90 – Richie Hawley: Pure Musical Enjoyment

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Learn what it was like playing in the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, what it’s like teaching and working with students at Rice University, and how Richie Hawley ended up sitting in front of none other than Michael Jackson (yes, the pop star) at a concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Be sure to check out Richie’s website at www.richiehawley.com


Show Notes:

“The most overwhelming part of starting with the Cincinnati Symphony was having to learn so much music week after week and having to have reeds that worked for all of these big pieces.” 
  • Richie Hawley discusses the transition between being a student and winning his first orchestral jobs out of school.
  • Donald Montanaro, Hawley’s teacher The Curtis Institute, was influential on developing his reed management system as a student.
  • Currently, Hawley uses a combination of D’Addario products, including their humidifier packs and reed cases, all of which are enclosed in a Tupperware.
  • Consistency is the key with reeds!
Online Presence
  • Hawley discusses the importance of orchestral musicians showcasing what the orchestra in order to impact their communities.
  • Developing an online presence through YouTube or a website can be a great tool to become a successful musician.
“Having an audience that appreciates what is going on on stage is all we can ask ever ask for what we do in an orchestra.”
  • Sean and Hawley discuss audience attendance for pops concerts and traditional symphony orchestra concerts.
“He was a beacon of music making.”
  • Hawley shares his experiences studying with Donald Montanaro at the Curtis Institute and his beginning his clarinet study with Yehuda Gilad at 9 years old.
Pure Musical Enjoyment
  • Sean and Hawley touch on what it’s like to play with a child-like mindset, having pure enjoyment and being free of criticism during a performance.
  • This idea is discussed further in The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green, which was featured in last month’s Clarineat Book Club.
  • “That’s why I’m motivated to practice so that I can I have these moments where we are free of the technicalities and your body just takes over and your mind and spirit can be present in the moment.”

Hawley discusses winning a Presidential Scholar Award in 1988 at the Whitehouse through the National Foundation for the Advancement of Arts during their annual Arts Week Competition.

“I’m not a better musician than my students, I just have more experience.” 

  • As a teacher, Hawley focuses on mentoring his students to help them reach their goals.
  • At Rice University, students and teachers frequently collaborate on chamber music, which Hawley attributes his students’ success.
Unlocking Hawley’s “Secret” to Clarinet Tone
  • Hawley attributes his unmatched tone to the foundation his teachers provided during clarinet lessons.
  • Gilad focused on singing through the clarinet while using a lot of air, while Montenaro stressed developing seamless legato through basic intervals and scales.
Does the gear make the player or does the player make the gear?
  • Having the right reed is essential, but air support is an integral part of clarinet playing.

Hawley teases the innovative new mouthpiece he is working on with D’addario Woodwinds. Stay tuned for more information from D’Addario!

Lightning Round Questions:

What is something that you do every day that contributes most to your success?
  • I check my reeds and get rid of the ones that are old and crappy
What is your all-time favorite clarinet accessory? 
  • Mark Jacobi Custom No. 7 Barrel
If you could redo any aspect of your career, what would it be and why? 
  • I would reattend Pacific Music Festival because my perspective has shifted since I first attended.
What is one thing that you know now that you wish you knew when you were 21? 
  • How much fun it is to practice!
What piece of music or album changed your life irreversibly?
  • Hearing Tchaikovsky 6 when I was 15 played by the New York Philharmonic in Royce Hall with Leonard Bernstein conducting sitting in front of  Michael Jackson.
What is your first musical memory? 
  • Sitting with the pianists at my mom’s dance studio listening to Chopin and Bach over and over again.
What is one book you think everyone should read?

Connect with Richie Hawley:

Instagram – @richiehawley
YouTube – Richie Hawley

Clarineat Podcast Production Team:

Theme Music:

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  • Josh Ng
  • Karen Doty
  • Patty Selenski

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