Starting “Double Lip” (Do it!)

November 23, 2005

Hello Mr. Friedland,

I have been playing the clarinet for years and would like to switch to double lip embouchure. When I try to tongue in the middle register the clarinet shakes and I cannot support it properly.

What am I doing wrong?

With thanks,A
—————————————————————–Hello A:
Double lip can be difficult for some people and is time consuming in the process..
Really, I would have to see all of your embouchure to be of some help/
Remember to take in the smallest amount of lip(s) that you can. The clarinet will at first tend to slip. Stay away from throat f and high c, which will have no support at all.
If you keep at it, you will start to tongue much more accurately, you will stop banging your fingers and generally will sound much better, however not in a minute.
Practice for only a few minutes each time and work up to half an hour over the period of a week or even a month, keep the range small.
Take in a small amount of mouthpiece. I studied with Gino Cioffi, Principal of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and he played double lip. I have never seen anyone take any less mouthpiece than he, and he had arguably the most beautiful sound in the business at that time, except perhaps for Harold Wright, who incidentally also played double lip. He succeeded Gino in the Boston Symphony.
The emnbouchure is actually both therpeutic and self-instructional.
It disallows all bad habits, and will leave you in a pool of blood if you bite or if you bang your fingers,or take in too much mouthpiece. It is the best embouchure and the most natural….and you can do it.
stay well, Sherman (use a slightly softer reed)


Pomarico, a small crystal apple

November 23, 2005

Dear Mr. Friedland,

Thank you for your quick response about the double lip embouchure. I will try to practise as you advise. I would also like to ask your opinion of pomarico crystal mouthpieces. I recently bought an emerald b pomarico crystal and I am not sure. It resonates well on some reeds and not on others. What do you think about the pomarico mouthpieces and crystal in general.

With thanks again,
Hi again:
Here is my story on Pomarico.
The mouthpiece was also called GG years ago because there was a Pomarico brother living in Rio and another in Italy. The GG was imported by Guigui Efrain quite a wonderful player with whom I was friends in Boston in the 50-60s.
So I had a -1 facing and it was the greatest mouthpiece I have ever played before or perhaps since, except for my Hawkins, which may even be better and is not glass, (an attractive look but it will break when dropped)…not bad, just a chip off the tip, if you know what I mean.RUINATION
The Pomarico in Italy is I believe the originator of all of these emrald things, and I do not hear great things about them, chiefly from a former student and wonderful friend who is Professor of Clarinet at the Univ of Miami, in Oxford, Ohio.
So, I cannot attest to the excellence of Pomarico. If you are looking for a fine mellow, rather lovely mouthpiece, look in your browser for Richard Hawkins.
His are really “from the heart” And I still insist I am not a mouthpiece “freak”.
Stay well, my friend,

White and Black Masters

November 22, 2005

Dear Mr. Friedland,

I have questions on a few reeds. First, what’s the difference between whitemaster reeds and blackmasters? you’ve said before that whitemasters were the finest you know of. are the blackmasters any worse? will they fit on a regular clarinet mouthpiece (B45)? Also, how do they compare in strength to the blue box vandorens?

I’ve heard only good things about the Gonzalez F.O.F reeds. Everyone seems to agree that they’re great, but some say that they’re harder than vandorens, some say that they are considerably softer, and then, some others say they play around the same as one. What are your thoughts on them?

Best regards to your infinite wisdom.
Hi A:
First, as to white and black master reeds
White Master Reeds and Vandoren Black Master Reeds are designed for German and Austrian clarinet players, respectively. Their cut is particularly calculated to suit the characteristics of the German system Clarinet mouthpieces.
Black Master Reeds have a larger and thicker cut than White Master Reeds.In our terms they do play on a north american mouthpiece, but you have to be very careful to center them or else you will have a problem.

But I remember them (white masters) as being better looking in terms of what we know to be a goodlooking reed, and they are thicker in the heart of the reed and are by comparison very responsive.The blue box VDs are not as consistent and do not play as well. I do however like the 56 rue Lepic VD. (You can keep your pet frog or turtle in the box, which is very sturdy…..just a few holes).

I have heard good things about Gonzalez reeds and several of my students play them, however I myself do not. The word from those of us with grey hair is that they are similar to the Morre reed.But reeds are simply “all over the place” which is the nature of the beast.

Stay well, my friend.


A ‘Good’ Sound………………………………?

November 20, 2005

Dear Professor Friedland:
I’ve been playing the clarinet for only 3 years in my school music program, and concert band. My teacher constantly remarks how he wants us to strive for a ‘good’ sound like him. A deep, dark rich sound. Unfortunately, I can’t achieve it, and in his opinion have a ‘happy sound’. The only thing is: the two people he remarks, who have this deep sound, are himself and a friend of mine, but when I hear them… I always hear ALL the air leaking through the corners of their mouth. Is this the ‘proper’ way? Because… well I prefere a crisp, clear sound, rather than the sound of someone seemingly sucking through a straw. So how does one make this dark, rich sound? and does it really need to be airy?

Thanks for your time,


——————————————————————–Dear Friend:
No, air leaking has nothing to do with the sound, but is either a problem the player has or a bad habit, sometimes both. I always urge any student to remove any air leaking from his mouth when playing. It is a distraction.
That these two people have air leaking is of no matter to their “sound”
If you do not like the quality, certainly do not try to copy it.
Sound should be clear, after a while you will develop ways to ennace it. The words, “dark” and “rich” are only words, which can have many meanings
good luck, sherman—–

The Leblanc L7, shall she buy new, or overhaul?

November 18, 2005

Hi Sherman!

I’m glad you’re here to answer questions. I have played a Leblanc L7 since I was a kid. I wanted to know which model Leblanc makes today that is equivalent to the L7. I am trying to decide whether or not to save my pennies and buy a new instrument or save fewer pennies and have my instrument reconditioned. I love my L7 and have really never considered playing any other clarinet. I have even told my children if they want to play an instrument in the band, I will buy them one. They cannot have mine.
Thanks for your website. I have found it an invaluable source of
Sincerely, L
There is no model made by Leblanc of any other company that compares to the L7, not in my understanding.
These “L” clarinets were simply the best playing clarinets, even recent models. There was a comfort to all apsects of the clarinet. Tuning was problem-free, the keys were made and set beautifully and the instrument was able to impart to me a really welcoming ambience.
This of course goes right up the present Opus II and The Concerto, and all others of this issue.
It is noteworthy and interesting to all clarinetists, that the two most celebrated clarinetists in the US play Leblanc clarinets: Eddie Daniels and Larry Combs.
I do not believe that they play them for any other reason than those of a musical nature.
There are three major brands of instruments sold in the US today, Selmer and Leblanc are the only two which are made to be inherently intune.
That completes my list.
Have your horn overhauled. If you need the name of a good repairperson who is truly expert and honorable. Please write again.
In the meantime I will ask his permission.
Best of good sounds/

From “Juniper” in the Netherlands.

November 14, 2005

Dear Mr. Friedland,

First of all, I like your internet site very much. I learned a lot of it and reading about the clarinet is a same pleasure as playing on it! (wrote it down whit a very large smile)

I’m a twenty-four year old woman and I’m playing the clarinet since I was eleven. I started to play in a smalI village in the Netherlands, the country where I live. I was always struggling with my sound, like every clarinettist seems to do. There where always “swizzles and sizzles” behind the sound. It was not very loud, but it wasn’t very beautiful. A year ago I turned over to other reeds. I did not play the vandorens (had played 2 1/2) anymore but started on rico royal reeds (strenght 3). I never had swizzles and sizzles anymore, what was a real pleasure. I turned over to another mouthpiece too. First I played the B 45 of vandoren, at the moment I playing the Selmer goldentone 3. I never had problems anymore with my tooth above, which I had since I had a broken teeth after a accidence. (yes the dentist had fixed it, but it never feels like your own) It’s easier to pruduce a open and centered tone and the whole register is easier to play with the selmer goldentone, but the tone isn’t very friendly. I have one when I try an vandoren reed, but the swizzles and sizzles return. When I start to play on a rico the swizzles are not there. Is it a reed problem or a embouchure problem? Is there a way to produce a more friendly and warm tone without swizzles and sizzles?

yours sincerely and thank you for the answer,

PS. I hope my English is to read without any problems, it’s long ago I wrote down some
Hello in the Netherlands, how nice it is to receive a letter from your country. I think it may be the first on this site.

The swizzles and sizzles as you say is most probably condensation which gathers under the reed as you play and vibrates as you play. It is most probably inaudible to anyone listening to you, however I can understand how it bothers you. It does me.
But, it also may be from a reed which is too resistant (hard) or even too soft, though I do not think so.
You have to remember to draw back in this condensation into your mouth.
It is a reed problem not an embouchure problem as far as I can tell.
Do not worry about your tooth. I am sure it looks fine.
I do not know the selmer goldentone mouthpiece, however if it solves one problem, that is good.
The best mouthpiece that I know is really the Van Doren M13, which I find is one of the more friendly mouthpieces I know.
There are many reeds out there, and the Rico Grand Concert is better.
The “legere”, a synthetic reed is recommended by many and used by many, including me.
Get a 2.75 (that is a strength and see if that helps. It is expensive, but lasts for a long time. Get two and alternate them.
best of good luck, sincerely,

Taking care of Opera

November 14, 2005

Mr. Sherman Friedland,

I’m an amateur hobbyist who very much enjoys playing, and I have found (and purchased) a set
of used Leblanc Opuses in a double case (with your various articles and impressions of them
constantly in the back of my mind while looking for a good set of professional clarinets). After
searching your site many times, I haven’t found anything describing how to care and maintain
the clarinets. I live in NJ which can be battered with humidity changes and temperature
changes, and would like to know the best methods to ensure that these clarinets will last me a
lifetime. Should they be oiled on some sort of schedule? How should I store them in the case
to better protect them from cracking (I’ve had two of my past clarinets develop cracks by the
register tone hole and so I’m obviously missing SOMETHING, even though I’m swabbing them
after every practice session). Is there anything you recommend to keep the keys as shiny as
possible? And is there anything else I’m forgetting?

Thanks for the time you take with your website as it’s helped me and I’m sure lots of others
with very handy bits of information! I’ll be making every attempt to hear your upcoming concert
in February 25, ’06! Can’t wait!
——————————————————————–Hi A:
Many thanks for your note about Opus Clarinets, and rest assured you will have a problem-free tenure with these instruments.
Having performed my magic, I will continue by telling you that there are many ways , more than many ways prescribed for keeping clarinets safe from harms way.
I consider that by harms way we mean cracking and I will tell you, that there is no fool-proof way, for one simply cannot tell about wood, one cannot divine what will happen, but there are definite and absolute things NOT to do.
In other words an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Here is a list of things I know NOT to do in taking care of clarinets.:
Never place them in extreme temperatures, or move them from frozen to room temperature without waiting until they and you adjust to the temperature, which means of course, do not leave them in the trunk of your car to freeze or to fry, and then move in and play them immediately, which is a absolutely a recipe for disaster….or living on the edge….of a crack.
Come inside and open the case cover of your instruments and let them get accustomed to the temperature and the humidity of the room before playing on them.
And when they are new, play them only briefly each time, and not for long periods of time.
I have never oiled a clarinet in my life however I notice it is all the rage on the various boards, I think almond oil being the current lubricant advised by anyone with a website.
This is I think different from bringing a clarinet back to life, that is to say, a horn that has been languishing for many years and needs to be played again. The oil seems to be a better idea for a completely dry and dried-out instrument.
It seems to make more sense….my only reason for suggesting this, however as I have said, I have never oiled a clarinet.
I have had only one that has had a crack and this was in a set of two, the crack developing on the Bb horn on the edge of the clarinet that faced the case opening. This I thought was because the cold air was always there at that edge. Perhaps I was right.
Anyway I had it pinned and never worried after that.
Other than that there was one more that developed within the metal socket of an articulated G# on a Mazzeo Clarinet upon which I played the keys off.
The whole socket became loose, and still I played on it, and then finally the crack I saw stopped me and I had it repaired. That is the end of my crack history.
I have had students who developed cracks, but I cannot tell how, not exactly.
As to keys binding you will probably never have that problem, not with then being used and Opus, for I think they choose the wood for those with extreme care and whomever owned thenm prior to you probably suffered any binding that was to happen.
Pads need to be replaced from time to time. I would have all cork pads installed in the upper joint by a competent work person, and leather kid pads in the lower joint wherever possible.
I have these now on my clarinet and I really like the effect that these pads give me, very secure.
I have heard of many students and colleagues and friends ruining instrument by soaking them in various oils, specifically olive oil if you can believe it, so, as I have said, I do not oil clarinets.
Put the words “clarinet oil” into your browser or your google and do a search, in miliseconds you will have a list. Use it carefully, please.
Good luck with your Opera.
sincerely, sherman

The clarinet that was and is a pleasure to play

November 11, 2005

Dear Professor Friedland,
Obviously you have played very many different clarinets in your long career. Your logic about what constitutes finding a successful clarinet will be most instructive for those of us who have no intentions of performing in front of others, but rather perform for ourselves as a form of relaxation and self-education . I think the view of a master such as yourself would be really enlightening because I have often observed that the people who achieve the most in any kind of professional field are those who can find a way to make their practice pleasurable and a continuous learning experience.

While living and working in Montreal in the ’80s I encountered several clarinets which were extremely exciting just to hold and certainly to play.
It is very inteeresting to me that the clarinet I discovered was one which was vilified certainly by most players in the Northeast and played by no symphony player. No matter how much publicity was out there, the Leblanc Clarinet had the worst reputation of any, and interestingly enough with no proof ever given. It was simply not an instrument to play, or to buy or to advertise. Earlier in my career, when playing Mazzeo Clarinets, as Principal Clarinet of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the manager of that orchestra was approached by the Leblanc company with a proposition: If I would play Leblanc and the Woodwind Quintet of the Orchestra would be called the Leblanc Woodwind Quintet of the Milwaukee Symphony, there would be a substantial donaton of $25000 given to the orchestra.
Upon being approached , I immediately got in touch with my teacher and mentor, Rosario Mazzeo who write back telling me that it would be a very bad mistake for me to accept such a highly unethical approach, which I subsequently turned down.
Curiously however after leaving that orchestra and moving to Montreal, it was a Leblanc clarinet that finally won my ear. It was a Leblanc L27 presented to me to try from the largest music store at the time in that city. (It is further of interest that the two most reknown clarinetists in the US today both play Leblanc).
I had had the habit of trying every clarinet they had in stock, taking it out for months at a time to examine . I frequently played concerts on all of these instruments. There were many Yamaha clarinets(notably one “62”, a terrific instrument), several Buffets, and several Selmers, the best of which to me the Recital which I especially admired for its even sound and rather rich scale. We called it “the Fat Clarinet” because it was a larger diametered instrument with a narrower bore.
But the best clarinet I played which was certainly the Leblanc L27. First and foremost was the intonation. I simply could not get the tuner to deviate from directly “on pitch” for every single note I would play, including lowest e , throat Bb, open G and simply any note that I’d play, giving me tremendous confidence and also a desire to play the thing constantly which I certainly did. This clarinet also had a smaller key layout which seemed to fit my fingers better than any other, even the Recital. The resistance was perfect.
I had had a somewhat similar feeling with a full Boehm Buffet clarinet which I wish I had kept, however the Leblanc was the favorite. Funny, but I never owned that instrument, just had it in my house for years until finally I gave it back. A lovely instrument and still my feeling are very much with Leblanc as having the best sound ideal of anything I have played. I later purchased a set of Opus I clarinets which were absolutely lovely, but did not have the resonance of the L 27,or perhaps they did.
Since then I purchased a set of LLs at a remarkable price which are terrific and really surpass the others and presently I am playing a Selmer 10s purchased in 1997 in Sweden. Finally I have to say that I love playing them all, every single instrument. It is just a pleasure and has been that way for the past fifty or 60 years.
I guess like many I can be called obsessed with the clarinet. Thank you for asking.
sherman friedland

Changing horns, how to tune, whom to tune?

November 7, 2005

I am a community conert band player and have played both alto sax and clarinet in this band for the past several years. Recently, I upgraded a clarinet I had been playing for many years, a Selmer Signet Soloist, for a new Buffet R-13. The old Selmer always played on the sharp side and I used a longer Eddie Daniels barrel to help deal with the problem. I got a great tone from the old Selmer using a Vandoren B-45 mouthpiece and a Vandoren V-12 31/2 reed I now get a great sound with the Buffet using the same mouthpiece and reed. However, intonation has now become more of an issue. I tune the throat open G with the barrel and the middle C by pulling the middle joints. After I get these in tune the CDEF just below the open G play flat while the upper tones from middle C on up are fine. I recently tried a new Portnoy BPO-2 mouthpiece and did not find any changes in intonation. I have a new Vandoren M-13 mouthpiece on order but it has not arrived yet. Do you have any suggestions for me or is what I am experiencing normal for this instrument. Thanks very much for your help, DB
Hi D: How do you tune? With an electronic tuner, or to a person or pitchpipe or what? One needs to know.
If you have a meter with a needle on it, you may very well be tuning sharp because the needle goes past the correct pitch and then returns to being right on. If you tune when you are cold, you will of course tune flat and then go way above the pitch. If you are tuning in a band, what do you tune to?
I have found that tuning is the most heinous of chores especially when one want to be right “in tune”, which is by the way an impossibility because the clarinet does not have exactly the same temperment as other instruments, in fact the piano and the clarinet are really basically tuned far away from each other. It has to do with 3rds and 6ths which are one way on the piano another way on the clarinet.
The best way to tune is with yourself. Get an “A” from somewhere either reliable or the ruling force and tune one note to it.
Buffets have certain characteristics which are very consistent.
They are sharp in the throat and the Bb, in tune in the second register and flat in the altissimo….or they tend in these directions. The low E is also flat, but so too are most Selmers.
It is too bad that Buffests are expensive and not terribly well-in-tune, except oif course if you have it tuned or choose from ten or twelve. They are not terribly consistent one to the next.
Selmers tend to be more in tune, however the sound is a bit less focused than Buffet.
Mouthpieces can be of course crucial.
In general the M13 is a very intune mouthpiece. It has been mine, at least my prncipal mouthpiece for the past several years and most of my students seems to like them or choose them.
Supposedly the 13 connnotation is for the R13, or some say, American pitch. I do not know the exact derivation of the number, but either root has a nice ring of truth about it.
I find the Hawkins mouthpiece or the Gregory Smith mouthpiece to be very excellent for pitch and the sound is superb as well. Natually there are many others. I have played Clark Fobes and that plays well, although I don’t seem to stick with it. And many many more. The C85 Selmer is great, but Van Dorens sell more.
One can play beautifully and in tune on a Van Doren or a Selmer or any good mouthpiece, which incidentally do not have to made in a dark laboratory or with a secret recipe or a very special blank, all of that is kind of , well hooey, if you will.

Dwell in intonation in the realm of the ear. best of good luck, sincerely,

Upgrading for my daughter. Buffet, an accident waiting to happen

November 7, 2005

I have read your pages for about a year now and really respect your truthful responses. I have also notices a very large amount of ‘which one should I buy’ type questions. Well, unfortunately, my question is down that same path. We just moved to a new city with a much larger and more personal middle school band program. My daughter is doing really well with her Vito, which is her upgrade from her original hand-me-down Bundy. After discussing her abilities with the band director, I will probably offer her a wood clarinet for next fall to start High School concert band.

I personally play an E-11 which is fine for me, but I’m only a community band player. My E-11 seems a little large for right hand, and her Vito actually seems a touch too small for my fingers. My keys are slightly farther apart than her Vito. Her band director tells me that the serious students play Buffets, but I know some decent adult players that play Noblet 40s or Sonatas also. The way I picked mine was to go to South Bend where I could try about a dozen and compare along with my checkbook constraints. As a matter of fact, she chose the Vito by doing the same exersize at Woodwinds and Brasswinds.

My questions are as follows;
Is Buffet really that much better for a developing student?
Do some actually fit different size fingers or should she learn to use the better clarinet?
Is it possible to buy one that will last her through High School?
Should I just take her to sit down with a dozen options like I did for myself?

I appreciate what you do in your Clarinet Corner. Please continue because many of us have no trustworthy resources in our local areas.

Hi Al:
I read your letter with interest because of certain facts I know to be the case.
A buffet is not necessarily the horn of choice for players going places….where I don’t know. It is a nice sounding instrument with one large accident waiting to happen: the little finger(left) connect to the connectors piece with plastic dowels which have broken within my students experience, hence I would not buy any kind of Buffet.
Leblanc of any kind s much better choice and the Opus is the best one, and it has a slightly smaller key set than does the others. If not the Opus, then any used Leblanc: I bought a set of LLs which are really terrific.
The Leblanc Sonata is a good good instrument which will also suffice. Vito, no. Noblet or Mormandy, maybe, but Opus, Sonata and Infinity are the best and will play and sound that way.
The Opus has a very high list but the dotted line can be much lower, I have found.
Definitely the horn you buy can last her through high school, especially the Opus. If you can get an Opus 1, that will be cheaper than the II and very little different.
Good luck with your searches.
sincerely, sherman