An Artley and the New Student

Sir, I am a very new student on the clarinet with no previous background in music. I was given an Artley clarinet for my birthday. I was wondering if you may be able to give me any info on this make. It was purchased 2nd hand from a pawnshop and I was wondering if there is anything I should be wary with owning a previously owned model. What should I be looking out for when using a used instrument and what problems may I expect? Also, any names of teachers in the Langley (Vancouver) British Columbia Canada area would you recommend?

Thanks a million, Jason

Hello Jason,

Good luck with your adventure into the clarinet and into music.!!! You have many wonderful things to discover and I am happy that you are a new student. I would choose someone from the Vancouver Symphony. They are all good players. The quality of their individual teaching, I cannot comment upon. However if you really want to learn, you will learn, I am quite sure.

Now, as to your clarinet. Try to give it back, I am serious. Only quite professional clarinetists should buy clarinets from pawn shops. In general, and I have no prejudice against them, pawnshops are centers of misery and unhappiness and their products are frequently inferior.

The Artley company is primarily a manufacturer of inexpensive flutes. An Artley clarinet purchased in a pawnshop, sitting in the window while the sun dries out the pads is not an instrument for a young or new player, nor is it for anyone, save a person who is attempting to fulfill a dream, or perhaps to buy a present inexpensively. Oh yes, it could be a playable instrument, but only that at the best possibility.

Buy or rent an inexpensive clarinet from a large music store. This is your best bet. Buy a good Selmer Mouthpiece (HS*) or a Vandoren (B45, or B44) and a good ligature. Make sure the mouthpiece comes with a mouthpiece cap.

Then call the orchestra and get a teacher. If the teacher is too expensive, call the University Music Department and ask them if they can recommend a serious advanced student who would like a beginning student. If the person on the line sounds intelligent and interested, make an appointment with him or her and tell them you would like a trial lesson for which you will pay. If, after the lesson, you find yourself enthused and interested, then try a month. Pay for the lesson. Do NOT allow the teacher to give a free lesson. It is NOT a good way to start, especially for the teacher.

It may be a better idea to go directly to the University for an instructor. Symphony players are busier and richer than in the past, and you may get a much better product, especially to begin with, from a university music department and an advanced student. Make the person play for you. You have GOT to hear the essence of a good sound. If the person is someone who will not demonstrate, forget it. Get someone who will play for you. All of the sounds and finger touches are tremendously important for a new student and musician.

So, that is it. If you will carefully read this and follow the suggestions, I guarantee you will be a reasonably good player, no question … if you practise consistently … Or maybe the pawnshop can furnish a teacher.

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