Hi Mr Friedland,
First, I want to thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience
with others.I am a retired professional musician and have become active in my community helping students with their woodwind aspirations. I have sucessfully avoided the clarinet for many years. Last year I was asked to play clarinet in our local orchestra. I struggled through it and have been putting some effort learning to play. Everything is going well except that I am very frustrated with middle B and C. It feels as though the resistance on these notes increases dramatically. These notes have a difficult response and they do not sound clear.(like two notes sounding at the sametime)
I have tried different mouthpieces, barrels, reeds and clarinets. The problem persists pretty much to the same degree with all combinations. Is this just the yoke around the neck of all clarinetists or is it just me? I have tried changing my embouchure but have not stumbled onto any secrets. Playing with an extremely loose embouchure seems to help the clarity but not the response.
Do you have any thoughts ?
Equipment: Patricola CL2 Clarinet
Rico Grand Select 2 to 3 strength
In reading through your letter and considering all the changes you have made in order to clear up the stuffiness in the b and the c, I am led to believe that there is the possibility of the fact that your clarinet is not adjusted properly and is leaking air at some point, or that you are not covering completely all of the fingers employed in the production of the b.
If you were not a clarinetist to begin with, having “avoided the clarinet for all these years”,the covering could well be the problem.
Try first to get the c , begin with it. It will not come out until all fingers are covering. When they do and you achieve the c, try to remember exactly the positions of all your fingers, and then simply close the left little finger which gives the b, and it should come out immediately.
Starting to play that particular place on the clarinet is most difficult initially.
If that is not the case, it has to be either the clarinet is out of adjustment or the mouthpiece is faced improperly, or the reed is too stiff or too weak, both of which could keep the b and the c from sounding, but I think that the problem lies in the placement of your fingers, which is why I suggest getting the c first.
The amount of support necessary for producing these notes is more as well. When you say loosening your embouchure helps, I think that you also loosen your fingers, and that you could be clutching the clarinet in desparation to get the b and the c.
Good luck. I hope this helps.