COMPREHENSIVE CLARINET &
IN PERSON PRIVATE LESSONS AVAILABLE, AS WELL AS SKYPE LESSONS BY APPOINTMENT.
Helping each student find their
own voice and musical identity
Jazz harmony, transcription and jazz improvisation.
Scales, etudes and performance oriented pieces such as Sonatas and Concertos.
Preparation for the next level of advanced musical coursework.
Composition, ear training, recording techniques, ensemble playing and intonation.
Mark Sowlakis is an established, proven Instructor of clarinet and saxophone, with over 35 years experience performing and teaching these instruments. He holds a BM degree in Orchestral Clarinet Performance from San Francisco State University and an MM from the Mannes College of Music in New York City. He has developed a unique jazz improvisation teaching method utilizing original content which includes scale and chord PDF's, transcriptions of many Jazz Masters and excerpts from his books on Jazz Improvisation. In addition to his background in contemporary styles of American music he has experience teaching and playing orchestral and chamber music in a variety of contexts. Students of any age and any skill level are accepted.
For junior high and high school students All State and All County Honor Band recordings are encouraged. Mobile digital recording technology is available via laptop computer, high end microphones and Apple Logic recording software.
Over one hundred of Mark's students have successfully auditioned for Honor Groups over the past three decades, and former students have earned partial or full scholarships to many major colleges and conservatories including the Berklee College of Music, USC, UCLA, and Cal-State Sacramento, among others.
Music is a life long pursuit, and should be fun and gratifying. My goal is to help each student find their own voice, provide them with all the tools to teach themselves at some point in the future, and to help them learn to express themselves by developing their own musical identity.
In addition to my undergraduate work at San Francisco State and my graduate work at the Mannes College of Music on clarinet, I was fortunate to study with saxophonists Joe Henderson and Warne Marsh, two of the most unique improvisers in jazz history. Now, twenty five years later, I can clearly see their influence in my teaching, and I’m grateful not only for their music but for what they stood for, and how they continue to influence my thinking about life and music.
Using a variety of resources I try to meet each student at the intersection of their individual interests and my assessment of their needs. The first lesson is typically an evaluation where I run the student through a variety of diagnostic exercises to determine their skill level, and to gain an understanding of their interests and motivation. From there I devise a specific course of study and work with the student to attain short, intermediate and long term goals.
I spent 6 years at the Community School for Music and Arts in Mountain View, CA in the mid 1990’s teaching privately, and during that time also taught clarinet and saxophone for 5 years at the Stevenson School in Pebble Beach CA. Around 2000 I began teaching at West Valley Music, the first clarinet and saxophone instructor hired there, and I continue teaching there to this day. I also have taught at Aragon High School in San Mateo, West Valley College in Saratoga, and Crystal Springs Uplands School in Hillsborough.
MY EXPERTISE EXTENDS THROUGH ALL THE SAXOPHONES AND CLARINETS,
IN A VARIETY OF STYLES: CLASSICAL MUSIC, JAZZ IMPROVISATION, AND VARIOUS FORMS OF ETHNIC MUSICS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
The first lesson is typically an evaluation where I run the student through a variety of diagnostic exercises to determine their skill level, and to gain an understanding of their interests and motivation. From there I devise a specific course of study and work with the student to attain short, intermediate and long term goals. I have specific general course work for beginning, intermediate and advanced students, and I have a large collection of material available that I have personally catalogued including solo transcriptions and exercises culled from my work with various instructors over the years. I integrate much of this material for each individual student, and I emphasize and demonstrate playing along with recordings, by ear as much as possible, particularly for jazz improvisers.
The First Lesson for someone who already has some experience playing clarinet is typically a diagnostic lesson where I determine each student's strengths and weaknesses. I carefully observe a players habits and determine where they fall into the three levels I define as Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced. I find it best to use a chromatic scale, and I utilize a routine that gradually progresses while adding in various rhythmic and articulation elements. I also provide an Intermediate Scale Routine PDF for Intermediate level players and also start you on some basic etudes. I also have play along examples that I have made of a lot of my teaching material, high quality recordings done in a professional studio. I often have students wear headphones and play along with these on my lap top. I usually prescribe a course of study after the first lesson based on my sense of where each student is at musically at that point.
The same protocol is followed when I teach saxophone. The biggest difference is the use of jazz etudes early on; once students are a ways into their studies with me, approximately a freshman or sophomore in high school, I will get them started listening to jazz with the thought of introducing them to jazz improvisation. On both instruments the goals are a good sound, a developing technical foundation, a solid rhythmic understanding and the ability to perceive rhythm accurately. I also provide an Intermediate Scale Routine PDF for this level of instruction and start these students on some basic and progressive etudes. I also make it clear what I expect in terms of practice time and commitment. The minimum is usually twenty minutes a day four times a week. And no, you can never practice enough……