Throat Leak

May 30, 2004

I am happy to have wandered onto this portion of the “sneezy” site this evening, as I think perhaps in all your experience you may have encountered someone else with a dilemma similar to mine.

I am a masters student in clarinet performance, and I have an endurance problem involving my throat/air production. When I play something particularly long or that demands a lot of control (the beginning of the Copland Concerto, for instance), it feels as if my throat is closing off, and it makes a scratching noise. It feels as if the air is determined to go everywhere but into the clarinet. Sometimes it causes my ears to pop, and it always renders finishing a performance scary, if not impossible.

I have received a little advice from random sources (none of my own teachers have experienced this problem themselves, or with other students). Some of what I have gleaned on my own follows:

move sound production farther forward to avoid undue pressure to the soft palate, which will leak air

simply support the breath better/lower

place the toungue farther forward in the mouth.

If you think that any of these have hit the mark, or you have other suggestions or referrals, please let me know. It is difficult to be just beginning a career as a clarinetist when I know that there is potential disaster in every performance.

Thank you in advance for responding 🙂

-“frustrated”

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Jaw Movement

May 30, 2004

Mr. Friedland:

I need some help. I have a terrible time keeping my jaw still, particularly when I go from the clarion to the chalumeau register. I have had this habit for a long time and I certainly need to break it. I have been playing for about 9 years, and I am currently in college studying at Drake University in Des Moines, IA. My setup is a Buffet R-13 with silver plated keys, Mitchell Lurie mouthpiece with a Rovner Light ligature, and on Vandoren V-12 reeds strength 3 1/2. My professor at Drake, Clarence Padilla, suggested that I play with a pocket mirror. I have been currently doing that for about a semester but nothing really has changed. I am trying to find out if there are any other techniques to use or any exercises that will help with this problem.

Thank you for your time.

– Chris Huls

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Embouchure Paralysis

May 30, 2004

I have a rather unique problem. After 40 years of playing the clarinet, I woke up one day (3 months ago) and had lost my embouchure. Control is very difficult and the instrument feels like a foreign object. I can’t even sustain an open G. I went to a neurologist, who suggested that I had strained the muscles and R&R is needed but I’m doubtful. I am completely baffled by this since I have never experienced anything like this. Do you have any thoughts or referrals? I would like to get someone on the phone and go into greater detail

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Tendonitis

May 30, 2004

Dear Mr. Friedland,

I just read you response to a question about right wrist pain on Mark Charette’s Woodwind clarinet page. I’m a junior in high school with hopes of a career in music. I love playing the clarinet! However, I was recently diagnosed with tendonitis in my right wrist. It got pretty bad, and I was forced to rest in a cast for 7 weeks. (However, you can maintain embouchure by just playing on the mouthpiece, and memorizing pieces can still be accomplished by looking at your music carefully while listening to recordings. :O) Anyway, the cast has come off, and I am enjoying playing again. But the pain is back. I have a neck strap that I am using faithfully. I am doing shorter more frequent practice sessions rather than “marathon” sessions, as my teacher calls them. :o) But as a full time high school student with a part time job, time is limited. Do you have any suggestions? I would appreciate any help I can get.

Thank you so much!

Becky

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False Tooth

May 30, 2004

I saw your article concerning double lip embouchure and wondered whether it could help me, or whether you could offer me alternative advice. 

I have been playing clarinet as an amateur since I was 9. Iplay in a local concert band. ” years ago I lost my front tooth and thought that I wouldn’t be able to play with a false tooth and that my playing days were over. I found an implant specialist who said that a tooth implant would enable me to continue playing. I’ve had the implant done twice now and it seems I have an allergic reaction to it. The specialist has put a temporary tooth in and wants to have one more try in 12 months time after my mouth has had chance to heal from all the surgery.

It is now 2 years since I’ve played. I read somewhere about a double embouchure once but couldn’t find the article when I looked again. I then found your very interesting article on the internet. Do you think that if I tried this method of playing, it would relieve the pressure on the top teeth so that I could play with a tempoary /false tooth? There is alot of pressure there, particularly when playing high notes. Also, would I be any better off with an Eflat clarinet? I’ve never played one but wondered whether less pressure would be needed.

I really hope that you’ll get back to me with any information you have. I’ve asked a couple of experts but so far have no replies.

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Aches and Pains

May 30, 2004

Dear Sherman, I was wondering whether you could help me. I have been experiencing problems in the last year with pains in my wrists, arms and shoulders. It is particularly bad after orchestra rehearsals – I play in a youth orchestra which meets in the holidays, and we rehearse for 6/7 hours a day, for about 9 days, and then do a concert. But it is affecting me more now in my normal practising; I have music college auditions in a month’s time, and so am practising a lot. Is it something to do with my posture? I also play violin and piano, could this affect it at all? Would you recommend learning something like the Alexander Technique – I’ve heard about it, but don’t really know enough about the benefits to make an informed decision. (I’m 17 years old, and have been playing the clarinet for 4 years). Thank you in advance for your time.

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Wrist Pain

May 30, 2004

I have been playing clarinet for seven years now. Whenever I play for a period longer than about 5 minutes I get very sharp pains running through my right wrist. I’ve tried holding my clarinet differently but it doesn’t help. My clarinet teacher gave me a clarinet neck strap to take off some of the pressure but that only works for about 15 to 20 minutes of play. What can I do?

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