I consider myself a "born-again" user of Clarke Technical studies. This happened when I began studying with Vincent Cichowicz this past fall. V.C. has always been big on Clarkes, and uses them for tone production rather than technical (finger) development, which is a by-product from doing the studies correctly.
I had gotten away from Clarkes and had been doing Vizzutti technical studies instead - also good, but there's in there nothing like the Clarke 4th study.
Cichowicz stresses that too many players approach Clarke the wrong way
- playing them too fast and too loudly. He advises striving for a
good, beautiful, and "focused" sound (mf) that is not forced or "gunned"
out. Once a good controlled mf is happening, then the player should strive
for softer dynamics, with the same good sound. Any throat restriction
throat noise is a no no - really watch out for this on the initial attacks, which screws up the sound production. Being tedious and demanding on yourself can really play off - this could be the difference between a good/OK sound and a beautiful sound with color/brilliance.
Working for the same sound in all registers is the key.
I've found that the 4th study is especially good for getting my aperture working efficiently. The goal should be to get through each individual exercise once (no repeat) with one breath. This is a real test to see if the player has control of his/her aperture, or if he/she relies on the brute force of the air to gets the lips to vibrate. If you start any of these too loudly, you are sunk, since most of us will run out of air. Take a huge breath, enter as softly as possible with a good sound and then follow the crescendo.
We always start off our weekly lesson with a couple Clarke Studies. Cichowicz believes that they are one of the quickest way to test if everything is working properly for the player.
Once all of the printed studies can be played easily, it is beneficial
to take them up higher for range expansion, still going for the same sound
without forcing. Try starting in the middle (G major in the staff)
and expand range in both directions.
Putting serious thought into these studies and not going on "auto-pilot," which we all tend to do as trumpet players, will guarantee improvement.
Doing these studies daily has helped my playing tremendously.
Performance Certificate Candidate