January 28,1986,Titusville, Florida (The Shuttle)

January 29, 2006

The tour with the MIT Concert Band started early in the week.I left the family in Montreal and flew to Boston. The Band off from Logan in Boston and landed in Tampa-St Pete. It was an extremely crowded flight, uncomfortable. Touring with a bunch of engineers going to MIT and playing music in the Concert Band and going on a tour every year on a Charter 20 years ago.
I was asked to be soloist in the first peformances of the Concerto for Clarinet and Concert Band by the Berklee Composer John Bavicchi, who was an old friend and a respected composer who writes as hard for clarinet as it gets. He glories in writing craziness, exults in it actually. Contrapuntal dissonance. I have recorded 3 works he wrote for me and I do not think I am comfortable with any of the three. The string quintet for A clarinet and string Quartet, the First Sonata for Clarinet and Piano and the Canto #1 for clarinet alone. I have about 40 works written for or commissioned by me and certainly I value his, regardless of difficulty with enormous respect .
There was a concert in Tampa that very afternoon, however the Concerto was to be performed initially in Titusville(as it was called then)the next evening.. In the morning of the 28th there had been a hard freeze and they had had to spray to orange groves with water in order to attempt to save the crop from frost and ruination.
So the morning sun on that clear day was blinding as it came through the frozen groves.
We all knew that the Shuttle was flying that day but we were thinking about the evening concert at Astronaught High School and I was thinking of that difficult concerto.
As we drove down the highway we began to see many cars parked along the side of the road and we too stopped. We had been listening to the car radio and they had lost contact with the launch.
Pulling up on the shoulder I took out my Minox (a constant companion) and pointed it to the sky to try to get a picture of what was happening.( I still have them, grainy as they are.)
There were three large columns of white smoke and many minute shards of smoke flying away from the three.
At that moment, the radio cam back on and announced that the Shuttle had “broken up”
Nobody understood those words, but looking up, it began to seep in that there had been a tragedy up there sudden and horrible and that all the members were most probably gone.
After a while we continued on out way toward Titusville and Astronaught High School. When we entered the school there were students walking aimlessly through the halls. Everyone was in shock of some kind and few had accepted the loss.
It was decided that the concert be performed and we rehearsed. I think that John Corley, the Director and the Band Members and myself were in shock.
That evening there was a large audience very very quiet, their attention seemingly locked on something else.
After the perhormance, someone in the audience mentioned that “we had all lost people that day”
It is strange to me that this was a similar feeling to the weekend of John Kennedys assassination when the Milwaukee Symphony had a concert on Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I was principal clarinet in that orchestra. The program included the Last Four Songs of Strauss, Don Jaun and we played the Adagio from the Orchestral Suite in D of Bach, The air on The G String.The world had the weekend for the shock of November 22, 1963 to sink in, and it was actually palpable. He had been such a popular president, available and aware.I had gone into a drug store in Milwaukee and saw Jack Ruby kill Lee Harvey Oswald on the television set in the drugstore. A totally packed audience, all in some kind of strange shock that remains fixed in the memory. Both of these concerts have remained always with me and the events that occured around them will be part of my andn all our history. I can think of no other two tragedies that so affected so many of the world.

sherman friedland


Extruding teeth and embouchure woes, dark and bright

January 25, 2006

Dear Mr. Friedland
Thank you for your great site! Since the first time I discovered your site, I almost checked it out everyday. This is really a great site.
Now, after playing in the high school band for more than 1 year as 1st clarinet, I had discovered recently that my embouchure is incorrect! As the book stated that the upper and lower teeth must be parallel while playing. But I have very extruding upper teeth, and I have to push out my lower to the maximum in order to make them parallel. However, it is almost impossible for me to do that as it is extreme tiring, and I am playing with a double-lip embouchure. So I tried to push my lower jaw a bit out, and have a low instrument angle, and surprisingly, I can get the highest C out without much pinching, even tough it is a bit flat and I cannot tongue the notes above the highest G. My question is, is this correct? If not, what should I do?
Also, my seniors tried to play the lowes t notes very depth, and make them °įsound like bass clarinet°Ī, is this concept correct?
Thank you very much for your time.

Hi :
You actually seem to have several problems, and although I cannot see and hear you I can try to help you solve them.
One of the first things I mention to all questions of mouthpiece placement and embouchure placement is that we go with what produces the best quality of sound, the most ease, the most range and the most intune, all of these under the heading of comfort and endurance while playing.
Stretching or contorting your embouchure will only make the problem worse.
Where do your teeth close naturally , you know when the dentist asks you to bite down?
If you are like most of us, you have what is called an overbite, wherein your upper teeth close over your lower.
Make your double lip embouchure. What feels and sounds best? What gives you the best intune, sound and range.
If you can answer these questions, then that is your embouchure.
I happen to play single lip embouchure, but I have played double lip, which I believe is the best way to play the clarinet.
In my embouchure I do move the lower jaw forward somewhst but I would be reluctant to suggest that you do the same.
I think you teachers want you to have a bigger and darker sound, a particular goal these days.
That is more the question of mouthpiece and perhaps reeds.
What you need is to be able to play with comfort and increasing endurance.
The “Art of Clarinet Playing” is a great book, but one should not neccessarily take it literally.Why? Because we each have different setups with our teeth, and they are all different. We take what makes us sound better.
I myself could not play with my teeth parallel but as I said, I do extend my lower jaw a very small amount.
I would remind you once again that comfort, tuning and endurance are important issues for you to consider before you begin following directions literally.
Now, there is a great debate going on at present about “bright” and “dark” sounds and the empahsis seems to be on dark, however that too is a matter of what it is that you most admire.
If you have a favorite player on records that you like to listen to, then perhaps you prefer his or her particular sound and you will almost play for that sound.
This is a general kind of answer, however I hope that it helps in some way (s).
best of good luck .
sincerely, sherman

On a new horn,…. rest it well, dry it well

January 15, 2006

Dear Mr. Friedland
I recently purchased a new Buffet R-13 clarinet. It plays beautifully. However, after about thirty minutes of play the middle A key on the top of the horn begins to play inconsistently and on occasions makes an airy gurgling sound. You can actually slowly open the key and see a water bubble between the pad and tone hole.

I took the horn to a local repair shop and they saw a very tiny chip in the wood grain near the tone hole. They patched this chip but the horn still plays the same.

My question is this-is there anything really wrong with this horn or am I just a very “wet” player. It is very unnerving halfway through a performance to not be able to play this A. I have tried blowing forcefully into the tone hole but this does not work. Sliding a piece of paper between the pad and the tone hole provides temporary relief. The tension on the key seems fine and the pad does seem to be leaking. Any advice would be appreciated. I am contemplating returning the horn as it is still under warranty but would rather hang on to it if thing problem can be remedied.

Thanks for your help

Here is the rule on leaking keys. You must blot the water with a clarinet paper or a cigarette paper unti it is gone.Completely. Then and this is crucial, you must swab out the instrument. If not the condensation will simply reappear for there is usually condensation in the bore which drips into the A because it is the closest place.
And be careful that you do not get the whole key and pad watersoaked. If that happens, you must wait for it to dry out, or else the pad may have to be replaced. If this horn is new, it should be broken in slowly. At least that is what I would do.
And take care to keep saliva and condensation out of your reed and mouthpiece. Take it back into your mouth almost every time you play and it will disappear….guaranteed.

best wishes and good luck on the new horn. Rest it well.
sherman friedland

Dear Mr. Friedland
Thank you for your prompt response. I really appreciate the great advice! Yes, this is a brand new horn. I have never heard of clarinet paper before – is this something that can be purchased at a music store? I assume from your comments that there is nothing mechanically wrong with the instrument and it does not need to be repaired? Otherwise, I will follow your recommendations and break this horn in a bit more slowly. D
No problem, my friend. I think and certainly hope it will help. Clarinet papers are cute little papers that stand in for cigarette paper, which is about the same, however the “drug” word attached to cigarette papers made the makers make their own product. But, just ask for cigarette papers and you will get the little packet which will last for a long time.
Some players leave the papers in the troublesome keys when they put their horns away just to make sure or insure that no water or condensation is left to damage. (music store probably, but a tobacco store definitely)
best, sf
“You are a tremendous resource of clarinet knowledge”Thanks again,D

“Bonjour”,”Buenas Dias”,”G’Day”, all great reeds

January 10, 2006

There are so very many different reeds available on todays market and so many are so good that they bear a bit of complinetary writing.

I had reason to purchase a plastic clarinet, a new one for an excellent price, and when it arrived, after trying it, I noticed there was a new mouthpiece included with the usual new reed affixed to it. For the very first time, I took if off the mouthpiece , wet it , put in on my mouthpiece and as they say, I was blown away!
What a great sound , even better response and superior articulation all on a reed that came screwed to a student mouthpiece. I removed it and looked at the back. It said something that I had never seen: the letters GC “thick blank” were on the back of the reed. I set about finding out what was the origin and found it to be none other than RICO, that scourge of my youth.
But this is a beautiful reed. I purchased a box, opened it and took the first two out, tried them and found them to be within the parameters of excellence that I had found on the one on the student mouthpiece.
For an old(read mature) man, that was all I needed. I will say, if you are looking for a mature piece of cane which blows very freely throughout the instrument, try this reed. It seems that it derives from France.
Next, I received a box of reeds “from our friends”, the name being Gonzalez from Argentina. Again beautiful golden mature cane, thicker blank and superb articulation and response. These come with the year of the harvest on the box. These were labeled 1999. Apparently a very good year.
The last of these new reeds are from Australia and they are magnificent as well but bear a bit more work, a small amount compared to the agony of bringing a Van Doren to life in the old days.
They are XL, either Vintage or not and they come with the year of harvest on the box. These are more vibrant, great cane and if they last and I think that they must they are all as good as anything I have played recently. For many years I played the Van Doren White Masters,(A German mouthpiece reed) yes on a French mouthpiece. The cane was so much better, the blank thicker, the only problem being that the reed was narrower and took very careful centering on the mouthpiece. However I say welcome to these new reeds mentioned above. Even the new Van Dorens are a bit better than in the past but they are outclassed by the Argentinians, and the Australians. G’Day, friends

The Buffet Greenline Clarinet/ an option.And,they break,too.

January 5, 2006

Please read the following which was written prior to me receiving the email and photos, and needs to be read with the caveat that the horn can and does, and did break. (A point one might make is that hard rubber will never break, is more stable than dust and fibres and costs about a third. IMO the sound runs circles around most other materials).

Hi Sherman,

I’ve been enjoying myself all morning today reading your Clarinet Corner,
and because you seem to know what you’re talking about, I thought I might
ask you a couple of questions myself. I’m 48 years old and have just
recently started playing the clarinet again after a break of 28 years. My
old clarinet is long gone, so I bought a new Buffet E11 Bb clarinet in September last year, which I thought might be just about good enough for me.
However, I’m already thinking about upgrading (it sounds crazy and it
probably is), because I thought I might as well go for something that I could be happy with forever (relatively speaking), and I can afford an upgrade, especially because I would get most of the money spent on the E11 back from the Internet shop I bought it from. I think maybe I settled for the E11 because I didn’t quite muster up enough courage to get something more expensive and better, and wasn’t perhaps entirely sure I would stick with it. It’s clear to me now however that I do want to stick with it for as
long as I may live, and that makes a difference.
Dear Professor Friedland:

I’m really hopiing ¬†you might be able to help me out here. Today
I slipped backwards on the carpeted steps in my university’s bandroom
just before band class, coming from the practice rooms upstairs with my
clarinet in my right hand. The clarinet didn’t actually hit the
ground, but the my right hand did, and apparently the impact was enough to break the lower part of the top joint off inside the top recess of the bottom joint.

It is a Buffet R13 Greenline with silver-plated keys that was purchased
new about 6 years ago.

I would like to know what my options are, and if it can be repaired,
who should I send it to? I love my clarinet and I want to make sure it
is well taken care of (I would rather spend the money to be sure I get
the best possible fix for it). I appreciate any advice or
recommendations you  might be able to offer me.

The joint may be replaced by Buffet at their option, or you can attempt to have it repaired, which is possible, with no assurance that you will still love it .

I am told that the Greenline clarinet is much less prone to cracking and/or swelling or shrinking than wood. This stability is worth something and you do a bit of good for the remaining supply of grenadilla wood.
I think it probably plays well, at least I have heard it does, and the opposite as well.The combination of carbon fibers and grenadilla powder of some sort makes for  the bonding.

What I really think is that the clarinet is made of a more stable material and that it is machined to a much higher degree than many other instruments constructed of  artifical ingredients.
It costs  the same as an R13 and will probably last longer if what I read is correct. I see it listed for almost three thousand dollars.
Still all in all, if you place value upon a clarinet made from grenadilla, then of course you should go there, (thats IF the clarinet contains any grenadilla)
For me the end machining is much better and the carbon fibres may be more stable,  it is an  instrument made from some powder and fibres.
You should schedule a trial to see if you like it in comparison to your current Buffet. If so, it will probably last you as long as you wish to keep it, if it doesn’t crack, which unfortunately for many, it does, and has.This is not a great recipe for a clarinet costing three thousand dollars.

Good luck, be well, and do good work.

( Garrison Keilers line, but I like it, and respectfully borrow it.)