Exploding, Freezing, California Reeds

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


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