Dear Mr. Friedland,
As always, I have to start by expressing my thanks for the many thoughtful and useful articles you’ve posted. Like every clarinet student, I discover more questions than answers as I explore my instrument, and I’m grateful that you manage to answer some of them with warmth and detail.
Today, I have two, if I can impose so far: first, I was reading about Peter Eaton clarinets on their web site(http://www.eatonclarinets.freeserve.co.uk/), and they mention a “large bore” clarinet. What is this? To the best of my knowledge, a large bore is a person one avoids at parties.
Second, I’ve been honored with a request to play two tunes at a wedding, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and “Memories of You.” I was relieved to find that “Jesu” is within my abilities, except that there seems to be no place to take a breath! Triplets, triplets and more triplets, without an obvious break. Do I “cheat” a note to grab some air?
I was delighted to be asked to play “Memories of You,” because it’s one of the Goodman tunes that first inspired me to pick up a clarinet. To my dismay, it’s the first three notes that are causing me trouble, a quick progression from C to C-sharp to D in the lowest register, complicated by a quick jump to D in the clarion. My pinky and third finger can’t seem to coordinate quickly enough to play this progression with the clean elegance it deserves. Are there exercises I can do make that movement more limber, or is it just a question of practice, practice, and more practice?
I guess that was three questions, wasn’t it? Well, any advice you can give me will be more than welcome. Thanks for your attention, and many thanks again for your excellent site!
Congratulations on being asked to play “Jesu, Joy of Mans Desiring”, and you know it is a piece that poses breathing problems to the wind player who must sustain the whole triplet part of the piece. The best thing to do is to steal a breath on the first beat of the fourth full measure, then come in quickly with the second and third note of the triplet. It works perfectly and the accompanist (if there is one) can help you as well.
Breathing: taking breaths in clarinet playing is an art all to itself and only comes after considerable thought and study. Knowing the harmony either inately or by study is also a help and the breath I mentioned works after you land on the tonic or keynote of the piece. In taking quick breaths a neat secret is to not gasp when you take in your breath which is a sure givaway to the listener. Always open your mouth wide enought to be silent as you take your breath.
The problem with going from low c-c# and then an octave to d is one that actually concerns the wrist as much as anything else. It sounds as if you are moving your wrist too much and therefore displacing fingers. Practice with as little wrist mothion as possible, especially going up an octave and keeping your fingers close to the keys and not lifting them too high or banging them..
Put a mirror on your music stand and you will discover amazing things as you watch your fingers and hand moving needlessly in such passages.
Sometimes I think that large bores are as you do, just a big drag, but there are many many players who prefer a large bore instrument, especially those in England, and they play very well. The largeness only has to do with less than a half inch and can give a bit more expression available, but I have found a large number of intonation problems as well. The Selmer Centered tone clarinet was considered a “large bore” clarinet and is favored by clarinet collectors because they think “large bore” nd jazz clarinet are somehow connected, which in fact, they are not.
Peter Eaton makes a wonderful instrument (I have heard) and they are pricey as well.
The bell is bulbous and kind of cute, but you knowthese things are made for the biggest part of the market, where the most money is, and that is not necessarily the professional clarinetist.
As I grow older, the plethora of mouthpieces, ligatures, reeds, clarinets, gadgets simply boggles the mind, even though I must admit I have a certain attraction for them.
One must remember however that only you can improve and no plastic or metal anything will help you.
No, I do not say practice, practice, practice, but I do say know what you are practicing, prior to putting the horn together. How many of us do that?
best , sherman