Newly discovering of the upper register

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


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