I received a nice note from a fellow who writes to me frequently about a newer mouthpiece-maven, who purportedly makes a mouthpiece that is similar to the old Chedeville mouthpieces, the same material so-to-speak, and supposedly capable of producing “more resonance”.
Will someone please inform me of what this means? Or don’t bother, simply listen to my story:
As a young clarinetist I progressed quite rapidly, and was able to play the Debussy Rhapsody after a year of lessons. ( I don’t know what it sounded like, but I could play it) I was always asked to play first clarinet ior principal in whatever ensemble I was in, and I becamse almost obsessed with music. It was learning music, simply all the time, along with and through the clarinet.
Back to the Holy Mouthpiece, I must have played several hundred coming to the place where I find myself. I mean 3 or 400 mouthpieces. I was never actually trying a mouthpiece or finding a maker to make me something so that I could play better than anyone or would have a special quality of resonance unheard of in the world as it was then.
No mouthpiece, no clarinet, no ligature can get you to play Daphnes and Chloe, or the Scherzo from the Midsummers Night’s Dream, or the Galanta Dances, or the Bartok Contrasts
But, you know I learned to play them all,and many times at that.
I am further lucky enough to have recorded almost every performance I have played, and there are more than 250 recordings, and I do not know upon which mouthpiece I played. I really do not.
Some of the recordings are really excellent, and some are less than excellent, but they are all there, in my basement, where I have spent the last few years converting them all to Compact Disc.
Let us talk about mouthpieces: There is no magic bullet, not one, not Hyundai, or Chevrolet, or Buick or even Mercedes, Lexus or even Rolls Royce. Not one that will make you sound better. (You may think you sound better, after having spent five hundred dollars….but if not, you are banging your head against a wall, or deluding yourself.)
What there are, what there is, is MUSIC. There is so much music, so many pieces involving the clarinet, it really boggles the mind.
What our job is, is to learn this music, as much as we possibly can, and then find performances.And then, ask people to write you more pieces. That is quite enough.
Get the piece, learn it, and then get a gig playing somewhere, which is about all anyone can do.
Please take me seriously, forget about those 500 dollar becs, that come with no fries, and not even a frijole.
Learn every piece , every one, get scores, learn parts, and perform, perform, perform. That is what my goal has been for more than 60 years, and brothers and sisters, it works.
Play well, stay well, and good luck.
sincerely, Sherman Friedland