Gino Cioffis Clarinets, the last set, almost new

April 27, 2007

I have just acquired Ginos last set of clarinets: Selmer Paris, bore 55, matched set, q serial numbers, really exquisitely new case from the period, holds both the A and the Bb and 4 barrels, yet small and even thin.
Cioffi used the full boehm, minus the low Eb and played a special Obrien Crystal mouthpiece with his facing and signed by him and with his actual signature below. The keys haveno wear what so ever and is certainly the best looking set of clarints I have seen from the period.
There is a small crack right where you would think it would be between the first ring on the bottom joint, over the metal box which holds the articulated G#.
The 55 bore is quite familiar to me , and the A clarinet is really quite beautiful, the Bb needing some adjustment, upon which I will report when I get it sorted out.

stay well, all


Mazzeo Repair, repair persons

April 27, 2007

Professor Friedland,

I am a Mazzeo player from the 1960s with several Bbs (Series 9 and Series 10) and an A. I have taught college level applied students as well as a private studio and still play professionally.

I’m always a bit leary of any technician tinkering with the mechanism. The technician I had used for the past 10 years has decided to give up the repair business. He has no recommendations. Do you have any contacts with good technicians in the Southeastern states – preferably between Florida and North Carolina who are familiar with the Mazzeo mechanism?

Mazzeo day was always a full and very exhausting day for all of us who studied with him in seminar fashion, taking all of Saturday morning for all of us to play for him. He is the best teacher of the clarinet and the music for it that I have ever known and he was the most intense with the most expressive use of the language. The special area of expertise was orchestral decorum and perfect rhythmic interpretation. An ignored dynamic was an incorrect note, a pianissimo that was mezzo piano was unacceptable. Always, and he never erred.

I am sure the Donald will do well for you and I know that he stands behind his work and will get you what you need. He did one Series 10 Mazzeo which I used to demonstrate to my students at The Crane School of Music, and they were quite impressed, with both the sound and the Bb. And so too, was I.

Regarding your own Mazzeo clarinet, the heavy a2 is part of the mechanism which I had fixed by a very special young repairperson at Twigg Musique in Montreal, who passed away at an early age. He installed for me a special clutch on that very note that when disengaged would play like a regular 17-6. Donald Hinson probably knows of it, and may have overhauled it. Mr Huba owns it.
He may have figured the mechanism out, very small as it was, it was a great relief to me after Daniel(of Montreal) made it. The upper joint rings can be fixed by Donald. I think that there may be a couple of screws into posts that are too tight. Of course, without playing them I can not tell, and believe me, repairs are not interesting to me, When I played Mazzeos I did my own mostly and they were remarkably stable clarinets.
I am sure that one or the other of these gentlemen will be able to help.

Sincerely, Sherman Friedland

I would love to play a concert for you down at Brevard.

I last performed in Florida 1986 or thereabouts, I toured with the MIT concert band playing a clarinet concerto by John Bavicchi. The first performance was at Astronaught High School in Titusville on the night that the shuttle blew up. There was debris all over out motel roof

I do not think I could ever go back to a “regular” clarinet. When I had the opportunity last year to purchase another Selmer 10 Mazzeo (c. 1968) I jumped on it. My original is a Series 9 (c. 1965). I had the great distinction to talk very briefly with Mr. Mazzeo at the National MENC convention in Chicago around 1970. What a delightful and engaging man and what a joy (with pain if unprepared) it must have been to have lessons with him. I also had a “master class” private lesson with Gino Cioffi when I was a student at the University of Florida. Through his very broken almost non-English communication, he spoke so much to me about expression and technique. I treasure the signed picture that was taken with us playing together.

I have been in contact with Donald Hinson only because I found his name on your former website. He is most willing to help me out. My husband and I may be spending more time in NC and was really hoping that he would pan out.

I also will be in touch with Mr. Heimann. Of course my main concern is sending “my babies” off and then not being there to see if the fix has been done correctly. Gee, I wish I could heal my own. Any suggestion? The biggest problem is with the a2 not feeling like it is sealing correctly and the upper joint rings always being a bit on the “heavy high” side facilitate. Hope I’m making sense.

Thank you for getting back in touch with me so quickly,

Glad to know you and that you are a serious Mazzeophone player, (scarcer than hens teeth these days).
I know of two fellows ,both within your prescribed area. One is Paul Heimann who is in Russelville Arkansas. He has done several Bbs for me with excellent and very economical prices.
The other is Donald Hinson, has done a lot of work for George Huba, an avid collector of Mazzeo Clarinetswho collects the Mazzeo instruments.
Their emails are below. I would get in touch with them and see what the lay of the land is.
Donald Hinson
E-mail Address(es):
Paul Heimann
E-mail Address(es):


Gaston Hamelin, Ralph McLane, Harold Wright…remembered

April 21, 2007

Not a question just a comment and thanks for your insight etc… Mclane cd you mentioned is wonderful. I grew up listening to Brahms 3rd and 4th with Mclane and Philadelphia orchestra – they were recorded on 78. Still have them. Remember listening to those recordings and trying to figure out how he did what he did. I was fortunate to do some study with the late Harold Wright. After hearing the Mclane cd it is obvious that Harold was indeed a student that “got it” from Mclane.
thanks again.
You are talking about my two most esteemed clarinetists, period. You and I probably new all of the principals in the orchestras, and these people meant very much to me. There were of couse others, for I studied with both Gino Cioffi and Rosario Mazzeo, however it is always to Mclane and Wright to whom I turn for inspiration.
Do you know the story of Gaston Hamelin, who was Mclanes teacher?
He was principal in Boston and Mclane was studying with him.
He was playing the Selmer Silver plated Clarinet, really a great instrument, and Koussevitsky it is said, did not renew his contract in 1930-or perhaps 1931 because Hamelin refused to change to wood.
And so, he went back to Paris and Mclane went with him.
The only recording of Hamelin I heard was the Debussy Rhapsody, which I remember as being extraordinary.

Thank you for your note.

best wishes,

So, you broke your mouthpiece.A tragic Day?

April 13, 2007

Tragedy? Sorrow? Misery? A tragic day?

The aforementioned are what transpires when a loved one dies.
A mouthpiece is not a loved one, nor should it be.
It is a piece of equipment that fits on the end of a clarinet. It is very limited in dimensions though they can be crucial, however to break one or crack it is something that happens from time to time. You simply go to the next one.
You try to choose well, though most seem to be wanting to find the Holy Grail and there is simply no such Grail.
If there was, it would play every single reed that you ever try, every make, every strength, everything. And you all know how many times you say, “this is it”, and then three reeds later you are back searching.
Don’t .

Play music, practice, and try to learn all of the repertoire that you know exists. If someone turns around and says, “Hey, that was terrific”
Listen to him carefully. Did he sound like he knows?
Sherman Friedland

The Clarinet and False Teeth

April 13, 2007

Dear Sir
I read your questions and answers with great interest. I found your web site by typing in Clainet and false teeth so you can see where my question is leading!
I have been trying to play the clarinet for two years and loving it, however my false teeth are beginning to suffer! I am wondering if it is going to be possible to improve past a certain level and am I going to be restricted in my playing ?Is there anything that I can do to help myself.
I would be most grateful for your comments.
I think your web site is really good
Thank you
Dear M:
(I might preface this by asking you to define”a certain” level.
And I would continue by stating that a certain level is something to which we all aspire, and not to be put off from that level by something as mundane as teeth, having no talent or interest teeth are inanimate.Ear,Interest and desire, and perhaps talent to play music are much more important in the search for the level).

First, let me thank you for your letter concerning the clarinet and false teeth. It is an interesting topic, but there need be no great connection between the two. Moreso you should not be deterred in your clarinet playing by false teeth, for obviously one doesn’t blow with teeth. The teeth simply hold the mouthpiece in the mouth, either with the top teeth on the mouthpiece, or both lips covering, known as double lip embouchure, which is actually a more natural way of playing the instrument and it would seem to me, to be a more natural way of holding the mouthpiece.
I suppose that the greatest fear one would have would be the teeth moving while one plays, however you must determine if that is going to happen and to make sure that the fit of your teeth is tight enough to bear the intensity of holding the clarinet mouthpiece and reed in your mouth.
The mouth, whether or not you are using one of the two methods of holding the mouthpiece remains closed except when stopping for a breath, and I can envision no problem in playing with false teeth.
I would think that you would use a medium mouthpiece and a reed which has less resistance in order to develop sound and embouchure.
I myself have had a lifetime of difficulty with teeth in playing the clarinet and I would envision less difficulty with a good set of false teeth adjusted by an excellent condition who would be mindful of your problem,
In developing your embouchure I envision no more particular problems than playing with your “own” teeth for that matter, and I encourage your playing ambitions.


Selmer BT, time for a change?

April 8, 2007

Subject: Clarinet Corner Query:

I have played a Selmer Balanced Tone clarinet for many years, (in a variety of jazz groups), and love the big Selmer sound. But for many years I have had intonation problems with this instrument, (which, I was told, has a larger bore than later Selmer models); either this problem is becoming worse, or my ear is becoming more sensitive to it. The barrel that came with the clarinet is about a 67 mm, and is a little too long for me to tune to most bands. Some time ago I ordered a 65 mm Selmer barrel through a music store that assured me it would work with the Balanced Tone. Perhaps because of the newer barrel, the BT’s scale is now inconsistent—and many different mouthpieces, (and a few generic barrels), have not improved the horn’s intonation. Is there a solution? Or should I dump the instrument, and get a later model Selmer?
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Actually, with a clarinet played that much and so old, intonation can be getting worse, as the bore actually gets bigger perhaps, or certainly less well shaped. Clarinets do not appreciate, but they do get old, and many feel that ten or 20 years is quite enough, and will change.I do not feel that the sound of the Selmer is “big” or whatever size.
My suggestion would be to try a few instruments, take an hour or so and see if you hear and feel a big difference in what you try, expecially one for the better.
If you do, at that point it is time to consider getting a new instrument, and compared to the BT, the new selmers are really quite shockingly good, especially from the standpoint of tuning and sound.

Good luck, Sherman

Hard rubber, the best alternative to playing on cracked or soon to crack wood.

April 6, 2007

Hard rubber is a much better substance with which to construct a clarinet. It does not crack, and it is much more dimentionally stable than is wood, and will therefore be much less a problem of temperature changes.
If one had a nickel for every student that came for a lesson with a wooden barrel absolutely fused to the instrument because they bind after a couple of band rehearsals, one would be a wealthy person.

Some students have been advised to always keep the barrel pulled out in order to avoid this fusion. Honest.

Hard rubber, like wood grows on trees, but the difference in addition to those above , is the abundance of the available material.

It also sounds better, blends with other instruments better, especially string instruments. This has been my professional experience on a daily basis.

Finally, it is less than half the price of any Greenline clarinet, and suffers much less in terms of intonation.

Sherman Friedland

The Beethoven 6th Scherzo, how to conceive?

April 5, 2007

What follows is my reply to a student having great difficulties with this part.

Do use a metronome, but don’t change any equipment whatever you do.
The phrasing of your problem means to me that it is in your head in such a way as to become an obstacle, which this piece is not.
Without hearing you play, I would suggest that you simply listen to several recordings of it. You almost never hear the clarinet through the crescendo that the orchastra is making. The time is more important, that is the arrival at the cadence point with the others. Exactly at that point, which requires watching and keeping your time with that of the conductor and the orchestra, which sometimes can be at odds, one with the other. Keeping in time with the ensemble is most important.
Don’t make it a tonguing contest. That is not what playing music is about, ever.
Being comfortable with the ensemble in terms of time is most important, and the articulation will definitely come, much easier than you think.
When you say “I can’t play the Beethoven 6th Scherzo”, I say,” yes , you can”.
Even in your practice room, you must hear the orchestra and know as many of the other parts as possible. When you get into the group, you get used to them and it can be a wonderful experience, a kind of symbiosis takes place and all help one another.
As in many clarinet parts, your particular part is not what is most important. In the Beethoven, it is taking over the solo line from the oboe and then staying with the others and of course, the conductor. The staccato will come, of this be certain. Ask yourself, “what is the tempo?”
Then you are quite close to the achievement of you part.
Good luck.
Shrman Friedland

You’ll never know unless you try

April 5, 2007

I am a freshman in high school and have been playing for about 7 years. I have been very serious about it and want to be a performance major. I am one of the best players in my whole school district and in the county. My parents say it isnt worth it because I will never get anywhere. Is it worth it to even try?

Well, what your parents said to you is exactly what my parents said to me…..and I tried, and I have been playing for more than 50 years successfully. Not only that, but I made a vow to never stop trying.
It is always worth a try, and as they say, you will never know unless you do try.
best wishes, Sherman