jump to conclusions, listen to other people’s points of view. Work together to create a piece of art.

What is one book you think everyone should read?

How many clarinets do you own?

  • 3 Bb’s, one A, one Eb, one alto, and one bass


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