Choosing a mouthpiece

October 31, 2006

The most wonderful thing about mouthpieces is the extension of endless amounts of time as you try them, switch them, then switch reeds each for the other. The process can go on endlessly.
After breaking what was an apparent crystal from heaven or the environs thereof, I stumbled on Van Doren mouthpieces. They are a playing mouthpiece however they share a certain high frequency which we tend to call bright and while the facings differ, they all have that quality, or call it edge. I know this because of so many years of playing different Van Doren mouthpieces, including most of them. Then I stumbled on a mouthpiece, an old one that I received inadvertantly , a Gennusa, which seemed to me to be much less edgy or bright than any other mouthpiece I had played. Investigation of this mouthpiece showed that Mr Gennusa,esteemed Principal of the Baltimore Orchestra for many years had experimented with the mix he used for the hard rubber resulting in a quality that is different than either Van Doren or the Zinner, and for me, preferable. This mouthpiece I had copied for me by Ben Redwine, himself a student of Gennusa and now owner of the Gennusa Company. For me, an excellent copy and with a sound that is never objectionable and a mouthpiece that accepts more reeds than any I have played. These criteria then are mine, for those who
who seem to suggest trying this and then that I offer them to the readers of this site. Sound, Response, Reed acceptibility, and Range. (There are others, but one must choose)
Perhaps these criteria may be something to consider in choosing which one. But do not keep switching because life is simply not that long.

Stay well, all

Sherman Friedland


Problems with pads

October 29, 2006

dear sherman,

I use a Buffet RC with a grabner AW personal and V12 3,5/4. I’m very happy with my current setup, but now for my question
I have not had any trouble until now with my clarinet (one year after
but recently my clarinet pads were really affecting my playing.
some of the pads are showing a very dark colour and the left hand G sharp
(clarion) actually
had a very thin layer of the pad itself fall off. should I get my clarinet
repadded? I believe the pads I currently have are called gortex (?)pads.

will replacing these bad pads with new ones have any good effect on my sound
should I go for cork pads then?
Hi M:
If the clarinet is leaking, you must replace the pads, and if it is only a year old, the problem probably lies in the fact that you do not swab out the instrument carefully. If you practice for three hours, swab the horn a few times in that time period, and you must make sure that all tone holes are dry when you put the clarinet away. Many players will leave thin papers in the most problemtatic tone hols so as to make sure the clarinet is dry.

Some use the dampit which rests inside the horn and keeps it dry, although there are some who feel that it can somehow retain water. This is not true, however if you leave water in the clarinet, the dampit may indeed fail. Keep your horn dry between sessions.

Thank you for your question concerning pads on your clarinet. If the clarinet is not leaking, there is no reason to change the pads.
However the G# that has lost the top covering needs to be replaced.
The dark color that is seeping into your pads do not harm them as it is just the color of the clarinet that is leaking a bit onto the pads themselves and should cause no great problem.

The business about pads and the material of which they are made causing a change to the quality of sound is somewhat conjecture, but for your information, I use kidd leather pads in the bottom joint of my clarinet and all cork pads in the top joint. Both seem to last and last with no problem, and the quietness of the leather is rather lovely.The cork pads are a real water saver and they are very long lasting as well, however they must be installed carefully, ans must be veveled or else they become noisy. My cork pads are quite good, I feel. To answer your question, cork is not necessarily better, just a harder matrerial.
There is one other pad for you to consider and that is the Valentino Synthetic pad, which are highly recommended by many clarinetists, and they are controversial as well, because of “their sound”. Pads themseves do not emit sound, but in the world of clarinetists there are as many opinions as there are players.
Whomever installs pads should be able to do it properly and that is not everyone. They must be fully experienced and sensitive as well.

Good luck in all your work.
Play well,

Sherman Friedland

Switch to Basson in Band?, and a happy ending

October 28, 2006

Dear Mr. Friedland,

I am a high school band member and would like to ask you a question.

This is rather private. I have been playing the Bb clarinet for two years, first chair. And I really really love the instrument, and have spent a lot of time in it. I also ordered a instrument from Mr. Rendiours few days ago.

However, recently, our band director wanted me to shift to bassoon section (as our band doesnʼt have bassoon section yet), his reason for that is because I have the so call bassoon embouchure. He would get a private tutor for me.

What I am thinking is that as my sight reading, rhythm is very bad, this bassoon tutor may help me in conquering these problems, so my clarinet playing skill may become better.

So I now face a conflict, should I play it? As I am afraid that this may affect my clarinet skill, or, just the opposite? Would playing bassoon affect my clarinet playing?

I am now extremely frustrated over this thing.

As I really admire and respect you, I would like to get some advice from you.

Thank you very much for spent your precious time; any form of help is greatly appreciated.



Dear W
Thank you for your very interesting letter.

The first question I would have is, will you be giving up the first chair clarinet position in your band, and would that bother you?
The bassoon embouchure business is conjecture at best. He thinks that you have the intelligence to play the bassoon, and/or he has someone who wants first chair badly. I do not know which.

The bassoon will make you read better because you will be learning to play in the bass and then the tenor clef, both foreign to you at present, so that too is a consideration. Will it make you a better sight-reader,? probably not, as far as the clarinet is concerned.

Do you plan on a carreer is music? Bassoon , like the band , is more desired out in the music world, and there are many fewer bassoonist than clarinetists.

Do you love the clarinet more than you love music? Does it matter to you that much?

You will have more opportunities to play bassoon for as long as you play it, and there are always needs in symphony orchestras for bassoonists, and many many more clarinetists around than those who play bassoon.

Where are you located? Will the private tutor be a bassoon player or will he be just a student somewhere or a music education major?
Initially however, I would advise you to play both, and suggest that it will only serve to improve your clarinet playing.

Best wishes, and thank you for going to my site.Do not hesitate to write to me.

Stay well,
Well, there is a happy ending to the story. I received this note this morning:

Dear Mr. Friedland,

I thought it would be better to give a continuation of the story. After the audition for bassoon, our band conductor has changed his mind and decided that I shall stick with clarinet as I made some horrible sound on the bassoon. And for me, I couldnʼt be happier; I would continue playing the clarinet and visit your site daily, to learn new things.



Paul Hindemith, his importance to the Clarinet

October 27, 2006

Concerning Elementary Training for Musicians,I used that Hindemith book for 20 years of teaching Ear Training, or as my students probably called it Fright-singing, and Fear-Training.
I know from the many compliments I have had over the years that Hindemith has helped my own reading as well as anyone who has worked with that book.

But , we owe so much more to Paul Hindemith and one simply has to list the following works he wrote including clarinet that are so important in the repertoire, and I have a question for you at the conclusion of this long list:

The Woodwind Quintet, 1924
Clarinet Sonata, 1939 (strange that Lennies Clarinet Sonata 1942, sounds so much like it)
The Clarinet 4tet, for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano
The Clarinet Quintet for Clarinet, String Quartet, (with a wonderful movement for Eb, hard as ****) the last movement of the work is a mirror image of the first.
Three Pieces for 5 players, Clarinet, Violin,Trumpet, Double Bass, and Piano
The Concerto, another difficult, rhythmically challenging work.)
Abend-Concert for Vioilin, and Clarinet

Now, my question is one of corroboration:
Since I first played the Woodwind Quintet, I was told by a respectd teacher that indeed Hindemith wrote all of the parts individually while riding the train to and from Berlin, and then, staggeringly, he wrote the score from his head. Is this true?

It doesn’t matter. I will always choose to believe it.

Thanks for bringing the Hindemith name back. All of the above works have enriching, beautiful and prominent clarinet parts. I have concert recordings of them all, save the Concerto, another long story.

stay well, all

Sherman Friedland

I posted this on The Clarinet Bulleting Board

The Ridenour A Clarinet

October 26, 2006

Answering a question about the Ridenour clarinet:

I have a Ridenour A Clarinet. It is simply the best A I have ever owned and plays almost as we say, by itself. It makes me remember the old days when people always used to regard the A clarinet as something to avoid, truly, many of us in Boston played everything on one clarinet, a Full Boehm Bb, which made everything possible, better in tune, and while it didn’t teach you to transpose it made it most mandatory and actually simple. Then we were advised to gat an A with less resistance than the B because it seemed so much more resistant, and then when the clarinets became competitive, one company against the other and they started to improve, it was still somewhat of a hassle, the switching to A.
The Ridenour A clarinet is simply totally even in production of sound, intonation, and the ability to play the second movement of the Brahms 4th, or the Cadenza from Peter and the Wolf, with ease, and not feeling like the cat who climbs the tree.
Just call it the Ridenour A. I wonder why his modesty keeps him from calling it that. This is one designer whose name really belongs on his horn, and many others as well.

stay well, all

Sherman Friedland

The ability to Sightread, can it be learned?

October 25, 2006

How very interesting are all the suggestions I’ve read in the matter of sightreading, and certainly I have been a sightreading clarinetist all of my life. In a way my offering duplicates the others, but I have two suggestions available for everyone who has found this ability to read music at sight somewhat daunting, elusive, if you will.
There are two books ,superior to all others which teach this part of our business:
“Elementary Training for Musicians”, by Paul Hindemith is the first. This is not elementary at all, but the most elusive kind of singing exercises I’d ever seen. I used it to teach myself and classes of students for many many years with astounding success, and it was not me, but the book that did the teaching. These are singing exersises that look painfully simple, yes they look elementary, but I never had a student who could do them without intense sorting out of the rhythms and melodies at home or wherever they did this work. You have to count at the same time as you sing, and the first onslaught of difficulty proves to you that this cannot be done without study and the ability to sing,rather than play the simple and short examples. By sing, I meant, that yes, all clarinetists must be able to at least sing the Hindemith Exercises. It makes you much more than what you were when you first were shocked by their apparent simplicity, and very complex look at music. Or perhaps think of them as different, requiring the making of skills heretofore simply regularized by the dozens of ear training treatises, which are all the same. You see a couple of phrases and then the others are already in your mind. Hindemith was a great composer, but an even greater teacher, and this book is one that I suggest for your consideration. Go slowly, ten or fifteen pages will help you enormously to improve your ability .
In the manner of playing, there is another short work of scales,in my opinion simpler than sequential exercices. “Emile Stievenard Study of Scales”.Well, you are saying this guy is really completely absurd, these are just scales. True, but do them correctly you will improve your reading to the killer level in a short time. You start with two pages of C major, perhaps twenty different lines of C major.This must be done with a metronome set at 40 beats per minute. The first is a simple staccato C major scale played in eightnotes forte, followed by three beats rest at the same tempo, continuing on to the second line, yes, still in C major, but in eighth note triplets, played pianissimo. The metronome continues at this painfully slow tempo, and, well you cannot do it, without jerking into the triplets and playing much too loudly, until you and your fingers and your ear gets the jist of this syncopation that you must perform silently while counting those three beats rest.
This is the way of Stievenard and it continues throughout the book, always changing and always demanding you to change tempi, touch, dynamic, articulation, and range as well. You have to perform the change as the metronome clicks the remaining beats rest, and commence the next in exactly the time, tempo, articulation, of the previous, and everything has changed.
Done correctly it teaches you to sit in an ensemble, listening to the rests go by as you prepare for your entrance and make the necessary changes to come in exactly intime, which will please, the section, the conductor, and yourself to a considerable extent. Think of being able to divide a quarter note triplet totally accurately in an enrtrance marked pianissimo, either in Chamber Music or in a symphony orchestra. And this works in any musical milieu.
We as students found these works to be frustrating beyond comprehension, especially the Hindemith, however if anything can teach one to read at sight, these two works are without peer, and not frequently experienced.
My students used to talk behind my back, and they’d say, “this guy can read flyshit!”…and that, friends is a compliment.

Good luck in all of your endeavors.

Sherman Friedland

Identifying Selmer Clarinets by model numbers?

October 23, 2006

Hello,not sure if you can help.I have seen a selmer paris clarinet advertised and its serial number is w4420 which I believe dates it to 1970/71.I have asked the vendor if a model number is written in the clarinet ie series 9 or series 10 and am told that no model number is shown.I am puzzled and wonder what model it might be….Thanks
————————————————————— Hi: There are many many Selmer Paris Clarinets that do not have a designation as to model number, probably more than do have such a number.
Your clarinet was made in 1970-71 as you say, which makes it very close to the the model number designation known at Model 10.
This is a smaller bored instrument than let us say, the Centered Tone, but still as good a clarinet , better if the intonation is as good as most or many Selmer clarinets of around this time.
I play a 10S which is a variation of the 10, and there is a 10sII, and of course the 10G, which is supposedly an exact copy of the Buffet R13, but that varies considerably. I had a set of 10G clarinets which played like no Buffet I ever tried, but there are, as I say so many times, too many variables to even count or figure. The Series 9 is a smaller bore and more like the Buffet clarinet, (for want of another adjective), the series 10 is better intune than the 9. I have played every single Selmer model made until the latest ones, and might mention that I was a clinician for the Selmer Company for 30 years. But that is all finished now, so, as to the vintage clarinets, named here, you may certainly take my opinion for whatever it is worth which is certainly equal to anyone’s, I would think.

Good luck on whatever you buy, or play.
stay well and play well.
Sherman Friedland

Is there an answer to the one perrenial problem?

October 23, 2006

(The following is taken from my posting on the Clarinet Bulletin Board, answering a posting concerning find the perfect reed.)

“If one is searching for the perfect answer to the problem of reeds, it is my feeling that one can find it only by creating it, for most certainly it differs for each of us.

Making one’s own reeds takes a bit of time,and a few tools and more than anything, good cane, for which you must find a reliable source.
There was quite a nice comment about the sound and feel of cane on this site, which is quite correct. It cannot be duplicated by plastic. The Legere reeds all play, but they sound and feel strange almost from the beginning. They have also other “cuts”, the Quebec cut, which has a deeper sound, not as bright, or “brittle” as I have heard the term used many times. But they last a shorter time and begin to change almost from the first or second day….and that begins to sound like any cane reed, however the cane sound is superior from day one. I played and tested these reeds for a period of six months and I found what I think anyone who tries them for any length of time will find. They are simply not in the same place as cane reeds, for reasons of sound,response, longevity, and expression.

The reed you make yourself will be more difficult to make prior to getting what you want, but when you do and, you will, you will find the reed will last exponentially longer than any commercial product.
With three or a half dozen of these, you can play and practice and perform for a year or more, and be making more at the same time. It really is the classic win-win situation. Make your own. Plastic or synthetic are just that; not for making beautiful expressive phrases on the clarinet”.
best, always.
Sherman Friedland

“Full Boehm ,will one day rule the world”

October 21, 2006

The Full Boehm Clarinet seems to be enjoying somewhat of a renaissance amongst the clarinet students simply a repeat of what is circuitous . I’ve been noticing posts on other sites which seem to point to a key-adding trend beginning again, I mean by adding, more than the standard 17-6 arrangement. Full-Boehm consists of at least 20 keys and 7 rings, making Bb-Eb possible easily with the seventh ring as well as a G# which is articulated making it simple to play trills from f#-g# without the world of false fingerings, (read out-of-tune), and a world of other possibilities. For those interested it makes playing everything on one full-boehm clarinet possible and not having to switch to A clarinet, or a C instrument either.
The title of this article comes from a posting I saw on another website. Since I played full-boehm Selmer Mazzeo System clarinets for about 30 years, I thought it may be of interest to talk about this wonderful compehensive system of fingering.
Full Boehm has ruled the world prior to now, and may again as you say, one day.
I played full Boehm Mazzeo System(Selmer) clarinets from about 1959 until ca 1997 or so interspaced with everything else as well. I had a wonderful full boehm Buffet, brand new, and several sets of others as well. In Boston in the 50s and 60s virtually everyne played either full boehm selmers or the model 55 which was then played by Gino Cioffi, Principal in the BSO, who played a full boehm without the low Eb, which he considered to be better intune then the ful boehm and lighter, which it was in the latter but not in the former because the low E he always played quite flat, which would not have been the case had he had the low Eb. When the orchestra played Mother Goose, by Ravel, which they seemed to do every other week, there is a big clarinet solo that goes down to low E forte and we, all of the students used to wait with unholy glee for him to be flat on the note and he never disappointed.
Curiously,many wonderful young guys and girls played everything on one clarinet, a full boehm which made just about everything written playable on the one, including Peter and the Wolf, both for the main solo, and for the cadenza when the Cat Climbs Up the Tree. That was fun because it made one learn to transpose and once I played the Pines of Rome on the Bb clarinet, not the A for which it is written. With full-boehm Mazzeo System, it makes all of those large intervals much easier than the A. My clarinets, the Mazzeos system also had a covered thumb which many trills much easier and also covered the open sound of the g somewhat, and an articulation between the long B abd C# making it the same fingering as the B to C. In B to C one puts both little fingers down and picks up te b to get the c. On the Mazzeo system addition, one puts the B and the C# down simulaneously and then simply picks up the B, leaving a clean C#.
I often yearn for full boehm again. The criticism then was that they got out of adjustment, but I never found that the case, or perhaps I made it my business to make sure my business worked.
Full Boehm, we await thee for yet another coming.

Sherman Friedland

Beginning clarinet student….no sound

October 19, 2006

Dear Sir:

I teach elementary instrumental music. I have a student who is having difficulty making a tone on the clarinet. I have worked on his mouth formation/embouchure and airflow, and will sit down 1-1 to do more of this. He is using a “family” clarinet, and it is being serviced today, in order to check that it is not the problem. What I am wondering is if someone more experienced, who has gained some knowledge and tips, could let me know what his problem might be. I assume it has to do with airflow, but perhaps there are other reasons, or things that I am not picking up on.

Another few questions:

What should clarinettists do about building up muscle so that the corners of the mouth don’t tire and puff out?

Is it just more breath that will help students play the lower notes (i.e. low F)?
Thanks so much for your time!


The covering of the fingers should be done first with only the open G, no fingers required.
If there is no sound, the reed is either too soft, too resistant, or not centered on the mouthpiece.
The lips have little to do with it at this point.
Try to get the student to emit only the open g, using just a little support and no real lip pressure of any kind.
If he can get the g , you are in business. Proceed to the thumb only f.
Repeat these steps. Continue slowly down to the c, Make sure the students remembers
Again, only the very basic embouchure is involved, which is lower lip over the lower teeth, top teeth on mouthpiece, and slight smile on the mouth and lips. Jaw should be pointed down(really a later step).
Many young students bite so hard because they think they must blow hard, not the case, but difficult to fix sometimes.
Try just the mouthpiece and the reed, making a sound on just that much is relatively simple, certainly no fingers until sound is achieved., then proceed as above.

stay well, play well.