More on jaw problems, Debussy, and clarinets

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.

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


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