The Thumb Saddle, a crucial piece of equipment from TR.

One of the more or most important aspects of learning the clarinet, and even performing after learning it is the position of the right thumb. This is the thumb which bears most of the weight of the instrument, and its positioning is crucial to success. Typically the thumb should rest directly on the lower half of the thumbnail and partially on the knuckle under. There can be minor differences but that is the generally accepted position and the results of bad positioning can be ruinous to the development of both technic and embouchure. Holding the clarinet further toward the joint will lead to very poor placement for fingering and can impede embouchure development. Many students experience discomfort in the right thumb and contrivances which help one hold the instrument are in fashion, consisting of a sling,looking like a saxophone neck strap but holding the weight of the clarinet. While one supposes that can be helpful, my clarinet study was always based on correct holding of the instrument. Nowadays, many are into ergonomic positioning of the clarinet through the use of a sling or strap, however my personal opinion is that this is not necessary.
For many years I have covered the thumbreat with a piece of pliable material such as leather or sometime a sleeve which can be cut from a commercial milk container and works very well.
Now, there is a whole array of different gadgets that ameliorate the holding of the clarinet while ameliorating the weight of your pocketbook at the same time.
The particular thumb rest which I find the finest is also the leat expensive to buy: the Ridenour Thumbsaddle, which will set you back all of 10 dollars. Made of a soft piece of rubber which hugs the clarinet and slips directly over your current thumbrest, it is very comfortable. Not only that, it help to open the hand, allowing for a better technical facility. Since receiving mine a couple of days ago I find many passages much easier to negotiate consistantly and in general, more comfort in the entire hand and wrist and embouchure.
I cannot recommend it more highly. It does an important job, assisting the player in every way without costing a fortune.
It is possible to learn to play and to perform without stopping at the bank first.Of course, it follows the Ridenour principle: Play correctly on acoustically correct equipment and you will learn correctly and much more quickly

Good luck.

Sherman Friedland


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