The Emperor’s New Mouthpiece/ANew Year’s message

December 31, 2006

Have any of you read the fairy tale.”The Emperor’s New Clothes”?

If not, or if so, I humbly suggest that all read this wonderful story for it is true of every new clarinet product that is made or exists. Matter of fact, read it every day.
For proof, I request that all posters on this or any other site retry their new stuff in three or four days and then write a follow-up.
Mind you, I do not think that anything dishonest is being perpetrated by the makers of all of these things, merely excellent salesmanship.

To give you an example, may I use a very close friend?

He purchased a mouthpiece made for him from one that he had chanced upon, and copied by this maker, a respected seller.
It played well, but so too had the mouthpiece he had received in a trade.
It was a very covered sound and one that he preferred, having been for years a light and bright-toned player.
Then after a while, he found the measurements and sent them to a friend who is truly a mouthpiece expert.
He replied that these numbers were the same as the facing of the mouthpiece purportedly used by a legendary clarinetist.
He didn’t say, “good, bad or indifferent”, just stated those numbers and the similarity.
As soon as my friend received his information, he started playing so well , really, and at his years, with more than 50 in the business, that is saying something, don’t you think?

Anyway, I wish you all well, and save your money, take care of your teeth, and your chops. Oh yes, practice, and take all auditions. All.

best for the New Year.

Sherman Friedland


Gino Cioffi, Mozart with Boston

December 29, 2006

Maybe you can help. Many years ago I heard a tape of Cioffi doing the Mozart Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He put in a wild cadenza in the 2nd mov. Nothing to do with Mozart but still great fun !!! Do you know where I could get a copy of that tape? Or a CD burnt from the tape? I would pay about anything for it. I heard it probably 40 years ago at O’brians shop in Indianapolis. I have nearly all of his chamber stuff along with the BSO recordings.
Cioffi was and still is my favorite clarinet player. No one has ever sounded quite like him.
Many many thanks
Hi, and thank you for the memories because I was present at the performance,studying with Cioffi at the time, and I agree with you totally and of course I have never ever forgotten that show.
Certainly ,he was one of the most gifted of all clarinetists.

Now, the recording you heard was something that was either broadcast or just taken in some other way because I do not think that there was an RCA recording of it, or Deutche Gramaphone or whatever they did then, and I do not have it, but let me see if I can find it from one of the folks on the site.Actually,I would love to have a copy myself.Best wishes for the New Year.
Sherman Friedland


A new Clarinet that doesn’t play. Upgrade could be downgrade

December 26, 2006

Subject: Received new clarinet and can’t play altissimo-HELP!

Dear Mr. Friedland,
Greetings. I have picked the clarinet back up after 20 years. I had been practicing on my old junior high band Vito clarinet and having success “breaking in” to playing again. I received an Amati 314 for Christmas this morning and can barely get the horn to play above clarion A- Especially the B and C. I thought upgrading to a nice new instrument would help improve and ease my playing, not make it more difficult. I’m just not sure if the problem is the horn itself or if it lies between the reed and the seat. I’m using a Rico 2.5 reed and the mouthpiece that came with the instrument.
Thank you so much for your attention and while I have it could you also suggest a good method book for an adult “re-beginner”.

Hi S.H.
My very first inclination for this morning after you received your Amati clarinet is that you should find whomever gave it to you and ask them to return the clarinet so that you may choose another, either another Amati,or a clarinet with a better reputation for consistency, for instance ,Yamaha, all of which play. Or, if you purchased it yourself, you will find the line for returned Amatis fairly short,or your internet dealer cooperative
Second, it is a well known fact that mouthpieces that come with clarinets, especially clarinets of questional provenance, are really not to be kept, but given, or better yet ,thrown away.
Yes, there are exceptions, however you have indicated to me that it could be a bad mouthpiece, crooked, warped or what have you.
So, right now, you have those two choices which you may accomplish in ways available to you.
Other than that, I would recommend that you may wish to start your renaissance of the clarinet in your life with a better reed. A bit stronger, or one of those nice reeds from Argentina or Australia, which seem to be made from a better cane than the brand you are using now.
Hope this helps in some way.
The KLOSE book is one of many suggestions I could make. Get the full edition, as it includes much good material.

Happy new Year.
Sherman Friedland

New Clarinetist learning to tongue.

December 19, 2006

I have recently started learning how to play clarinet.I am familiar with music notes because I can play another instrument ,but whenever I want to practice tonguing in different notes and play a song ,I either run out of breath or produce a squeak sound. Could this be because I just don’t have enough breath to play this instrument or I need to practice more or use new methods to fix this.
Your question is interesting because there are so many players of varying degrees of competence who share the problem.
I think that the answer is no on both problems, as you ask them.
If you are not planning on anything but to be a fine amateur clarinetist, that is fine, and it is easily done.
There are many different aspects of starting the tone properly with the tongue on the clarinet.
Many of these are fully discussed in my large website. I have spent many hours both learning the craft and thinking about it, and I would suggest that you read through all of these articles.
Reeds themsevles are a basic issue and take a while before you and your embouchure know what you are doing.
Placement of the tongue and releasing the air into the clarinet allowing the reed to vibrate is another, most crucial and not coming immediately but only after considerable practice doing it.
The best general advice I can give you is to always be very judgemental of your playing and especially the way you start and stop the sound on your clarinet.
Listen very carefully and always go by the sound, which ultimately must come immediately and without noise of any kind, but as previously stated takes a bit of time and, in many cases comes easier with a clarinetist for a teacher to help guide you.
After reading as much as you can concerning methods of tonguing, go ahead and try, but you must be self-correcting and that is diffuclt to achieve.
Good luck to you.
Sherman Friedland

Thoughts on good intonation, the illusion thereof.

December 18, 2006

If two players are playing a unison and one is in tune and the other flat, they are both out of tune.
That is the simplest way to say that the ability to change ,sometimes imperceptively is absolutley incumbent in a good player, and the first thing that comes to mind in an ensemble.
There is no such thing as being perfectly intune, for that is but an illusion, the illusion however being most important to playing in any kind of ensemble, from a piano with clarinet, to a great orchestra with an entire woodwind section. It is an illusion.
The first question is, what exactly is the pitch of the A and does it change during a rehearsal or a performance?
The answer is unquestionably, whatever the ensemble establishes as it’s A and the constantly changing temperature of the rehearsal or concert hall.
But in a practical sense, how do you choose your partners in an ensemble, or are you chosen through an audition or, perhaps even a phone call?
You choose an oboist for your quintet because he or she plays intune or with a center of pitch that is similar to yours, and you do it usually by having played or performed prior to the audition or the first rehearsal.
I do respect all of the ways of fixing and establishing intonation through all of the various tomes written, however there is not a book or a particular “way” that will lead one to good intonation.
One must know how the other plays in relation to pitch.
This of course, is the biggest reason for players to aspire to a great or very good orchestra. There, these kinds of problem have been solved by the process of competition and then ,elinimation.
Upon winning an audition one can look forward to playing Ein Heldenlenben or Sacre with little difficulty.
Hardly a solution, you say, and I agree, however it is the way of the musical world and why the wonderful players play so well…intune, and everything else.
For some, it comes very easily, for the ear is magic in the brain of one who simply does it. The quest for a good sound is solved and with it, the intonational problems that one faces on the way.
Although I have had a teaching career teaching certain methods using certain books, the young player who can play is so gifted. Don’t dismiss me quickly for that is my experience for many years.
One can site example after example of certain clarinetists, very well known for their recital playing who have not been hired during a trial week or two in a solidly disciplined orchestra, or who have, then been dismissed when refusing or being unable to adjust to the other principals who have played together for years.
In my own recital playing I learned that there was a certain tuner of pianos, a simply great one, who tuned for me. He would get with me prior to the first rehearsal or perhaps during same and make both notations and comments to us both, and yes, he would tune for me. I am not sure how beautiful lor ugly the intonation was, however it was a pleasure to play with a piano that GL tuned.
Was it for me, or did I play well enough intune for him to tune the piano, for he refused many?
I cannot remember the amount of change in the A there was during a performance of the Boston Symphony, however the figures were truly staggering. And yet, that is one of the orchestras that plays superbly intune.
I still feel it is but an illusion,roughly analagous with “depth of field” in photograhy, that amount of the photo that is clear enough to be called clear and distinct.
Just a few stray puffs to think about.

Happy Holidays,
Sherman Friedland

The Ridenour Barrel

December 14, 2006

Tom Ridenour has several different sized barrels which are both beautiful in sound, attractive, and quite economical.
What I like very much is the sound which is nothing short of being simply mellow and correct, and very well intune. In addition they are made from hard rubber, a superior material, especially for the barrel of the clarinet, any clarinet.
Because rubber changes so much less in varying temperatures and not at all in size. Just think of your own barrel if you play perhaps 10-12 hours each week in band, orchestra and/or concert band. If I had a nickel for every student who came in for a lesson with a barrel melded to the instrument, I would be a rich man. Or, what about the student who leaves his or her barrel pulled out so that he or she can be reasonably assured that it will not become one with the top joint?
This does not occur with a rubber barrel. And the rubber has an excellent dark sound, and compared to some of the barrels for sale, it is “for free”.
I’m not going into bore measurements or taper. What matters is how the thing plays, and this barrel plays beautifully.
What I like about the appearance is that there are rings around each end that have a kind of antique look, without being made out of costly cocacola wood or whatever it’s called. And, it is dimentionally stable, as I’ve intimated, and exotic wood is not .
Frankly I wish Ridenour would make a whole horn out of this attractive ivory-ringed material, looking better than the copacobana wood, and costing a fraction of the price.

sincerely, Sherman Friedland

Full Boehm Clarinet

December 12, 2006

Dear Professor Friedland

I came across the above listing offered for sale on ebay and was
interested in knowing why this particular LL would have the extra
keys and rings. I understand the advantage to the one extra key but
not the extra rings. Was this a particular model of LL they made? I
had never come across a configuration like this.

Also on the matter of cracks, if you are looking at a used instrument
in general if its a very good horn and the crack has been repaired do
you pass on it? Or in general how risky is it to purchase an
instrument with a repaired crack. I do own a Selmer Alto Clarinet
with this situation, a crack that had been said to have been repaired
when the instrument was fairly new. From the 1920’s or 30’s, has
been overhauled and seems to play well at this time.
Thank you

this particular confuiguration of keys on a clarinet is usually called Full Boehm and has just about every possibly arrangment and amount of keys possible on a boehm instrument. Actually it has usually 23 keys and 7 rings.
There are many players who use this configuration in certain areas of the world. I have found many players from South America play full boehm and also that many players from Italy as well.
It simply allows one to play in different keys on the instrument with less difficulties than with the plain boehm.
There are some who play everything on th one clarinet because with the full boehm configuration there is virtually nothing that is impossibly difficult in principle. Of course, with the extra keys and ring the clarinet may tend to get out of adjustment more easily that the plain boehm, however this is more perception and a reflection of bias than anything else.
The clarinet also tends to be more expensive to purchase as well,though the used market is less so.

Cracks are another story and can always open up and give one difficulty, but in truth they do not, especially if one has the crack repaired properly and during that time of the year when the crack ios as closed as it will be; pinning it then is preferable and must be done in a professional manner.

Stay well and enjoy the holidays,

sincerely, Sherman

Relaxation while performing

December 12, 2006

Hi Sherman,

I think it’s wonderful to have the Clarinet Corner as a source of helpful information for young avid clarinetists like myself. However, I’ve just been wondering, are there are useful tricks to help relax before you play? I’ve always been astounded at how relaxed Karl Leister looks when he plays in some of the Berlin Philharmonic video broadcasts on youtube. I’ve experienced this type of relaxation very rarely and have noticed how nicely I sound. I would like to cultivate this sort of relaxation so I can play like that all the time! I just don’t know where to start…I’ve read in “The art of practicing” by Madeline Bruser to do stretches and deep breathing. I have a good embouchure, posture and equipment, but I just don’t feel relaxed physically. I think it could be because I don’t take as many little breaks as I should…. Thank you for your time.

Hi O:
Thank you for your comments concerning the Clarinet Corner and for your letter.
Relaxing while performing has actually two or three aspects.
One is the performance and looking relaxed, not moving unusually, keeping facial expressions regular and not attracting attention to your playing except for the music itself. This can be achieved while at the very same time, you may be experiencing great difficulties, which may never be imparted to those who are watching and listening to you perform. Your job is to perform the music, through the vessel, the clarinet you have chosen to play and to not draw attention to yourself, only the music.
You must first achieve the appearance of being in control of the music.
Second, is the actual feeling and sounding relaxed while you play and that may come a long time from appearance to really feeling relaxed and able to do anything you have chosen to do while you play. I have found that this comes only after having performed many many times in different curcumstances. The unexpected always happens when you play and you must never show the unexpected through your playing.
As you learn how to appear in control the actual feeling of relaxation begins to come, and with some, it remains a real difficulty,however to repeat, first you act and look and try to play as if you are very much in control, and then after many repetitions and experiences, you learn to actually be relaxed when you play. Experience is the best teacher, rehearsing very carefully prior to performance so you know what to expect.
I always go through my playing deciding where possible trouble spots may lie and make sure that I am prepared for any eventuality and they always happen, but you are so prepared you just do it, do it well, and it looks and sounds relaxed. the greates compliment I have ever had occurs when the comment is: you sound as if the music is coming directly through you and that the instrument only happens to be there.

Hope this helps.

best for the holidays.


The Choice between Centered Tone and Series 10

December 6, 2006

Dear Sir-
I am currently searching for a good, professional level wood clarinet for my girlfriend for Christmas. She has played a vintage LeBlanc all through school and college and plays everything from jazz to classical. The LeBlanc was borrowed from an aunt and she had to return it after graduation and hasnít had the money to buy a new horn. Iíve found two clarinets that Iím looking at seriously, both fully refurbished (corks, premium pads, wood treated, springs, keywork cleaned and buffed, and play tested). One is a Selmer Paris Centered Tone which has two flush bands on the upper joint and two repaired cracks on the bell, but I have been assured that it is tight and plays great. The other is a Selmer Paris 10 which has one repaired crack in the bell and is otherwise perfect. The 10 comes with a Gregory Smith mouthpiece which is an ďold chedeville style w/ 1* facingĒ. The CT comes with a mouthpiece as well- not sure what (probably Selmer Paris HS*). My questions are:
Which horn would be a better fit for what Iím looking for?
How will the Selmer Paris be compared to a LeBlanc of the same era as far as adjusting to the new horn?
Will the Gregory Smith mouthpiece be a good fit for the Series 10 for an all around setup?
———————————————————————-Of the two Selmer Clarinets you mention, I would unquestionably recommend the Series 10. It is a better, smaller bore than the Centered Tone, which generally has developed a reputation as being good for playing jazz, though it is a good clarinet and I played a set of them for years playing nothing but orchestral and chamber music.
The Series 10 is more like the Leblanc she has been used to and it is generally considered to be one of the first of the smaller bored Selmer instruments.
I have played several of these instruments and am playing on one presently, while I also have a 10s, which is a trifle less bright sounding than the 10.
The other issue is the cracks, which really can give you difficulty at any time depending upon where you live in the climate and /or the time of year in which it was banded, something of which you do not know. This can be a long story, so the choice is quite definite in my mind.
So, all in all, go with the 10.
As fars as the mouthpiece is concerned, they are all quite different, one from the other, same brand, facing, etc, so you will have to make that decision.

Sherman Friedland

Mazzeo Clarinet Fingering (s)

December 5, 2006

Dear Sir; I have a Mazzeo Clarinet which dates back to around 1970. I am in need of the alternate fingering chart and also do you have a source where I could get the silver pin that locks puts it back into regular playing? Thanks for your time.
Hi Ben:
There is no alternate fingering chart necessary, which is the beauty of this system. There are no alternate fingerings.
Here is how it works:
The system features a simple way(s) for playing the throat Bb, widely reputed to be the most difficult note on the clarinet to play well ,clearly and in tune.
It uses the third trill key, which lifts when you play the A spatule and any combination of fingers, or even a single finger which opens the A spatule, giving you of course, the throat Bb with the best possible fingering for it on the Boehm clarinet.
First, for an example, play the open g on the clarinet, next playA on the a spatule (a) as it is called. Now you want to play Bb and then the note F a perfect fifth above. You play the A as stated, the Bb with the a spatule and the first finger of the right hand which is three-fifths of the fingering for the following note, F, as we’ve said.
You finger the note Bb with as much of the fingering of the note that follows the Bb while playing the Bb, making the legato almost sure to be perfect, and you reverse the process descending. It may be confusing to read but simply practice it and it will come, much more easily than fingering each note and then suddenly having to add five or six fingers at once.
That’s all there is to it. You will find that when you release the Bb, you must bring your fingers up with clarity and quickly or else you will get an additional blip in the sound.
That is of course, if your clarinet is adjusted properly. As far as a “source” for the pin that changes the clarinet from Mazzeo System back to regular boehm, there is none as far as I know, however I would suggest to you that virtually anything that general size that will fit can be used easily and efficiently. Of course, someone somewhere will be happy to customize one for you.
Good luck..
Best regards for the holidays.
Sherman Friedland