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