Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for the ‘The Clarinet Shop’ Category

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

In Accounting, Art, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Current Events, Customer Service, Emotional Intelligence, Employees, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Artist Contest Contestants, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Interesting Articles, Leadership, Legal, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, The Clarinet Shop, The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on December 23, 2008 at 3:04 am

f91ddde14399af3663324567dfa4My wish for you, ON CHRISTMAS DAY,
will be for you TOO, to keep the GRINCH at bay!

But if by chance, you simply cannot,
Band mighty together, as a great big Who-Ville lot!

WWHHYY????? Smarty-Arty, I hear you say?

BECAUSE, with all your JOY stirring together,
the grinch who came to visit, just might feel a WEE bit better.

Merry Christmas, my dears, what’s your ETA,
to ENTREPRENEUR The Arts, in a new innovative way.
PLEASE COME WITH ME, lets ride far, far and away!

signed your friend, an artistic missionIST, a student of Dr. Suess-a-visionIST, gliding, and sent with love.

A Grand Tradition Comes to an End

In Current Events, The Clarinet Shop on December 22, 2008 at 2:59 am



Last week on Thursday and Friday I set up shop at the Midwest Band & Orchestra Conference, at the Chicago Hilton and Towers in downtown Chicago.

Having exhibited at the conference for over 20 years, in the basement, I decided to opt for a quite room upstairs in the hotel for clients to come and chat, have a cup of coffee, a cookie and get away from the noise and, of course, try some clarinets if they desired.

Never did I imagine that for the price of catering- I spent a total of roughly $800.00- that I would be treated to the end of a grand tradition in the Grand Traditions Room at the Hilton. The room was free if I catered and as you can see from the pictures, this opulent room was filled with hotel grand memorablia including many photographs of presidents and political dignitaries.

Not only was this a special two days because of my surroundings, but in 2009 The Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic will be moving to McCormick West, after 35 years at the Chicago Hilton.


This years Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic, an important conference every year to attend in the music world, marks the end of a grand tradition of meeting friends and clients at the Chicago Hilton Hotel and enjoying meals and drinks together year after year.

I really enjoyed this year’s conference and especially after having spent a lot more money to be downstairs on the noisy trade show floor, truly appreciated having this wonderful space as my showroom. While I understand the conference has completely outgrown this facility, the warmth and personal touches of the Hilton will be long lost on the big convention center at McCormick. Artistry needs the human touch, and while I am certain this conference will continue to thrive, we all need to remember that without it, we can easily look like just another commodity for sale.

From Clarinet to Coffee- What a Conundrum?

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Music, The Clarinet Shop, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on May 3, 2008 at 2:09 am

Marianne Breneman is a clarinetist I know through Lisa’s Clarinet Shop. She is also someone who sets a wonderful example of being entrepreneurial. You see entrepreneurship is not necessarily about owning a small business, even though Marianne and her husband, Brian, do together own Koka Coffeehouse in Cincinnati, OH. But instead, I see entrepreneurial artists as those who take responsibility for their destiny and create the opportunities in life they need most to thrive.

How does Marianne do this?

#1 By having a great education to allow her to the flexibility to choose who she teaches and where she teaches.

As a native of the Detroit area, Marianne holds degrees from Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). With a strong educational foundation it is no wonder she has a very full active teaching studio, as well as serving on the faculty at The College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, OH. With her credentials, Marianne can afford to have a policy of accepting students by audition only.

#2 By creating performing opportunities to fill her need to play and by taking it seriously enough to commit time and resources to its development.

While Marianne is the second clarinetist with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, she is also a founding member and the Managing Director of Conundrum, a unique chamber ensemble of Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, and Piano.

Having built a chamber group over a ten year period of time, as one of the founding members, I can tell you that Marianne is a very entrepreneurial musician. Having played with lots of musicians, some who perform in major venues and others who are fine freelance artists, most musicians have not learned how to take a risk and build an organization that will give them the freedom to play where they want and what they want. Most artists will tell you they would love to do this, but the number one reason they don’t is simply because they have not (yet) learned the skills they need to be entrepreneurial, like Marianne.

An excerpt from the Conundrum website:

What is Conundrum?

“…Glad and sad in the same pair of trousers, I left for Reno ,asking the question over and over as the dirt passed; “why do I feel this way?” The answer was in the shape my feet left in the dirt. Not hooves anymore, but size 3 sneakers.

Why am I a tiny pony in sneakers? Why are there no answers, just more questions? Who wants to listen to any sound that comes out of me? And geez, why do I smell like an old rope? Riddles, rhymes and indecent sirens of pain…”

Yes, puzzling but important questions face us every day. Who am I? How is this supposed to work? What part fits where? Are you my mother? A life’s enigma; a heart’s quandary; a spirit’s conundrum.

When searching yields riddles, like children we play.

Soprano, flute, clarinet and piano:
an unconventional combination of voices creating textures of elemental beauty-melody, rhythm, harmony and language. Alternately serene, playful, quirky, or lush.

We play music we like and we do it with conviction. Our audiences seem to be happy and excited after our performances.

Conundrum is:
Mary Elizabeth Southworth-soprano,
Danielle Hundley-flute,
Marianne Breneman-clarinet
Philip Amalong-piano.

#3 By building on personal interests, Marianne and her husband, Brian, are creating life on their own terms.

When you risk with your heart, and use your head to execute those passions, you find that life offers you whatever you need to flourish. Not only do the Breneman’s now have two coffeehouses, the second which opening in June of 2007, but they are using their creativity in life to create financial and creative opportunities that they can enjoy for a long time to come.

An excerpt from the Koka Coffehouse website:

Welcome to Koka Coffeehouse!

You’ve seen us on Eastern Avenue. We’re the warm happy glow on a cold dark morning. The sunny yellow building with cheerful spring flowers.

No recollection?

How about the tacky flashing light-up arrow sign with the witty sayings?

Wit. Great Coffee. Friendly Service. Intelligent Conversation. What else could you ask for?

Koka Coffeehouse. Not Bigger, Just Better!

Santa Clause is Coming to Town

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Music, The Clarinet Shop on December 12, 2007 at 7:36 am

Boy is Santa’s sleigh full of clarinets this year. Between speaking to parents who joyfully share about their budding musician, while standing in the bathroom with the shower running to place their order in secrecy, to parents calling with college age musicians needing to buy an “A” clarinet before college auditions, I, all of a sudden, have found myself working a full time job at the clarinet shop!

What I love about the clarinet shop is all of the interesting wonderful families I speak to. I find the parents of these lucky musicians, who are about to get a new instrument, really interesting. I am encouraged and delighted to meet parents who are really interested in entrepreneurship and who want to know my thoughts on how to help their child create an interesting artistic life that economically makes sense.

What is most encouraging, is that most of them truly believe that their child is creative enough, with a little help, to find a way to survive and thrive. How exciting!

Times ARE changing. I can see the beginning of a real openness in young musicians and their parents to find new ways to flourish inside their creative interests and outside traditional career paths.

Who knows what all these young clarinetists can create?

Maybe one of them can create a way to “beam up” their new clarinet right into their house. These old fashioned boxes and wrapping materials just gotta go- they slow down Santa’s deliveries. But until then, time to get back to packing another sleigh.

Clarinets, Buffet, Performances & Perfection

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Music, The Clarinet Shop on December 16, 2006 at 2:47 pm

This week has been an eventful week. I spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in Jacksonville Florida; the home of Buffet Crampon, the distributor in the United States for the world’s greatest clarinets. Traveling is always a challenge. Planes these days are usually delayed and nothing ever takes the time they print on the travel itinerary to make your destination. This time it was heavy fog in Florida on the way down, resulting in hours of lost time.

Yet, about once a month I go there, right around the time Buffet gets in their shipments from France, to try the instruments they receive and searching for only as close to perfection as I can find; which I buy.

I have built a business on limiting what I sell to only the top 10% of Buffet’s product. I can have a business surprisingly selling only this one product line, because Buffet, quite unusually, has 87% market share in the professional clarinet category. While I have built in my own sales cap, as a result of buying only the top 10% of their product, Buffet’s position in the market and my talents allow for my search toward perfection to be my deliverable in my business; serving me well both emotionally and financially. Its all part of my plan, that fits me like a glove.

On this particular trip I played over 300 instruments and bought 45 beautiful instruments, that each are as different as an intricate piece of jewelry. Each one will be the right fit for someone; each with their unique characteristics that stood out above all the rest.

I know the entire staff of Buffet very well and when I go to visit them one of the perks is that those who speak French, as it is a French company, are always interested in challenging me to improve my French; a language I truly adore. I have studied French since I was four and just love the sound of it. Working alongside a French company is wonderful for me, as French has always been a passionate elusive pursuit, never enough time or the right circumstances to use it continuously and thus never quite reaching fluidity, but none the less a great way to get my fix using the language a little bit.

I have come home to a schedule of Nutcracker performances and that will occupy the week. Tis the season isn’t it! I don’t think I could be any busier at the moment… Yet one of the things I love about the choices I have made with the clarinet is the various uses it has brought me enjoyment from so many different directions while make money on my terms, in ways I love and find interesting and sustaining.

Next week, I will take a number of these instruments I bought, with specific customers in mind, to work on them with my repair tech, Rick Sayre. Together we will put the finishing touches on these instruments to make them sparkle. Without Rick I could not finish my work to reach as close to perfection as possible. The clarinets I buy are largely unfinished and play usually at first, unevenly in pitch, unevenly in resistance and have other problems with the way they sound; all which are mechanical problems. The best instruments just need to be ”tweaked” by someone who knows what to do to eliminate their temporary blemishes; after having been recently made in essentially a mass-produced environment.

With my mastery of the clarinet, a great concept of what is a beautiful clarinet sound and 21 years of experience working with a repair tech, I have developed a lot of skill and have learned all kinds of secret tricks and fixes that make my clarinets play vastly better then anything anywhere else. I did not start out with this ability, but I built it because of my love of the clarinet, my search for perfection around it, and my desire to have others pursue and develop artistically to their highest possible level, which means far more than perfecting one’s art.

Perfection can be a deadly weapon in entrepreneurship if not used as a tool, or if you do not define your scope profitably enough to justify your need to find it and require it often. Fortunately, I have been able, in this business, to do exactly that. I was not able to do that in my other businesses as they grew too quickly and became too large to accomplish that mission; so I had to learn to live with compromise instead of perfection. It was an excellent lesson for me and without it my search for perfection now would be far less able to compromise; as in any venture is needed to be profitable and to grow where your customers want you to go.