A letter from A student from UMASS

August 24, 2015

Hi Sherman,

My name is Steve and you were my clarinet teacher MANY YEARS AGO at UMASS (1965?) and I played 2nd clarinet with you that year in the UMASS orchestra before I transferred to MIT. I have continued to play the clarinet – and still practice almost every day – and still take lessons (now with Tom Hill in Boston). I have enjoyed your blog for years but have never written. I wish you well

I recall the incident that they decided to take a photo of the UMASS orchestra and you suggested we hold our clarinets with hands reversed. What a lark.You gave a recital at UMASS that (my freshman) year and you played the Schumann fantasy pieces. I had never heard the clarinet played that well before (by leaps and bounds). I was ready to give up, but I am glad I did not. I play much better now (at age 67).

Dear Steve:

Thank you for your kind letter, deeply appreciated. I remember 1965 as it was our first year of marriage, (and we are still adjusting)

I still play with my hands reversed, which is of course, more fun, but am considering no hands at all.

Have been quite ill with varia, a new valve. a few heart attacks, am in a long term care facility, and feel much better.

Thank you again

Keep practicing.

Stay well.



remembering a ghastly past

August 23, 2015


Something similar happened a long time past, when I was a child. This  has a pervasive similarity to one from the past. > As a child I remember well the tortuous path which befell Germany  after the bitter ending of the first wolrd war.

There was a depression, but much worse than our recent depression. The  money was devalued to the extent that a worker could hope for a >barrel filled with money that was virtually worthless.  Soon a new voice was heard. The voice promised a restoration of a decimated country. The voice spoke of complete rebuilding , of changing virtually everything. It was carefully modulated and  rehearsed , and promised glory that once was.

Again Again.Similar, very similar to Making America Great Again.

Fiirst the voice would change the laws, the very Consititution of the the US. then, would come the building of walls around Mexico, and then making our country great again, the entire episode.

The reminder is of Adolf Hitler, who made very similar promises. When  Hitler finally came to full power, he used murder as his first weapon, >torture as his second. But the preference was death

Because of a lackluster senate, poor performance and great bickering,  little has been done,  Hitler ,murdered millions, Trump would isolate America, which is only the beginning,his billious remarks extol only himself.

Look around this lovely continent. change the laws? throw 11 million out?let the good ones back in?



August 19, 2015

imagesThe 140z. bottle of merlot sat on my dresser in plain sight, undisturbed and not even a taste  of it gone. I have never been a drinker, save when I was very young and used to be invited to every gathering of musicians and others. I drank socially and frankly, to get high, or whatever the expression was then. Years ago in Colorado, I had this same single glass o wine prior to going on stage, not realizing we were a mile above sea level.I never repeated the mile high experience, perhaps …half that amount

This is a long term care facility, a euphemism for rest home, or nursing home. There are about 120 of us here, or every conceivable stripe or condition. The first floor is generally for well people, with their senses. I was placed here, on the 2nd floor,  even though I am supposed to have all my marbles, so to speak.After 30 years of playing the clarinet, conducting the orchestra, and teaching every course  within a music curriculum, my heart valve has been replaced, my blood count is low and I am in wheelchair, given to me by my wife. there are a few with these chairs, but they whisk me around quickly and without a fuss. As I was saying the first floor is for those with marbles. Not so, mine the 2nd floor which is inhabitied by the rest. For instance there is constant screaming, 24/7. I call it the endless choir rehearsal. They are both spontaneous and hardly silent, and they sing as loud as can be defined by screaming. There are those who intone in some kind of unknown repititious sound, certainly connected at one time, to a functioning mind,and speaking or intoning with a certain rhythm, sounding like dialect, but totally indiscernible. There ae PSWs (personal service workers).mostly women, who tend to my every need, as well as dressing, as I cannot walk Something to do with low hemoglobin and chronic anemia. at my age, I am delighted and fortunate to be here. I love baseball and my son and  I watch together, whenever the Blue Jays are playing, and, and we discuss baseball via the telephone., .  I have every piece of camber music I have every played, plus the goodies of several good music places and subscribe to manyservices, including movies, and as much baseball as anyone could possibly want. So, back to that bottle of merlot, very good , especially when I was able to make spaghetti with meat sauce, and kept on my dresser because I moved here with it. One day, a nurse same in and told me No wine< not good to be laying out there for anyone, most of whom should not drink wine. The doctor came one week and told the nurse to keep it in her locker, and that I was permitted two glasses a day. That is more  than I have ever consumEd. So, she took the bottle, putting ny name on it and stashed it.She then brought me two glasses of it the next day,. Impossible When my doctor came the next week, he told the nurse to put the bottle back in my room. And there it stood, my name having been written in the label. I believe in wine, it has frequently settled my stomach or my nerves It is a wonderful gift to all who consume it. 

As mentioned,years ago, in a first job in Colorado located a mile above sea level, I had a concert, and consumed my usual glass,I was drunk, playing Von Weber I never repeated, maybe a half glass A few day ago, my wife and I were called to a progress meeting. I told them what I thought, highly complimentary. But, I mentioned the wine, which had been broken the day before by someone putting clothes away. I got a rather turgid lecture about the dangers of wine and that it is strictly forbidden in this facility. AfTer the lecture, one of the ladies told me she had been commissioned to replace the wine. It is in her locker, where it stays. I have a brand new bottle in the bottom drawer of my beareau. If Lisa ever gives me the new wine, I will stash in the same drawer. keep practicing , and stay well. sherman

The raison d’etre of all instruments

August 11, 2015

oalI received a complimentary note, concerning the clarinet. I have written more than a thousand articles on site concerning the clarinet. Its sound, quality about reeds, embouchure, history, its many makes, kigatures, mouthpieces, repertoire. The note made me think in smaller and smaller circles, until reaching the conclusion: What is the actual purpose of the clarinet? The clarinet, indeed all instruments of the orchestra, including the strings emulate the sound of the voice, and all of its particular ranges and emotions. When these many emulations are . Until then, we simply learn to play our particular voices , all blending with one another, we then have unified reasons for being, and  are , but a part, of a perfectly coordinated group. An excellent example of this perfect coordination can be found in Brahms Second Symphony, performed by the late Carlos Kleibor, conducting the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra in 1991 It can be found on youtube. Learning to play the cat in Peter and the Wolf is one thing.Learning to blend in with a full orchestra is quite another. That is our purpose,indeed  our goal And we are never finished. stay well, sherman

Heartwood Long Term Care

August 11, 2015

A tiny lady in her wheelchair, blockd the door to my room. This was the same  person who had invaded my room, taking a few things and leaving me wIth a CD of the the roots of country music. Had she left a message for an old clarinetist? gave her my cup of water. She looked at it, held it in her tiny hand, drank, then smiled and moved out of the way.
Last night, while asleep, I ws awakened by my door opening and the small sillouette of the lady appeared. I said NO, and the shadow backed away. After a wile they came checking, and put her back to bed.

There those who can walk freely though the lovely grounds and there are those who cannot. Their way is blocked by coded elevators. another, a  tall lady, who only mumbles and walks quickly from one coded elevator, presses anything , then walks to the next and repeats this throughout the day.

Geraldine and Grace not sisters, nor are they related all,  couldnt tell them apart initially, their names completely unfamiliar to me, with only one connection, their desire to serve.

They both have children, one, a husband, the other had been engaged , and then for reason still unexplained, nor understood they broke apart, unhappily. She had nothing and went into a complete depressiona, lasting several years. .
. She was left with a bag of clothes for her child, another for herself, and was unceremoniously allowed to kive with her mother. Her son is now only two years old.

Geraldine is older and more interested , worldwise. She has two children , and loves to be very busy working at all times. She has difficultiy from her immune system, frequent migraines, as does my wife, but more troulbling and somewhat continuously.

The two  are part of the many staff people here, who tend to all of the needs, with a kindness that must only come from attendance at the many spontaneous choir rehearsals, which proceed throghout the entire day, interrupted by other
varia of sound effects.

It is August 10


From John McKinney, Leblanc and Selmer

August 8, 2015

ear Mr. Friedland, Hope You are well!

Just wanted to say I read your letter on your website. Please have faith there are many people who still remember all you have done for championing beautiful values in music and clarinet playing.

Today there are so many famous players who believe only in super hard reeds and jaw pressure. I direct my private students to the Clarinet Central website, so they can hear recordings of Gustave Langenus, Louis Cahusac, Reginald Kell, and many others. It then becomes obvious what Benny Goodman was doing with his classical performances and tone concept. Two of my teachers were Ronald Phillips and Eugene Zoro; so this has meaning for me.

These great players all had round mellow sounds that were sweet and clear. The beautiful universal quality of their playing could be appreciated by anyone. I include your recordings in this great company.

Please forgive this question if it is out of line. Is it possible for your family to get you a lap top and headphones so you can enjoy classical performances on YouTube?

Thank You For All You Have Done!

John McKimmey
Leblanc Artist with Conn Selmer

Plays Leblanc Clarinets and Selmer Saxophones Exclusively.

Dear JohnMcKinney

Many thnaks for your kind letter.There is a rather lovely,view surrounding this lovely place, WIth huge evergreeon spruce and flowers, and , strangely, none of the charmng little critters that come in the early light. I have a macmini, which provides me with excellent sound and I prefer small speakers, which provide me with a natural sound, which me of the wonders available  through You tube, and a real favorIte, Medici TV from which you can hear and see allof the many festival s, from throughout the world,and their current offerings..

I am aware of threat players and there  aremany,but find myself much more intnter

sted in their abilities to differentiate in their ability to add a unique interpretative quality.

The quallity of sound is quite similar, however the ability to make a phrase sing and rise above the sound of the other comes to only few of us.

thank you, and best wishes.

sherman friedland

From Heartwood Long Term Care/ Joan and Beverly

August 6, 2015

We sit at the same table, mostly.

Joan sits at my left. She has very lovely knowing eyes.Someone combs her hair most mornings, and, every once in a while she looks at me knowingly with large, remembering, knowing eyes. But she says little; no sentences,just makes her choice easily known and understood by her servers.. The rest of her face are unkindly appearing to be very much younger than all else.. She walks well with her wallker, though needs assistance to sit at the table. Sitting, she looks virtually collapsed, very small, shriveled, though with her occasional glance, there is a kind of communication, which is assuring..
When finished she, helped to her feet, walks quickly back down the hallway, her movements much younge appearing than sitting, Once in a while, I see her helping Ransom into his room nest to hers, actually pushing him in his wheelchair. He is intelligent,seemingly have losthis ability to talk , or even move at all.

Beverly sits to my right, and she is a new resident. She appears perfectly well, and seems to move by herself, though must be accompanied from her room and back.she looks well, her eyes appear bright. and she can speak, or seems to to speak.
She says she has no cholesteral, doesnt have anything wrong about her heart, and needs no pills for blood pressure.

When she speaks, she wants to know what utencil to use, frequently drops them, and knows nothing about their function, but she eats quickly , finsihing every drop, then asks for a towel, but she means a Tissue, for her nose leaks and drips constantly after finishing eat ing her food. She then begins to call various severs, whom she recognizes, but, in a very small voice, over and over , and asks why there is no response. She asks if she has had dessert, and keeps on asking until she is noticed.

Tonight, a server came to her and told her that she used used to live downstairs from and the server reminiisced about her childhood with Beverly, perhaps 20 years ago , or more. There was a brightening of her face, saying sometimes, yes, I remember that. The server was kind and smiling. It was touching to see, and helped me to understand her condition.

And, I suppose, to understand mine..

shermen friedland


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 103 other followers