Clarinet Corner Query:
Dear Mr Friedland,
I have been playing the clarinet for around 12 years, and just play for fun However, over the past few years I have noticed a strange probem when I try to play for any length of time. After a while playing, I can’t seem to control the air release. I can’t stop the air from coming out of my nose as opposed to actually going down the clarinet! It begins as an air leak, and gets worseover the session until I can’t play a note. In addition, it makes a really embarrassing sound through my nose. Even when I am in practice, it’s a big problem. It takes the enjoyment out of playing, and makes me scared to join any kind of band or orchestra. It began after I had my tonsils out when I was 13 (I am now 22). I just wonder, have you ever heard of this before? My music teacher had never come across this problem and didn’t know what to suggest. Do you think it’s something wrong with my technique or is it simply a lack of practice? Could it be a problem with my clarinet, or perhaps the reed I am using? My clarinet is an Earlham with a Selmer C85 120 mouthpiece and I use a 2 1/2 Vandoren reed.
hanks for you time,
Dear in England:
Thank you for your note and I have indeed come across the problem because I have experienced it myself though I must say, not on a long term basis as I would assume you are saying.
Since you can start to play with proper sound production, then gradually the air comes through your nose, I would say to stop playing the very moment this happens.Stop right then and first try to feel exactly what has taken place within your embouchure to produce a change in the air column.
Do this while you are not playing.
Then when you think you may be able to start again in the so-called proper manner, do so, and try to determine the very moment the air begins to go into your nose. Try to pin-point the mili-second this happens. And stop playing at that very moment.
If you can play for a short time in a correct manner, just do not attempt to play incorrectly. Gradually you will be able to increase duration of correct playing. Do this until you have strengthened your embouchure and alleviatd the problem, which will happen.
You may be able to remedy the problem by simply eliminating it .
By stopping you begin to listen more feel more intently and I do believe that it wll be possible to stop this way of playing by study, and elimination of the problem. You do all of the controlling, meaning you also control the passage of air, allowing it only to go in the correct place.
Good luck, sincerely,