Is there more Prestige in a Concerto II? Not likely

September 28, 2005


I was thinking of getting a Leblanc Concerto II clarinet next month. Do you have any take on my decision. I was using a school’s Prestige before I decided to buy my own.

Concerning your thoughts of changing from a Prestige to a Concerto II, that is sort of like changing one orange for another. The two are both fine instruments, but the Concerto II will not make you sound like Eddie Daniels no more than the Prestige will not make you sound like Harold Wright.Ask your private instructor if they are a clarinetist, if not shop by price, and get something soon, for we are approaching what I call crack season. I prefer purchasing instruments in the spring. Avoiding severe temperature change will give your wooden instrument a better chance. I see many students, all of whose barrels are practically glued to the first joint, a sign to me of some kind of lack of care somewhere along the line. A new instrument is worse than a new car, you must break it in….properly.
best wishes, sherman


“The Pines of Rome” clarinet solo on Bb clarinet?

September 25, 2005

Mr Friedland,
Thank you for you wonderful site. I am a retread clarinet player, having just picked it up again after over 40 years. (a very interesting experience.) I have my old Leblanc symphony which is a full Boehm model. I have always like how it played, but the years have taken a toll and it required new pads and cork, which I replaced. It is also out a adjustment and I find it is very difficult to get adjusted. I recently ran across a clarinet player who has a Leblanc symphony that is not a full Boehm that he is interested in trading. I am tempted because of the ongoing issues
with mine, but am concerned about the relative value. He also has an R13 he is looking to sell and that is another possibility although I am reluctant to spend that kind of money. He has indicated that I can try both instruments. Any advise you can give would be appreciated.
Dear Mr D:
I full well understand the dilemma you are experiencing for there is nothing
like a Full Boehm which is out of adjustment. The facts are that there are not many repairpersons out there who can tweak them in exactly the right way, and even more even get the articulating arrangement to work correctly.
Usually these are inevitably permanently slightly out of wack, as are some of our acquaintences, and so develops the old “be careful of clarinets with
extra keys”When I played these clarinets which were full boehm Mazzeo
System clarinets, I do not think I ever had a mishap. Of course, one
develops a fair technic at these problems and I was always in a large city and I had some great repairpeople working for me.
So, that seems to be the story.My advice would be to trade for the Leblanc Symphonie, which has or had a great reputation.
Because he is getting so much more, perhaps it can be an even trade.
However the market is low now for the clarinets with articulated keys and nobody uses the low Bb-Eb because they don’t transpose.
I do not know if you are acquainted with symphonic repertoire, but one time we were playing The Pines of Rome by Respighi. It has a long lovely clarinet
solo for A clarinet and I played it on the Bb because I had the Mazzeo System and everything was in 5 or six flats and that is easy on those clarinets. It really worked well, but I doubt if it has ever been done before, or after, because the Mazzeo System is currently not in vogue. But I still remember the security of those keys.
To make a too long story short, trade for the Symphonie. The R13 will cost you because people put value on those even if they are flat in the high and sharp in the throat.
Good luck, and thanks for reading the site.
as ever, sherman

Newly discovering of the upper register

September 13, 2005

I have a pupil who STRUGGLES to get high notes cleanly and immediately and easily!There always seems to be a hiss first or a blocked sounding reed ……. And a real effort to get it!I often get her to come back to a lower register note (usually open G) and then back to her “struggling note.” It helps as an exercise, but not always once she is playing her piece again!So frustrating and discouraging for both of us.Would appreciate your wisdom!
Many thanks,
Hi Julie:
Yes, have heard this problem prior to today and have dealt with it in different ways:
First, have your student put the horn in her mouth and make her embouchure.
In the meantime, you have turned the clarinet around so that you can hold it and use your fingers.
Instruct her to move nothing, just to blow and let her play open g.
Then you finger low c and let her play low c. Tell her to keep blowing with the same intensity that she was using for the c.
Then you simply open the register key and the higher g will come out.
She has not been expecting it and therefore will not pinch or bite. She will have played the g with your help/ stop and explain that she has developed a real terror of the upper register, and that it really doesn’t take any strange contortion to achieve it.
Repeat the same example. Make sure she does nothing different with her mouth or breath. Try diffeent examples still letting her use her air and you the fingers.
The point is to prove to her that she does have it and that had been really worrying everything to failure by contorting her mouth.
That should be it.

What comes out may be flat or without great sound, but point will have been proved.

Of course, if she is using a tissue-thin reed…..well, it should work even with a soft reed. There are many fine players who use very soft reeds and play all there is to play.

let me know how it goes. I have other solutions.
good luck, sf

Repairing a Buescher Mazzeo Clarinet

September 12, 2005

Dear Sherman,
I am in the process of repairing a Buescher Mazzeo Clarinet.
I know that the mechanism is there to improve the mid Bb but I understand that there are alternate fingerings that can be used. In my trawl through the web, you seem to be the only one I can find with any knowledge of these.
Are you able to help or point me to a site that could help please.
Thank you for your time

The basic Mazzeo fingering is for Bb, the so-called throat Bb.
Any combination of fingers of the left or right hand open the a spatule and the third trill key which produces the Bb.
Naturally then, all one need do is to finger the note following the Bb and the a spatule and the third trill key will open giving you the Bb, the best one possible on the clarinet. There are 309 different ways of playing this Bb.
The only drawback is that one may not leave any fingers down because it will produce the a and nothing else.
Unfortunately most clarinetists leave fingers down because of facility or because they wish to temper certain notes. I hope this helps.

good luck, s

A new discovery and recovery. Wonderful

September 6, 2005

Dear Mr. Sherman:

First of all, thanks for all your help in the past. Your site and your responses have been a great help to me and many others! I’ve now run across a situation that I’ve never read about before, and I have a question:

I should tell you that I’ve always had a little trouble with my wrists. They don’t fully “rotate,” which has caused me problems with everything from computer keyboards to piano keyboards. My beloved clarinet, I thought, was one thing that I could work with despite this very slight handicap. I have always had a little difficulty with certain notes, mostly those just above the “break” that call for using my right pinky. These notes often cause my other fingers to slip a little unless I bear down very hard. But just yesterday I discovered by accident that by rotating the mouthpiece about an eighth turn counter clockwise, my hand positions become much more steady and comfortable and those problems I’ve had seem to go away.

I certainly don’t recommend this for anybody else, but it works for me. My question is this: am I likely to sacrifice anything in terms of tone quality, pitch, air movement, etc., by playing this way? I hope not, because my playing ease and speed — and enjoyment — have improved tremendously in the last 24 hours!

Thanks so much for your time!

Hi Mike:
I read your letter with a great deal of interest. It illustrates what I have learned with difficulty over the years:
We were not born to have the clarinet in our mouthes. If we were, we would have been born with it there.
Yes, terribly silly, however the point is every person should and may do as you have done. Our embouchures are all completely different. I have seen so many different though correct playing positions that I have learned this. I know players who look as if they could never play their instrument, however some of them play absolutely beautifully. Our hands also differ.
Some clarinetists in different countries play with the mouthpiece upside down.
The late Gino Cioffi,one of the most talented players of our century and principal clarinet of the Boston Symphony Orchestra came to this country with the mouthpiece upside down.

Many if not most play the clarinet with a very slight angle of the mouthpiece. Obviously your position was constricting your playing position or your fingers are a bit different and you fixed it yourself.
Hooray for you! You taught us all a very valuable lesson. And obviously, you will sacrifice nothing and improve your playing and your enjoyment.

Congratulations. Keep up the good work.

The Perils (and solutions) for”Dry Mouth” during performnce

September 4, 2005

Dear Mr. Friedland,
I really love your website, and admire how you give so much of your time to help those of us studying the clarinet.
I am a clarinet major at university and I have a problem with
performances. Although I go into exams and recitals very well prepared, knowing the work backwards, I still get a little nervous. This manifests in an extremely dry mouth. Having a dry mouth is not only uncomfortable — it severely compromises my tone!
I have read the suggestion to try biting your tongue to produce more
saliva, but that doesn’t work. I keep a water bottle close by and take sips between movements and works, but that doesn’t help for very long either.
I am at a total loss, and my teacher cannot think of any way to alleviate this problem. Do you have any other suggestions? I have my final recital in November and am very keen to try and overcome this problem.
Hi J.
There are two ways to get rid of your problem and probably both will work.
The first is to perform many times, because while the fear or whatever it is
that causes lack of saliva will remain to an extent, you will learn how to
cope with it, for each of us suffers from the nervousness brought one by
public performance, especially early in ones career. It is a fact of life ;
some admit it, others do not .

The more you perform the better you will play as far as dry mouth is
concerned. Having water near you doesn’t help, however it does broadcast to
the audience that you are concerned about the problem or some problem,
something which I do not care to do. I want the audience to know nothing
save for the beauty of music being emitted by the clarinet They are really
not concerned about your agony, really, it is a good way to think. You have
to get by it and reach the music and get it to your audience.

For years I did not move so much as a muscle during performance because of
what I just have said. Now I move but just a bit. So, the answer is to try
to climb above it somehow and that is best achieved by experience.

There is another way in which I can make a suggestion for your
consideration: There is a reed made and patented by two Phd’s that recreates
the reed in a synthetic, one of whose aspects is that of wet cane. It works
very well, and many players use it.
I have a person who thanked me profusely for the suggestion, a retired
musician who had mouth cancer and was left with an inability to produce
saliva. I suggested this reed to him and he thanked me profusely for the
suggestion, as he called it a bonus. It is called “Legere”
Put it into your browser and you may read about it and order as well, should
you so desire. It is only a bit different and you must get exactly the right
strength but it lasts much longer than conventional cane and is more
consistant. I have tested it for several months, had the chance to perform
on it and was totally satisfied as was my audience.
This was for a teaching position and I was given the position based upon my playing.
Good luck J. on your recital and all futures.

Caveat Emptor/How to establish value of and sell a clarinet/

September 3, 2005

I have been unable to play my Noblet Model 27 clarinet for many years and have, sadly, decided to sell it. Do you know of any resource or reference on clarinets that would give me an idea of the value of this instrument?

Thank you for any help.

No, none. I could but would have to have at least photos of it.
In any event, the worth is not great.
E Bay is a good place to look under Leblanc Clarinets in Musical Instruments because I would imagine you could find similar instrument there and also see what they are asking and receiving.

This is not an adverstisement, however the internet is a wonderful place to establish worth of any instrument and also value.

One must remember that the only person who can tell you what your instrument will bring is the buyer. Whether this buyer is a seller of clarinets or instruments or a private person the worth of any instrument will vary. If a seller buys the horn, they will offer the lowest possible price because they are buying it to resell. If it is a player, they will offer almost any price if they have a need for your instrument.

Determining the quality of a used clarinet is the most chancy aspect of it all, for again this is difficult to determine. Sometimes an instrument can state “recently overhauled” or “cleaned” and literally can mean nothing. Pads can be put in by almost anyone, but the proper placement requires real knowledge. Sometimes a really good instrument can be out of adjustment and can be rejected by the buyer out of ignorance.

I receive so many letters concerning buying and selling , letters which are difficult to answer without photos or serial numbers at the very least, so I refer these requests to the internet because there is the place that you can comparison shop, and incidentally find some terrific instruments, really great ones, and alas some really bad instruments as well.

Some companies had good serial numbers, other had terrible numbers, that is to say, meaningless. The Leblanc Company has made some of the prettiest sounding instrumentn of any but their serial numbers are a shambles and now the company has been sold.

Of course models have a good deal to do with the equation, and key configurations as well. There are collectors out there who might place a tremendous value on your clarinet if it happens to be a certain kind or series or configuration. The opposite is also true.

The field therefore is wide open and there are no straight unequivocal answers, however a playing field does exist and it is on the internet.

Good luck.