“Nice rapid light tonguing”

February 28, 2007

Dear Sherman,

I have become a huge fan of you and the work you do to help others. Now, I need help. I am a mature saxophone player converted to clarinet recently. I play in the local University Shmphonic Concert
Band. This semester, we are doing Barber of Seville which has uncovered a large problem for me. I can not tongue/articulate the parts at tempo. My tounging is clumsy – heavy and slow.
Could you suggest an approach to develop a nice light rapid tounging? I realize the handicap you’re
at without hearing/seeing me play, but my description is accurate when I say heavy and slow.

Thank You,
H B
——————————————————————–
Hi:
Thank you for writing in and for the comments.
A “nice light and rapid tonguing” is much easier to say than to develop.
Here are some tips which will help.
First, remember that the word staccato meanis separated, not short… and many people, when they see the dot take it literally and cut the note off. What is implied is the opposite. In order to achieve lightness and rapidity, try the following:
1. Practice the part with the best and smoothest and most connected legato you can muster. If the notes are repeated triplets, practice them legato,as a matter of real fact, it is good to practice with the opposite articulation.
The most support is necessary when you are using your tongue, really, and the least amount of the tongue is used to make the articulation, ind the lighter it is the better it is.
Do not use too much tongue on the reed, rather the smallest amount that you can rather than the most.
If the whole section is playing the same passage, then try not playing all of it, or tonguing all of it, but just go to get the contours of the line, and add the articulation gradually. It will not be noticed as long as you stay with the others in the section.
Do not play loudly, but instead use the support to keep the tongue moving. Loud always equals slow, lethargic. The clarinet in the concert band situation is too loud to begin with.
Think of melting in to the rest of the section, not sticking out. Play, play softer and listen to the others as much as is possible.
All of these things take time to understand and then to put into the clarinet, but they will without a doubt result in that rapid light tonguing of whish you speak.
Hope this helps.
best regards, Sherman Friedland

>

Advertisements

Dire problem with tonguing

February 27, 2007

Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2007 8:55 PM
Subject: Tounging frustration

My name is R P II and am a sophmore in high school. I was just recently informed that I tounge totally wrong. Instead of using my tounge I use shorter bursts of breath to make articulation on notes. Even though I have progressed very well throughout my years and have had a soft, round tone; I cannot shake knowing that I am doing something that is so fundamental, completely incorrectly. My teacher has been over the proper technique many times but I still am not doing it correctly. This frustrates me to no end because, try as I might, I am always clipping the notes in front of the not that I am trying to articulate. Of course this sound awful in a piece of music. Could you please give me some insight as to how I can break the “breath-tounging” technique and move onto the proper way of articulating?
——————————————————————–

Staccato:
The word means detached, not short. So conceptually, the idea must be not specifically technical, but musical, from the aspect of the sound. Every mouth is different as are teeth, lips and tongue. Stay on the side of the sound itself. Work from that aspect, for not only will it work for everyone, it will also make the student concentrate fully on exactly what is coming from the instrument.
1.Then start in the low register with articulation, for it is much easier, much more direct.
2.Always go very slowly, and keep the sound in mind. The tongue can be in a dozen different position depending upon your use of the language and the particular set of the student’s embouchure. This takes work and concentration, but almost always works:
3. take a note that is well liked, (usually because it always comes out well).
4.Place the tongue, the smallest amount possible at what is considered the tip of the reed and allow a bit of air to escape into the instrument (you will hear the air escaping).
5.Maintain the support you will need to play and remove more of the tongue until (usually suddenly), the sound will come. Basically, and in slow motion, this is correct clarinet articulation.
6.This should be repeated, but not so many times so that the student either loses concentration or her sound begins to suffer. One or two low notes at a time is fine until the teacher is sure the concept is correct. Keep the ratio of staccato practicing well below that of sound, five or ten minutes at a practice session is just fine.

When I was a beginning student, I progressed very quickly, mostly I think (now) because I imitated my teacher. But I did NOT place my tongue against the reed, for it sounded terrible, so I avoided it completely, and progressed very rapidly. It took me a year or two before I dared (after knowing I was playing incorrectly) to try correct playing. It was awful, but only for a little while. Remember, articulation comes last with the development of the young player, and if you practice your weaker aspect slowly, really slowly, it will become your strongest. I hope that this is a help. It has worked over and over again with literally hundreds of young students.
Sherman Friedland


Which to Buy: Leblanc Cadenza or Lyrique?

February 23, 2007

Subject: Clarinet Corner Query:
Hello. I have been clarinet shopping for several weeks now and am trying to make a final decision between a LeBlanc Cadenza and the Ridenour Lyrique, custom model. What insights can you share about these two clarinets? The clarinet that I am upgrading from is a 33 year old plastic Evette that I played for 13 years. Then I somehow took a 20 year break from clarinet and only took it up again last summer. I find I need a better clarinet. Thank you for helping out. ~Mary
——————————————————————–As to your question of which clarinet to buy, I suggest unequivocally that the Lyrique Clarinet by Ridenour is your absolute best buy. The reasons are quite simple and follow:

The Ridenour instrument has a musically designed bore which in simple terms, enhances the playing experience. It is an instrument wherein there are no difficult leaps or particular notes which are either stuffy or not intune.

The Leblanc Cadenza is just the same old clarinet with a new name costing a bit less money than their bigger, more expensive clarinets. It is at least twice as much to purchase than the Lyrique.

The Lyrique clarinet is made of hard rubber, a material much more equally responsive, dimentionally stable, and impervious to temperature fluctuation than is grenadilla wood. The sound is rounder ,darker in quality and more dependable than is any grenadilla instrument.

The Lyrique clarinet is personally set up by William Ridenour and then serviced by him .

I could go into more specifics, but we do have at last an instrument capable of the most subtle playing available at an affordable price and guaranteed by the designer himself.

I own a set of these instruments and play on them every day. I also have several Leblancs and a Selmer, all top of the line models. The Lyrique easily outplays them all .

Sincerely,
Sherman Friedland


More on jaw problems, Debussy, and clarinets

February 22, 2007

Hello, thank you very much for your reply. I recently have been attempting to perfect my embouchure, and my teacher has been steering me in the direction of a more “relaxed” position, but obviously I do not seem to be following this very well.
I had an appointment with an oral surgeon yesterday who informed me that my TMJ is due to a meniscus disc that is not aligned properly, which is basically what you told me in the information you sent on TMJ. He tells me that I should get an MRI to get an even better picture of the movement of my jaw as it goes from the open position to the closed position. From there, he did mention that I could probably get a bite plate made for my mouth.
I am right now playing on a Buffet E11 clarinet. Ironically, this week I was supposed to meet with my teacher and arrange to try out some Buffet R13’s because I was going to get a new instrument. However, this pain has delayed that process. Up until about a month ago, I played on a Vandoren 5RV13 mouthpiece with Vandoren V12 3.5 reeds. I got a new mouthpiece, the Vandoren M15, and moved down to Vandoren V12 3 reeds because I was not getting a clear and full tone with the 3.5s.
The Debussy HAS been a bit of a challenge… mostly with breath support and major pitch problems that my teacher felt were due to my intermediate clarinet. She had assumed these tuning problems would be fixed with a more professional clarinet. However, after 8 days of not playing due to the pain, I’m sure the Debussy will give me a whole lot more trouble and anxiety!
Thank you for all your advice! I am just hoping now that the clicking and soreness in my jaw will slowly go away on its own and will not return to destroy my practice time.
Again, thanks so much.
A

——————————————————————-
Hi A:
Make sure that you completely rest your mouth and jaw and then go back to playing, but only a bit at a timeI am happy that you were able to you use the information. Curiously, my wife , a pianist had the same problem, and the clicking went away, by itself, if I remember correctly, but it was a concern.
Now, here is some information that will give you or your teacher something about which to think:
Your student clarinet is perhaps not the problem, and it will not be solved by the purchase of an R13, which has a less than sterling reputation for tuning; actually, it is not good at all, varying from mediocre to downright terrible.
Tuning , good tuning can be controlled by the player to an extent. If the opening of the Debussy is not played well, and focused well, it will or can be out of tune.
One has to remember that the work was written as a Concours work, a work used by students to pass their examination, and Debussy did it magnificently, find every difficult problem existing on the clarinet and using it is a wonderfully musical way.
The cmpanion piece to it, Petite Piece, was for sight reading and it can be quite challenging , also living within the throat register of the clarinet.
For me, it is a work I play everyday, using it to try reeds on, playing the opening and the frst long solo is a wonderful test of a reed or a mouthpiece, for that matter.
Yes, I live with the work each day.
If you ask me, I will give you a list of instruments that play much better intune than Buffet R13, or even the Tosca.
But, only if you ask. And if you ask your teacher, she should be able to tell you how one controls intonation on the clarinet.
You sound as if you can understand the business of playing musically on the clarinet, which is, you are correct, not a business, but a distinct pleasure and an art, and a gift as well.
Best always,
Sherman Friedland


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

February 19, 2007

Hello,
my name is A and I am a junior in high school. I have been playing the clarinet seriously for about 6 years now and recently have been leaning towards majoring in music in college. This all seemed very reasonable to me, for I am involved in outside Wind Symphonies, orchestras, and have been working arduously on Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsodie, which I will be performing for with a piano accompaniment for New York State’s All State competition. However, in the past few weeks I have developed severe jaw pain and discomfort, and the clarinet makes it worse and almost unbearably sore. It began with a horrible clicking and a locked jaw feeling in which I could not open my mouth before hearing a large and painful clicking sound as my mouth disjointed and opened. For this past week, I have not played the clarinet and the pain has subsided to a lesser clicking with minimal soreness. My dentist ruled out wisdom teeth, and now I fear that this pain is only due to the clarinet and I will not be able to play anymore. This thought is so alarming and I am desperately looking for a solution to this problem. Is this common among clarinet players, or could I have already had a jaw problem that is only made worse because of the instrument?

It would be very much appreciated if any answers to these concerns could be addressed.
Thank you for your time.
~A
——————————————————————-
Hello A:
Well, you have come to the right place and I hope that I can help you with your problem.
First and foremost I can tell you something I learned many years ago: if we were meant to play the clarinet, perhaps we would have been born with it in the womb.
Ridiculous, but, there is a certain truth in it, for we are always dealing with our bodies, attempting to get into the business of getting by all of the problems and into the business of making beautiful sounds and music.
One of mine has been teeth, and it has been mine all of my playing career, because I did not have good teeth and did not know how to get the best advice for taking care of them.
I have had pain, work and work and more work and probably have improved to the point of knowing much about my mouth and teeth.
Not your’s mind you, mine.
Even a doctor cannot tell you exactly what is worng, if anything unless he is a clarinetist, and I am anot a dentisr, but I am a clarinetist, so I can offer my experience to you from which to learn.
You sound as if you know what “biting” is on the clarinet: pain in the lower jaw from not keeping your jaw down, or possibly taking in too much mouthpiece, or using reeds which are perhaps too hard.
You must first see to the alignment of your teeth and the nature of your bite. Are you or has your bite changed?
If so, that coud be it.
Some dentists make bite plates for their patients to sleep with at night, for many of us bite all night long in our sleep possibly causing damage and certainly pain.
Or this, from the net:
connects the jawbone to the skull, allowing the jaw to open and close when we eat, talk or yawn, for example. If the bite is off-centre, the jaw won’t be working 100 per cent correctly and you may hear it clicking, a bit like a door with a faulty hinge”.
This problem may arise when there’s been an injury to the jaw or if the teeth are damaged. Inflammation arises in the joint, making it painful when the mouth is opened and closed, and especially when chewing food. People who grind their teeth at night suffer with this problem too.

Or, you could have some kind of problem with inflammation which can be eased by by taking a couple of aspirin or advil, both of which helps inflammation.

Let me know what you are playing on, reed strength, mouthpiece and facng.

Are you having trouble with the Debussy?

That is a very difficult piece for endurance and only can be played well on a reed upon which you can sustain without biting or having discomfort. I play that on a very flexible and easy reed, and all of the notes come out, they must with ease.

Let me know if this helps

good luck.

sherman friedland


A Student Mouthpiece, one of the better,Fobes, Debut

February 17, 2007

Hi everyone:
I have perhaps a dozen Fobes Debut mouthpieces and they all play beautifully. In fact, I bought a Fobes San Francisco Model, beautiful, but no better than the Debut, and I would play a concert this evening on one. It is the best student mouthpiece, and perhaps the best mouthpiece I’ve known, and they are consistant and practically free.
As to clarinet, I played the Mazzeo system for more than 30 years, including Principal in a symphony orchestra (Milwaukee) and every piece of chamber music written at that time and I swear by the instrument, and yes I studied with him for 6 years. It is,was a great solution to many clarinet problems and did not raise any new ones…..save one: If you want try a few Mazzeo Clarinets to select one new, you cannot and could not do it, for Selmer was the only maker and not as many people played Selmer then, not as many as now. That the Principal in the Philldelphia Orchestra plays Selmer is truly extraordinary, in light of the recent past. But so too is Leblanc ,played by many great players. There was a time when only Bufffet was allowed/ anyway, the Mazzeo is an interesting horn, plays well, and the Signet was a good one. You can still see Selmer Paris instruments around, their value being mostly intrinsic.
For an investment, a bank is a neat safe idea, as a career, banking is also good. If you want to play the clarinet as a lifetime position…..gird your loins.
“Playing clarinet aint for sissies”, (a paraphrase of Bette Davis’ )”Gettin’ old aint for sissies”
.

Best always,
Sherman Friedland


John Corley, First High School Band Director, and the best

February 17, 2007

Hi Sherman, I read what you wrote about my grandfather John Corley. He was very dedicated to his dream. I started to play trumpet when i was 11 years old and became a soloist at my school in Quincy Ma. My brother David Started saxophone the year after and we both played solos, even duets. Our music teacher was Richard Strianno. then i went to middle school and me and my brother were the only ones who would memorize all the music. Everyone would be turning the page and me and David would just play on. I knew how to read the music. After playing it a few times, we would just have it memorized. thhen came High School, band wasn’t the biggest thing anymore, it was being a teanager, if you know what i mean. We were in the marching ban, our teacher was Bob Coviello, he was awesome, both of our music teachers knew grandpa, and they both loved us, i do wish that i payed more attention to music in highschool, during highschool i learned the electrical guitar, and i have been playing since, i have a harder time now playing guitar because i have a muscle disease, like M S. but it affects the peripheral nervous system. i can pick up my old trumpet and still play the first solo i ever played, just like it was yesterday, Well have to go now. John D. Corley IV
———————————————————————-
Hi:
And your grandfather was my very first band teacher and a great friend of mine and of all of the other musicians in Brookline High School. He was a great musician and taught us all about great music, more than probably any of the teachers that I have had and there is not a day that passes without me thiking of him. He taught me what to listen for in music and and he gave me one of the first jobs I had in music, for the Brookline Music School as registrar, and he was a family friend as well.
In band rehearsals Sally, his first wife would be there and he would blow and she would finger “The Carnival of Venice” trumpet solo and it was really thrilling.
I last played for him as soloist with the MIT band on a tour of Floridas in the 1980s and our first concert was in Titusville, Fla, and that was the day that the shuttle blew up on takeoff, the first night I played the solo part in the Bavicchi Clarinet Concerto, dedicated to me.
So, I have much to be thankful for in music because of your grandfather and his wonderful influence, going to Festivals and making what was really the best music I have known.
Good luck to you and in your music as well. There is always more to great music than there is in guitar. I hope you remain well with your MS, My wife has MD, muscular dystrophy.
We have four children all grown.
As I said I think of your grandfather every day. He was a great man.

best always,
Sherman Friedland