Consideration of purchasing a new instrument.

April 1, 2005

I am a father with a fanatical interest in music and with a fairly musically talented daughter aged 13+. She has been playing the piano for 5 years and the Clarinet for just 2 years but already she has reached the same standard in our Australian Music Examination Board (level 4) exams for both instruments.

She is now playing the Clarinet in a number of her High School ensembles and bands and is developing a keen awareness of the Clarinet played in Jazz groups from Dixieland to Big Band. The big decision coming up is to select a new Clarinet for her to explore these musical tastes as well as perform the Classical pieces required for the AMEB exams.

At present she plays a Buffet Bb B11 with a Van Doren B45 mouthpiece. As with many of your other correspondents, advice from school music teachers tends to veer towards another Buffet instrument but I wonder if another make wouldn’t be more appropriate. In fact, is now the right time for her to move up to a new instrument ?

If cost can be in the middle to top of the range, what would you suggest for the best combination of instrument & mouthpiece ?

Many thanks –

Congratulations on your daughters achievements with two instruments, clarinet and piano. At age 13 and a half however I would think twice before any new clarinet purchase and especially a new mouthpiece. The B45 is a very reliable mouthpiece and if she is happy with it, let her keep it. A mouthpiece is best left alone unless it is incorrect or warped or in some way pitch distorting.
The clarinet upon which she is now playing is just fine for the next several years or months, as long as it too is not in some way distorting her playing and progress and that instrument is certainly sufficient for a student of her age.
There is a very natural tendency or even zeal to help a talented child, however that kind of help is perhaps saved for moving on to another level of education or musicality.
I would think an R13 or a Prstige or one of those in any other make would be excessive both in cost and imposition of responsibility for which she may not be that eager at her age.
Best of continuing success to you both.
sincerely, sf