How Should I Hold My Throat?

In your comments on “Mouthpieces and Fuzzy Sound”, you indicate that “the throat should be in the shape of the sound ‘eee’,not ‘aaaahhh’.” I am confused: my current clarinet teacher saysI should do “aw” (which seems close to your “aaaahhh”);another clarinet teacher I went to years ago said I should achieve an “oo” sound.Are there differences of opinion? Could you please clarify this for me.Thanks. (I am a very advanced amateur player and have played for many years.)

Thank you for your commentary on the article having to do with “Mouthpieces and Fuzzy Sound”.

The answer has to do with semantics(the study of meaning) of the various teachers you and I mention, combinedwith the variables having to dowith problems encountered by the students. Depending upon what thequality of sound you were making when your teacher made you “doaw”,or “oo”, or “ee” or any of the various meaningsthere are to the perceived problems of embouchure and the throat, theteacherwas attempting to clear the perceived problem so that you would soundas they, or as they wished for you to sound.

Whenwe talk about sound and embouchure we are talking about very personalkinds of choices we have to make in order to achievethe sound we havein our heads or in our ears. During the 60’s and 70’s the talk wasthe quality of sound of the two big clarinet makers for the USmarket: Selmerand Buffet. Selmer had a sound that “spread” Buffet had asound that was “compact”. In terms of sound what did or dothese terms mean? Big? Small? Round?

Nobody can really say because what weare talking about is the furthering of a tradition of sound througha tradition of teaching that varies only slightly. However the perceptionof that variance is one of huge proportions.

Rosario Mazzeo told allhis students that “it will take a year foryou to get used to my terminology”. I love Mazzeo, but that statement was a bit much to take.

What he did mean however, is that we all havedifferent ways of perceiving meaning … semantics. I guess to concludeone ought to say that you must have a concept of sound in your ear.If you do, and if you’ve a good ear, it will be hard to hold you back, regardlessof the terminology with which you are taught.

Oh yes, and one more thing: If you can find a conductorwho likes your concept of sound enough to hire you, well then, allarguments are settled.Thanks for writing. Bon fin de semaine!!


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