The Band Program, and a new clarinet

March 2, 2007

Dear Professor Friedland:
I currently participate in my school’s band program. But I have to admit that I’ve lately become discontent with how the course progresses and I’m wondering if the band is benefiting myself as a musician. My discontent stems a lot from how our band doesn’t have tryouts. This leads to a larger community but also to freindly chatter and a substantial group of people who simply don’t care to play music. This also led to a weaker section in the thirds and thus our band director tried to remedy this by staggering the seating. I was assigned a third part and I feel it poses little technical difficulty after playing 1st for the previous year. We’re working on pieces such as Symphonic Dance No.3 and the Florintiner March. Do you think staying in band is helping me as a musician? Could 282 hours every year be used more constructively?

I also recently bought a Yamaha Custom (YCL-CSG I believe). A nice man named Emilio Lyons at Rayburn’s’s Music Store in Boston helped me pick it out. I like the instrument but I was wondering if you had any personal experience with the instrument?
———————————————————————-Not only do I know Emilio Lyons, bu have know him for years, You probably have a wonderful clarinet, as that Yamaha model is excellent and capable of all performance, really an excellent instrument.

Your frustration in the band is understandable, and I would suggest that you determine from the director himself if something can be done to make you happier.

I have no idea of how good a player you are but you will know how he feels about you in that capacity when you talk to him.

If he cannot help you, it is up to you to practice and ask to play for him again to prove how well you are doing and how much you care about the music and of course, his program.

His is a difficult job trying to keep everyone as members as well as attempting to help those players who want to do more difficult or challenging music.

Try to understand his problem, and hopefully he will attempt to understand yours.

best wishes,
Sherman Friedland

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When to try a new mouthpiece, and what to expect?

March 1, 2007

An important fact in changing mouthpieces is that the new mouthpiece will only play the way it does for one time, especially if you feel as if you’ve reached Valhalla. the end to the problem of mouthpieces. Don’t believe it, for you ,and your embouchure are playing the new mouthpiece as you did the one you have just left and been playing for as long as you have.
Only during the next time you play the new one will you begin to determine its qualities and how you are beginning to acquaintance yourself with them.

So, as to a new mouthpiece, my suggestion is to change only when your mouthpiece isn’t allowing you to play , find reeds, make your sound, and play in tune.

Otherwise you are simply swapping one set of variables for another, which can be fun if you’ve achieved your technique, but can be a slippery slope if you have not, leading to preoccupation with trying “one more”.

There are only a few so-called craftsmen who really have the hands, ear and the sensitivity, and are not just sellers of Zinners, practically untouched.

There is a wonderful chapter in William Ridenour’s “Educators Guide to the Clarinet”, which goes into mouthpieces very simply and comprehensively and can save the reader time and money and bring understanding to the effects of the various aspects

Play well,and stay well.
Sherman Friedland