The best “effect” on clarinet is discipline

I’m a high school student who has been playing the clarinet for almost 5 years now. I have two question: Lately, I have developed a habit of playing with my instrument crooked (to the right side)…and I’ve done it so long my mouthpiece now has a crooked bite mark in. I’m not really sure what to do as I’m not really in any financial position to buy a decent mouthpiece. I don’t want to buy something extremely cheap that won’t be worth my money. Do you have any suggestions on fixing this issue without somehow raising 70 dollars or more for a good mouthpiece ? Secondly, I’m also involved in my school’s jazz band (the only clarinet player doing it!)…I’m currently working on exploring more effects on the clarinet that I can use…I’m working on the portemento (also incorrectly dubbed the “glissando”??). Gliding up in pitch without any breaks. Well, I can’t find any good resources on learning this technique. I’ve scoured the internet and rummaged through my band’s music office…but I found nothing about how to actually do it. I’m really interested in learning and was wondering if you could give me some suggestions on that as well. I realize that there has to be
a coordination in how your fingers come of the keys and how you “bend” it..I just can’t figure it out. Any and all advice will be greatlyappreciated.
Thanks in advance.
Hi John:
Thank you for your interesting letter and questions.
Regarding your playing position, there is nothing really incorrect about it. Everyone has a different position which is dependant upon the shape of your mouth and especially your teeth. If your position also entails raising one of your shoulders or any other strange or unusual movement, I would try to correct it, however there are many players who play their clarinet at a slightly different angle than straight out. The operative word here is “slightly” If your position is completely strange, then some change might be necessary. Do you have a teacher who plays the clarinet? You should have, and it is he who should answer these questions.
There is a mouthpiece called the “Debut” made by Clark Fobes which works very well for students and only costs about 30 dollars. It is really excellent. If you really wish to play the clarinet, it is not without cost, but that mouthpiece is really good and is inexpensive. What you really need is a teacher of clarinet.
You speak of”exploring more effects” on the clarinet.Young man, I suggest that the best effect is discipline. Learn to play correctly. After that epoch of work you will be able to do all. Start with a teacher.As far as portamento is concerned, there are many ways and steps along the way of a smooth and seamless portamento and most of them require as a beginning the chromatic scale going from one note to the next very rapidly and opening your throat to a considerable degree as you gradually learn to “gliss ” as they say.
Many different players employ different steps in learning to achieve a good portamento, but certainly all invlove as a basis, the chromatic scale and the careful and gradual relaxing of the embouchure. It is not necessarily a technic for the younger, less experienced player. I might suggest listening to the Rhapsody in Blue by different orchestras for a good model to carry around in your ear. Much learning is done by imitation, however a good clarinet instructor,one who plays can help much more, that is perhaps your main route.Best of luck to you.
sincerely, sherman


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