Throat Position, high register and Weber

Dear Sherman
>I have enjoyed reading the articles you have written
> on your website–they have helped me in my playing. I
> have been playing the clarinet for about 10 years, but
> did not seem to have established some of the basic
> fundamentals early on (eg embouchure, concept of air
> speed, etc.). I am now trying to correct for these
> shortcomings. My former clarinet teacher helped me
> with the embouchure, but failed to train me on
> airspeed/proper tongue position. I have been playing
> with the “ahh” position of my tongue (which has
> enabled me to play some piano and legatto pieces
> pretty well), but apparently the “ee” position is the
> appropriate position of the tongue for all dynamics
> and registers (in order to sustain a clear and
> consistent tone). But, even when sustaining the “ee’
> position, the high notes (high C and above) still come
> out thin and unstable (often with
> undertones)–sometimes I even squeak! I am preparing
> the Weber Quintette piece and having difficulty with
> the runs.
>I would appreciate any thoughts you have on the
> matter. (i have standard equipment: buffet r 13,
> rovner ligature, vandoren m13 lyre mouthpiece,
> vandoren blue box reeds 3.5)
>Thank you very much,
>
Hello K:
you are certainly correct with the concept of the EE position for the
throat, however there is always the possibility of overdoing it. Example, if
you consciously make a certain motion prior to playing, you may have had it
already second nature and the redoing it may overdo.
My feeling is that the sound should always lead, and you should always be
critical of the sound rather than the method in which you make said sound.
Upper register thin sound and squeak may be overblown or somehow bitten out
of trepidation or worry of some kind.
One of my favorite sounds ever was that of the late Harold Wright, principal
of the Boston Symphony. I was always amazed by the sound quality he made in
the upper register and was (and am) still pleasantly surprised when I hear
the records I have. Why? Because he played very softly in this upper
register, a very great lesson to me because before I learned it from him, I
was always blasting or biting or something up there and it was thin and
sharp and sometimes flat. Do not play loud in the register, it is high and
unpleasant, so make it as pleasant as you are able. Wright taught us all a
lesson there.
The runs in the Weber have to be practised as slowly as they are fast in
performance. The best players practise in slow motion , really slow,
conscious of every finger movement, up and down. Really. Those runs are too
easy, hence play them even more slowly and evenly and always with the most
beautiful sound of which you are capable.
Hope this helps.

>

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