Finding Friends Far from Home: A Journey with Clara Net
Street Date: August 30, 2019

Tour Dates in NYC, Santa Monica, Washington DC, Baltimore, Palo Alto, Austria and France, plus more to be announced soon!

“Ebullient” – New York Times

“His method effortlessly conveys sophisticated concepts in a fun, musical way that kids can understand” – LA Daily News

New York, NY, August 1, 2019 – Oran Etkin, an internationally acclaimed jazz clarinetist and composer and founder of the Timbalooloo method of introducing young children to music, will release Finding Friends Far from Home: A Journey with Clara Net on August 30th. Recorded and filmed on location in Zimbabwe, Turkey, Czech Republic and China with veritable masters of each country’s traditional music, Finding Friends Far from Home is an ambitious audio-visual project born out of Etkin’s belief in creating deep musical connections across cultural boundaries.

Voted #1 Rising Star Clarinetist in Downbeat Critics’ Poll, Etkin has the honor of regularly being invited to perform at major festivals and theaters throughout the world. Over the past two years, he has reimagined what touring can mean – taking time off between shows to live with traditional mbira masters in Zimbabwe and building collaborative projects with Roma (Gypsy) musicians in Czech Republic. With this Timbalooloo project he further redefines the creative process by gathering the fruits of these encounters into one album which tells a tale of friendship and understanding through the eyes of the instruments themselves – via the friendly and childlike main character Clara Net (Etkin’s clarinet).

The globe-spanning album will be available on Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify and other music sources as well as physical distribution in North America and Europe. Etkin plans a US and Europe tour to celebrate its release, kicking off with an October 5th concert at Symphony Space in NYC before continuing to California, Washington DC, Baltimore, Paris and more.

Finding Friends Far from Home opens with the voice of a young child, chanting “We Want a Story.” Gradually other voices — some human and some instrumental – harmonize in, and Etkin introduces the story of Clara’s musical journey. Next up is “Chaye Shukariye,” which means “sweet girl” in the language of the Roma people (more commonly referred to as Gypsies). The band on this song has its roots in a project initiated by Mladi Ladi Jazz Festival, which invited Etkin to create a new band with Roma, Czech & Slovak musicians and to help combat the history of discrimination suffered by the Roma in Czech Republic. Together, they performed to an audience of 8,000 fans in the center of Prague and took their music to remote and underserved Czech areas. The energetic song blends vocals by Pavlína Matiová (“Princess Pavlina”) and Etkin with Roma accordion virtuoso Roman Horvath. Clara Net’s happy “voice” riffs and responds to the main melody.

On the other tracks, Clara and Oran engage with traditional artists from Zimbabwe, China, Turkey, Russia and Japan. Clara meets new instrument friends like the mbira, kopuz, balalaika, and shamisen. The instruments take on personalities and evoke a range of feelings, from joy and humor, to weariness and sadness. “What we’re doing here is showing that music is a language. It’s all about expressing emotion. Young children can easily identify with Clara Net as she meets each instrument, and they want to engage with these sounds.”

Etkin has previously released four albums as a leader on the Motema label, including the 2010 family-friendly album Wake Up, Clarinet!. His music has also appeared on several compilations including Putumayo’s Jazz Playground and the GRAMMY Award-winning All About Bullies.

Etkin has long felt a responsibility to pass on the joy of music to the next generation.  In 2005, he founded Timbalooloo, which strives to fundamentally reimagine how children can become fluent in the language of music. In 2010 he began training teaching artists in his method. At the core of Timbalooloo is the concept that instruments come alive as characters and speak through their music so that children conceive of music not as having to execute the correct notes but rather as being empowered to make their instruments speak and communicate. Harvey Keitel, who enrolled his son in the popular NYC Timbalooloo classes for three years, remarked, Our son was talking about Herbie Hancock, Mozart, Samba and African music – and he knew the difference!” In fact, Herbie Hancock recently heard about all the children learning his music through Timbalooloo and invited Etkin’s Timbalooloo band to perform in Paris for UNESCO’s International Jazz Day.  Hancock makes a brief appearance in one of the Timbalooloo TV videos, which UNESCO premiered at schools and venues in its 195 partner countries. Through a creative approach to music education, as well as concert performances, recordings and video content, Timbalooloo endeavors to nurture a generation of children around the world to speak the international language of music with the same fluency as they speak their mother tongue.

Indeed, the Timbalooloo approach to music education represents a paradigm shift. Rather than teaching kids the codified, technical aspects of music and performance, Timbalooloo conveys the idea of music as communication. “Children don’t learn how to conjugate every verb, yet they manage to speak intuitively with perfect grammar. It can be the same with music” says Etkin. “Through pretend play and the sounds of instruments that ‘talk’ with one another, the children experience music in a very spontaneous and intuitive way.  We are trying to get to the core of what music is really about — expression, not just notes on a page.”

A new music video and more details about the fall tour dates in the United States and Europe will be announced soon! Visit or Oran Etkin on Facebook or Instagram for more information and the latest performance news.

Tour Dates:

  • Oct 5 – NYC Symphony Space
  • Oct 6 – Santa Monica, McCabes
  • Oct 12 – Palo Alto, CA Stanford University Dinkelspiel Auditorium
  • Oct 17-20 Jazz And The City Festival – Salzburg Austria
  • Nov 16 – Jammin’ Java Morning Vienna VA (DC Area)
  • Nov 15-16 Keystone Corner Baltimore: “What’s New? Reimagining Benny Goodman”
  • Nov 17 Morning Keystone Korner Timbalooloo show
  • Dec 1 & Dec 8: Paris France Sunset Jazz Club: CD Release Concerts for French version of album coming out on French label InVivo 

For Open Arms Project

Today (Oct. 9) marks the 100th birthday of the great multi-instrumentalist, composer, and educator Yusef Lateef (1920-2013). In honor of the occasion, one of his protégés, multi-reedist Oran Etkin, has released a video called “The Tribute: Karigamombe.” Etkin—playing bass clarinet—made the video on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe as part of his ongoing Open Arms Project, a monthly series of collaborations with musicians around the world. Read the full premiere here.


The clarinetist's collaboration with Brazilian singer Danilo Caymmi is part of a monthly series of videos filmed around the world. Read the full premiere here.


"And next on the itinerary, Oran will take us to Zimbabwe, the Czech Republic, Paris and beyond. One song at a time." Read the full review here.

For Finding Friend's Far Home: A Journey With Clara Net

"Etkin also explains via a press release that the series comes as “an answer to the rigid isolation of hate and fear that has been growing in the political discourse all over the world, in almost every other country I’ve traveled to.” Read the full feature here.

“I’ve always felt a responsibility to teach,” he said. “It’s the best part of being a musician.”
Read the full feature here.

"...this is an ambitious project that also carried an inspiring message of multiculturality and the significance of deep musical connections beyond borders." Check out the Q&A Feature here.

"His latest effort Finding Friends Far from Home: A Journey with Clara Net is geared for the younger set and young at heart. Read the full show preview here.

"Etkin engaged the kids and taught them without them realizing they were being taught, the mark of an excellent educator."  Read the full review here.

"The song will surely be a part of his program at Symphony Space, along with themes from Turkey, Russia, Japan and beyond."  Watch the video premiere of Etkin's "Chaye Shukariye" here.

“A winning multicultural musical adventure, features Etkin and his friend, Clara Net the Clarinet, as they travel around the world, making music with accomplished musicians and learning about traditional instruments.”  Read the full feature here.

“Etkin takes his clarinet around the world and narrates the stops and encounters they make...  Fun stuff for kids of all ages.”  Read the full review here.

The Week in Jazz - Jazz School: Education News. Read full feature here

"Educators, parents, child psychologists and musicians have overwhelming emphasized the importance of exposing children to music at an early age. One musician who’s in the trenches doing the work is reedist Oran Etkin." Read the full review here.