Copland and Altissima, part 2

December 29, 2004

Mr. Friedland,

Recently, it came time for my jury review to check the progress I made
in my private instruction (the instruction is through my university, so
they like to make sure their money is well spent, and then give grades
accordingly). I performed for them the first half of the Copland
concerto and it came out beautifully (if I do say so myself). Thank
you again for the insights you gave. I found the exercise of extending
the range note-by-note and keeping even tone to be particularly
helpful. This combined with the fingerings my teacher offered and more
consistent breathing points helped me really perform the first
movement, instead of just get through it. Regards.


The above was sent to me after several comments made by me were used ,evidently to good benefit by the student. These are really a pleasure to read. The Copland is indeed a mountain to overcome, however it seems that this person has gone a good distance toward overcoming those mountainous heights.
sincerely, and with good holiday wishes to all……even non-clarinetists,
sherman friedland

Exploding, Freezing, California Reeds

December 26, 2004

Hi there, Mr. Friedland. Merry Christmas!

I am not sure if this is appropriate, but I am in need of advice. Badly.

My name is Sanya, and I am an aspiring clarinetist in the 11th grade.
I have been playing for around 5 or 6 years, so I like to believe that
I am at the intermediate level. I have a couple of questions for you,
if you don’t mind. My music exam this semester is a solo recital — I have to play a fast piece, and a slow piece. For my slow piece, I am
playing Aria by Eugene Bozza.That sounds fine, because I love playing long tones expressively in that manner. So that should be okay, except for the few kinks I have still to work out. However, my “fast” piece, Scherzino by Joachim Anderson, is sounding like… not my best work.
The staccato notes make up 80% of the piece, and for some reason, they
just aren’t sounding good. I am usually good with fast pieces and
accented notes — I have played Puszta by Jan Van Der Roost quite well but my staccato notes in this piece sound like bullets being shot,
where they should be light and bouncy. The speed is vivace, which in
itself tells me that the notes should be quite… nice-sounding. I m not sure what the problem is — I realize I have to practice pushing from my stomach to get a clear sound out, but are there any other tips you can give me to get me to sound better?
Also, recently my mother bought me a box of reeds. I usually play Rico reeds, but I think, accidentally, she bought me Rico Royal. I realize these reeds are for more advancing players, and I didn’t want to ask her to return them, for I’d already opened the box. These reeds are harder, and I had to soak them in water for a while before it sounded semi-decent. Is there any way I can adjust my embouchure, or something, so I can get used to these new reeds? They are wonderful, I know, but they require so much more breaking in. And, do you know anything about freezing reeds?

Please get back to me.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Hi and thank you for you letter:

Without much of my own background, let me say that without hearing or seeing
you play, I base what I say upon what you are telling me and 50 years of my
own experience in dealing with my own and student problems.

During the course of my work on and with the clarinet, there is one real
truism I have found and that is for a really serious player, playing serious
and demanding works on the instrument, you cannot use the Rico-LaVoz-
Mitchell Lurie type reed with the possible exception of the latter, which
tends to be a bit more resistant in the heart providing better support of
the upper notes on the clarinet.

But unfortunately, not as good a the French cut or Van Doren reed. These are
much more costly and much more difficult to play and to get a good selection
of playable reeds from a box of ten.

The technic of picking and breaking in reeds is quite a long and
comprehensive study involving, picking them from the box initially, drying
them out and testing them initially, trying them again after time and
trimming and,or cutting, and finally fashioning them into your own personal
reed, a reed that will give you consistant results and last for a time, and
a reeds that can be alternated with others so that you have a selection of
perhaps 6 or 12 that you can depend on for quality execution.

You will have to study with a teacher who has developed this technic and learn it from he or she. It is difficult to get the material from a book because the book does not play for you, the teacher, especially if they are professional, do play and it is from them that you can learn what it is you
need to know about reeds which seem at the moment to privide your biggest problems with execution. However this is true for many many players and if you work seriously and sincerely upon problems they can become your strongest qualities.
There are no “tips” to be given to a young player, but there are
comprehensive studies for you to embark upon, for achieving a mature sound and a controlled execution.
A good technic is not playing fast or slow; a good technic is control over all the elements of your playing.
After you have learned to play and control a good french-type reed,(or a reed that is cut so that it has enough substance to support your attack)and you learn to articulate in a sophisticated manner, you can try these technics on lesser reeds and you will always demand from your playing what you have learned, however without learning what to choose and what to listen for, you are in somewhat of a difficult situation.
From what you say about your playing and your experience, you need to get with a fine teacher who will guide you through the difficulties in mastering articulation.
Most sincerely, and wishing you all the best with your studies and for the
New Year, I am, sincerely,
Sherman Friedland

P.S. forget about freezing reeds, and reed all my articles on reeds and tonguing

mouthpiece impression on teeth

December 20, 2004

I am writing on behalf of a musician friend who has played sax and clarinet
for over 50 years.His upper teeth have been worn down almost to the gum line in the shape of his mouthpiece.
Have you heard of any devices or dental procedures to help with this
Thank you
I think that first it has to be considered a problem. If he has played for that long a time, 50 years, he perhaps feels that it is not a problem. In any event, he is probably not at an age wherein corrective surgery or some kind of prosthesis would help in any way. All of these kinds of changes take a lot of time to become natural feeling and until then, can become more of a problem. On the other hand I have seen many younger players with that same issue who do not seem to consider it a problem at all.

A Good Used Mercedes

December 19, 2004

Dear Mr Friedland,
> I happen to stumble upon your website while doing research for purchasing a
> clarinet upgrade for my soon to be college freshman daughter. Your articles
> have been both entertaining as well as informative and I really have
> appreciated them. My daughter will be attending a college next year with
> the intent of becoming a music teacher (both instrumental and choral).
> Since she needs an upgrade on her clarinet (she has her original resin
> Selmer student clarinet with a Vandoren M-13 mouthpiece) I had talked to
> her future clarinet teacher from the college she will be attending. This
> teacher suggested purchasing a Buffet R-13 (I have read enough of your
> articles to know how you feel on teacher/student relationship so I will
> honor her wishes on the Buffet R-13) , either a new one or one that is not
> real old. This is where my question to you comes from. In searching for
> the best deal for my daughter I have come across many older R-13’s, some
> dating back to the 1950’s. I have read other opinions that the older
> R-13’s are better than any new clarinet due to the better grade of wood,
> craftsmanship etc.
> Since I have come to respect your opinion I am curious to your thoughts on
> the difference, both in sound and in potential age related problems, of
> older wood clarinets and the same model of a newer clarinet. I don’t mind
> paying extra for a new clarinet but is there something to the theory that
> the older ones would sound better and last as long or longer than newer
> ones? If a used one is a good buy, where is the point that an older one is
> no longer a good investment.
> Hope all this makes sense. Any help you can give me is greatly
> appreciated.
> Thanks. JH, soon to be the broke parent of a university music student
> —————————————————————————————–
and thank you for you note and the compliment.
Unfortunately this question is not easy to answer because all clarinets differ; all Buffet clarinets differ.
If you buy new, you may get a good one, an excellent one, however the only person to tell you would be the person who tries the instrument for you and your daughter. Some, though few are not great, probably stuffy or out-of-tune, however that too is difficult to realize.

A true example is: I tried a new Buffet which was on the market cheap. I did not buy because it was stuffy and blew funny. Then I had it checked by an expert who told me the clarinet was leaking everywhere. He repaired it and it was the best clarinet I ever played, or one of the best.

This is how much they can differ and that would be if they are in good adjustment when you buy.

I always advise to buy at 1/3rd of the list OFF. The dealer pays 50% of list unless he gets a deal and they all get deals because the horns especially Buffet are so much more expensive then they were.

Used is exactly analogous to a used car, exactly.
If you ever have purchased a used car or if you are adept you will know exactly of what I speak.

You can get a great used Buffet, just like a great Mercedes or Buick, however you usually have to pay a few dollars to get it straight, which is true of all thing used. Again, it is up to who tries it for you, what their expereince is and how good they hear and play. If you are located in an urban area of considerable size, call up the first clarinet of the orchestra there or the clarinet instructor in the University.

If he is a player, he should be willing enough. After all, it is your daughter and he will be her teacher, so it seems to figure.
You may wish to ask him if he charges for such a service. He may wish to charge. Then again,if he steers you to a certain shop and instrument, he may already be getting a percentage or a “gift” of some kind.

It is hopelessly complicated, I guess. Make sure she takes all the ED classes and gets the degree in education not applied music, because ed will get her a job, the applied degree will get her nothing unless she beats all others at the audtion, for which she needs no degree.

best of all good luck..



“Picking it up”

December 15, 2004

Hi there! i was surfing the web and looking through various websites when
it seemed that i finally happened to stumble on the RIght one! I’ve read
your responses and was utterly amazed at how your approach to things was a
calm, rational response. In my case, i would propose the same idea, but not
psychologically imagine myself or slowing things down so that i’m just
focusing on two notes and etc.

I wonder if you’re a good judge on clarinets.

Lately, i’ve been looking at several clarinets, aka pawn shops, ebay….
mostly ebay =) and the runner ups that i’ve had are……

buffet e11 (overlyhyped and expensive, yet from many responses so far,
people say that buffet is the best) (yeah… and a very high resale value
too) But still 300-500 is a pretty pricy range for a clarinet. Not saying
that it’s out of price range and not hinting that it’s not worth the money.
It’s just that i want to land THE PERFECT instrument. So to speak. I was
section leader for clarinets in highschool my last year of high school, and
played a resonite (vito) clarinet. Which i found to be a very durable
school instrument (no i didn’t drop it or damage it OF any kind.) and found
that it was BETTER than the yamaha cl450 that my other 1st clarinet was
playing. I tested his out too, and found that the music seemed stifled and
not quite strident as my vito did. I used the same mouthpiece (b45)

oops forgot to list other instruments i was looking at.
Noblet 45 a clarinet.
Selmer soloist clarinet

basically the intermediate but not so much “big time players” of the
clarinet industry. Honestly i have no real clue about any of those
instruments because…. well i’ve never tried them! i mean i am a better
than average clarinet player and probably better than other rising clarinet
players that have had some lessons. I’m not trying to sound conceded, just
trying to figure out which clarinet would be best for me.

As a new college student, i want to start out with a clarinet that will blow
people’s minds.

to give you a better idea of my level of music: el camino real, sound the
bells are a few songs that i’ve played and thoroughly enjoyed.

having played or tried or owned every clarinet
manufactured, and played them professionally, perhaps I can make suggestions.
Now, first, a clarinet without a well known name may be good, very good, but
usually is not, and vice versa. Having said that we are reduced to the
common denominator: which are known to be the best?
The best clarinet by reputation is the Selmer soloist, although Yamaha and
Buffet are certainly in there. Leblanc makes an excelent instrument, however
extremely expensive. I played Opus for several years.
Yamahs are by reputation the best in tune, however they in general lack the
necessary resistance.
Buffest, the R13m have the best reputation, deservedly, maybe, maybe not. I
have layed many good and very bad, especially tuning.
Hope this helps.
You are using a good mouthpiece, so stick to it.
With the pieces you mentioned, better learn some repertoire and/or take some
lessons or you will be in for a perhaps a rude awakening in university.
But good luck in any case, sincerely, sherman friedland
no barrels/teacher first. Many years of teaching have shown me that you may
be very talented, although “picking it up” is simply not the same
as knowledge and discipline.
If you are going to buy for investment, be an investment banker, not a
clarinet player. There is no investment in a clarinet, only in studying ,
the Buffet E11 is a fair instrument only. The R13 is the one and you cannot
afford that.
You need a teacher or a model to copy.
Get a recording of whom you wish to copy and do it.
Artie Shaw, perhaps the most talented player, never had a lesson.
Benny had many.
Don’t go shopping for music, only for a sound, believe and trust me.. good

Replacing a clarinet

December 2, 2004

I’m looking to replace a Boosey and Hawkes “Emporer” clarinet which I have been playing for 35 years.

I have tried a number of different clarinets and am finding the same problem with them all – tuning on notes around the break and in the top register. I presume that this problem relates to the way that I play – will it improve as I get used to the clarinet that I finally purchase? – and if so, how long will it take to settle down?

Regarding your note, I think it is more a question of how you played your old clarinet than any new one you are trying. It is a simple matter of 35 years of getting and being used to the Emporer.
Why are you replacing it
And, are you interesting in replacing it or getting a new one,……. different things.
In order to merely replace, just keep trying until; you find one just like the old one.
If buying a new instrument, then why, and for what are you looking?
I do not mean to sound flip. Perhaps the best thing to do is to try them with a tuning machine, something I absolutely despise, but at least you start somewhere, although ease and the all-important resistance are of great importance.
Do you have a method for trying new instruments?
If not, you are in deep trouble, or could be. One reed,? One mouthpiece? Same reed, same mouthpiece?
For how long do you try them?
good luck, sf
Thanks for your comments.

I have found that my Emporer is out of tune – I recently had it repaired and the person who did the repair told me that I would probably continue to have tuning problems. I tried a Leblanc at his premises and discovered how beautiful it sounded! so that got me thinking!

As I have tried different clarinets (Yamaha and Buffet various models), I have always used the mouthpiece that was supplied but used my own reed. I have always had my tuning machine with me to check!

I am currently trying a Hanson T5 which has a vandoren mouthpiece RV5 (?) and I have found that the I need to use the short barrel supplied to be in tune.

I just wondered if I should expect a new clarinet to be perfect straightaway or whether there will be ‘settling in’ period.

I look forward to your comments.
Thank you for your note. I would have to hear the clarinet and play it to tell whether it might be reparable, the tuning. Probably not.
I am not familiar with your mouthpiece, perhaps I know the facing but not the name, however the mouthpiece could and frequently is the problem with intonation problems, and, you saying you need a short barrel makes me want to discard that mouthpiece out of hand.
Never use the mouthpiece supplied when trying a new instrument, rather use a favorite known for its reliability to you.
The mouthpieces that come with new clarinets are almost uniformly bad, really.
there is a very recent article which is published on my site.
The mouthpiece you use is of prime importance, almost more than the clarinet. Please accept that as gospel, with 50 years of playing and trying mouthpieces as experience.
The Yamaha is perhaps the most intune clarinet(high end), but Leblanc is excellent, but more expensive. Selmers provide excellent mouthpieces.
The best VD mouthpiece I have tried is the M113.
best sf