In the current edition of The Clarinet, there is a wonderful interview with Ted Johnson, who was a member of the Cleveland Symphony for 36 years, many of which were under the great conductor George Szell. This is probably my favorite orchestra and my favorite conductor, and these remarks of Ted’s really hit home with me …

“… he was very demanding. You may have heard the statement that ‘the Cleveland Orchestra plays seven concerts a week, but only two of them for the general public.’ This was so true; when it came to the Monday morning rehearsal, you had to be totally prepared.”

My favorite conductors to play for have always been the ones who demanded the most from me. These conductors have always gotten the most out of their band members, and have always had the best sounding groups – and this is part of the joy of playing for me – knowing that I sound good and the entire ensemble sounds good. 

For my students: if you are annoyed with me for demanding hard work and concentration from you, I hope you will always understand that I do these things not to make myself look good, but because I want you to have the same experiences that I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy over the years. 

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