Slurring down, one of the more diffcult aspects of the clarinet

Dear Sherman,
I play a Buffet R 13 with a vandoren B 40 mouthpiece on Vandoren (3) reeds.I have some trouble sustaining a good legato when going down
from high D (above the staff) to a note lower than B or A
(also above the staff). I notice a bump in the sound and my legato
is totally off. Intonation of the latter note is worse somewhat, too.
also, the larger the gap is between the two notes, and the lower the second note is the more significant the gap is. Can this problem be solved with just trying tosustain a good air flow, or should I practise this some sort of other way?
many thanks, M A (Netherlands)
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Hi:
To answer your question: you have to practice in a different way.
Slurring in a downward direction from your High D to most notes is difficult , but so too is making an excellent and seamless legato across that upper “break” in the clarinet in either direction
There are many ways to go about correcting this frequently problematic execution.
I would suggest that you begin by putting a mirror on your music stand so that you can check all of your facial movements when you practice. This is important because as you mentioned you are having lumps in the sound, intonation difficulties and your legato suffers as well.
Putting a mirror on the stand or practicing in front of a mirror is an effective way of observing all of the varying facial movements you make when you move in either direction. Do not allow any discernible movement in your face, jaw, chin, and or embouchure.
Repeat nothing, not eyebrows, nothing should move when you play across this area of the clarinet.
That will rid of you of many problems, but may take some time for you to locate what you are doing and moving and it is easier to say, rather then to actually do, which implies the passage of time.
When you have eliminated extraneous movement then begin by playing the note B, the high one and slur from there to C#. Listen carefully. There must be no blip in the sound of any kind when you execute this slur and both notes must have the same timbre.
When you have achieved that interval to your satisfaction increase the note by one half step, that is to the high D. I would make a simple exercise slurring between B,C#, D, quietly and without movement of any kind, and then back down to the B. Again ,you may allow no facial movement in executing this slur.
When achieved to your satisfaction ,check your embouchure: have you been biting? Has the tone or the intonation suffered in any way?
It should not in order to be correct.
I would continue this practice until you can slur from the B to the D and then back down all the way .
Then following I would skip one not so that instead of stepwize your are moving by intervals, and again keep reminding yourself of what you are practicing: legato down, slurring down, one of the difficult things to achieve on the clarinet or most woodwinds for that matter.
As you go from stepwize to small intervals, gradually widening them, you will notice more difficulty, however you must make sure that you movee as little as possible and while you are doing it, do not bang your fingers as this helps nothing at all. Breathe evenly and keep the support equal and also practice at different dynamic levels.
This sounds like a lot but then again, you ar dealing with one of the more difficult aspects of clarinet playing.
I hope this helps you in some way.
Play well and stay well.
sherman

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