Stravinsky Three Piece for Bass,A, and Eb clarinet?

August 30, 2007

Dear Mr. Sherman,
Just red some of your comments in web which makes me asking you something about Stravinsky, The Three Pieces: how do you find the idea of playing it with bass clarinet first movement (obviously transposed), 2nd with A clarinet and the last one with E flat?
I’ve been playing it a lot in the original version and soon I’ll have a recital in Romania, so it came into my mind this version. The recital includes Bach-cello suite no 1 with Bass clarinet, Jarrell’s Assonance, Telemann-2. Fantasia for E flat clarinet (orig. flute), Stravinsky and Wayne Siegel- Jackdaw for bass clarinet and computer.
Looking very much forward for your answer and sending you best regards from Hungary!
Horia Dumitrache
Dear Horia Dumitrache:
Thank you very much for you inquiry concerning the Three Pieces for Clarinet by Stravinsky.(Just between friends, i understand the ides of playing it on three different clarinet, however I do not think this is what I.S. had in mind)

This is a work I have played many times and is a favorite , and a work which I studied with Mlle Nadia Boulanger who was dear friend of Stravinsky and who gave me many incites into the work. Having said that, I must say that I think your idea of playing the pieces on three different clarinets, Bass, A, and Eb is a terrific idea, for which I applaude you. I think that Stravinsky himself might approve of it and would hope to be able to hear you play it in this novel, musical and interesting manner.   It may be  a perfect idea for your interesting recital. I used to play as much Stravinsky as I could lay my hands on, and might mention, “Epitaphium for the gravestone of Max von Egon zu Furstenburg”for flute and clarinet, “The Ebony Concerto”, “Elegy for JFK” for three clarinets, and The Songs of the Cat, and “The Shakespear Sngs” for Soprano, flute, viola and clarinet to say nothing of L�Histoire, both versions, and that nice and clever “Ragtime” work for 11 instruments which includes the marimba-type instrument which I think is popular in your country .

best of luck on your performance.



The Throat when we play, what happens?

August 26, 2007

dear Sherman Friedland

I have a problem with my larynx.
I think i make an effort sometimes with the larynx and
I would like to know the reason to this and if it is connected to support and if there is any solution

thank you very much about listening..(clarinetist from Israel)


You are speaking about one of the most complex of human actions concerned with playing the clarinet. Its complexity is caused by the fact that few know exactly what happens in the larynx or throat when a clarinetist or any kind of wind instrument player plays. We speak about opening the throat or closing it when we wish to exercise certain sounds, certain registers, certain leaps while playing, and most of the actions we take in order to play, especailly in a musical manner, we cannot pinpoint exactly, mostly because it happens internally and it is usually taught by listening to our teachers play or someone whom we admire. The more sensitive the kind of playing we hear and wish to execute, the more changes, some infinitely small, we make. And we are taught not to move any more than is necessary, because if we move our embouchure, including the larynx, we distort the sound. So, it is a matter of sensitivity, and most probably it is different with each clarinetist as he or she learns their craft. Finally, yes, certainly it is associated with support, though not independant.If one plays a chromatic scale legato, certain changes take place in the throat. There has not been enough tangible research to say exactly what. I believe that the actions of the throat have a great deal to do with the sound we make and the kind of phrasing,as it is called we make. I also believe that without this sensitivity, indeed this movewment, the sound of the clarinet is rather uninteresting. Naturally, I would have to see you, the player and observe as I listen. Without this, it is difficult to be specific.
A good question to ask yourself when you play is what does the sound I am making tell me? Do I approve of this slur, this passage? If I make a change of some sort, what is the change and does it please my ear?
I hope that I am not being too general, for this is a subject that interests me considerably, as I have spent a lifetime in listening to exactly what the sound is saying as I play.
So, if this helps in some small way, I am happy.
Good luck.
sincerely, Sherman

The functions of the two barrels on the Selmer 9

August 26, 2007

Dear Mr. Friedland,
I’m 67 and have been playing the clarinet on and off all my life as a good amateur, never having a first class instrument. I’ve recently got a Selmer Series 9 with a fine tone (and Ive got rid off some rattles) Can you explain the point of the two barrels. I can see that ambient temperature is involved and other players tuning (unfortunately I’m not playing with brilliant players here), but is the self tuning of the instrument involved. I play a lot by myself eg Bach violin music. My instrument seems to have a sharp Bflat Throat, and a flat B natural semitone above, and I am not happy with intonation in the B scale, and can’t sort it. Also I find that in the very top register where there are alternative fingerings, which intonation sounds best depends on the key ot the music. Is this as it should be – I hope I’ll come across someone with experience locally to listen. Are enharmonic changes involved here? I admire your taking time to help people. Best wishes, Andrew. Dorset England.
fFrst, the point of the two barrels on your Series 9 clarinet is for slightly changing the pitch as they are of different sizes, varying by a couple of millimeters. But this change is very small indeed, and the change occurs closest to the barrel. In the second register the longer barrel will bring down the high c and the high b. The throat Bb is always sharp and thin,the reason being that the hole that is vented serves two purposes: to make the Bb and to change the register. You can temper the sharpness considerably and make sound improve by adding two fingers. the second and third on the left hand. Try the Bb without them and then add them while playing the note and you will hear it well. The middle B is flat because the bell ring on your clarinet keeps it from vibrating, and also because you problably hold the instrument between your knees, which flattens the b somewhat.if you support your clarinet on your knee, it is even flatter. The low e is similarly flat, about which one can do nothing save playing the note very softly .
The newer selmers are tuned better, these problems having been successfully allieviated. Some of the most expensive instruments made have these very same problems.
A combination of your really good ear and knowledge of the clarinet and its acoustics will be able to help.
best wishes,

Pete Fountain Clarinet

August 14, 2007

Dear Mr. Friedland:
Where would you recommend getting a value estimate for a clarinet? I have a vintage (gently used in excellent working condition) LeBlanc Pete Fountain clarinet. I also have the very cool leather case it came with. I paid $800 for it several years ago and I would like to resell it, but I want to be educated about its value before I set an asking price. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

-S N
Hello S.N.

“Peter Fountain” Leblanc Clarinet is in considerable demand on the used market. It equals Selmer Centered Tone in popularity and sales. It is called a “large bore” instrument, and is popular in Jazz.

My suggestion for an attempt to derive a sale would be to go to the ebay site, and look at the Leblanc listings. They will give you approximate pricings of these instruments, especially if you find a Pete Fountain model.
Then it is only left for you to determine how and if you wish to auction the instrument. This takes some experiece, but since the instrument is in demand, you should do well.

Good luck.

Sherman Friedland

” Peter and The Wolf”, Prokofiev

August 11, 2007

When you sit down for your first rehearsal for “Peter and The Wolf”, the most famous childrens work by Sergei Prokofiev, it really doesn’t matter which edition you are playing. The librarian will have put the part into your folder and the conductor chose the edition. You have but one task: to play the Cadenza with perfection.
Your preparation of the cadenza and indeed, of the entire part is a bit of work but a great opportunity to put all of those scale methods to superb use.
In preparing this group of ascending triplets, one first must learn the notes perfectly by playing them slowly and marking in all fingerings. Then , begin to practice them as triplets, placing strong accents on the first note as if it were the first note of a triplet (instead of the third). After you have worked out all of the fingerings and practiced them, change the fulcrum to the actual triplet formation itself, as written, which brings a different note for accentuation, then change the accent to the second note, bringing still a different accent point. In this manner you are really practicing stressing all of the notes, which should bring about total eveness, which is the point. Do not add the accelerando until you have practiced it in this manner and can play it “cold”. Then begin to practice the accelerando. Always at this point, stop prior to the grace notes which ascend ending on the final perch of the cat.
Now, when practicing the grace notes, which are difficult, remember first the function of the music: it is where the cat actually jumps up into the limb of the tree. Slowly practice the grace notes and heavily accent the landing of each accent “jump” of the cat. Then, you are ready to accelerate the jump as is the practice in performance of the work.
If need be, there are many recordings of the work and each clarinetist has worked out the cadenza as are you, almost always with success, at least on the recording. Remember the function of the grace notes and play them softer than the landing accented notes. Then, after you’ve got them all the way you want them, make the accelerando. I once had to perform that cadenza three times within a two hour period for three childrens concerts in a row. Above is the way I did it, and it worked.

best wishes,
Sherman Friedland

Establishing good practice habits

August 9, 2007

.Dear Mr. Friedland:
.hello im David from Israel,i’m 16 years old and i have been playing the clarinet for 5-6 years
untill one and half years ago I was not a good player at all because i didn’t practice and most of the clarinet students were better than me in my music school…last year i took the clarinet seriously and i started to practice every day for 1-3 hours and i improved my skills also…i have recital one more year and i want to know if it’s not too late to be a very good player(because I really love the clarinet),how to utilize from the practice on the best way( timetable of the practice)because sometimes i spend a lot of time do nothing and i fell that i don’t advance ..and i would like to hear some good tips to do in the practices to get the higher levels i can in the shortest time…I really want to be a good player
…thank you very much for listening’s really important for me to hear such an opinion of a professional player as yourself.
No, it is not too late to become a good clarinetist and not too late to prepare a good concert. Your problems with practing are very familiar. Many clarinetists just don’t know what to practice and end up as you have done ,doing nothing. That is an easy cocept to fix.
From now on, tirst, decide on how long you will practice for that particular session.Schedule yourself for exactly what it is you will be practicing. If it is a passage, practice that passage alone. If you arrange the time carefully and stick to your own numbers as far as time is concerned you cannot fail to improve.
Let us say you are going to work on a passage from a piece. Practice only that for as long as you have scheduled.
If you are going to work on reeds, do the same for that section of time you you have given yourself.
So not just warm up and doodle away the time, for that does nothing to help you improve.
In thinking about sound, passage work, phrasing, technic, reeds, and prepared passages, work out the time beforehand.
Even if you are working on one interval, work on it, and nothing else for the allotted time, nothing else.
And do not play and play and play without a break. Give yourself time to take a break.
You will be refreshed in your mind when you return and will achieve more. Try this method, which doesn’t waste time.
See if it helps.

Best of luck.

Sherman Friedland

Yamaha 450N

August 8, 2007

My name is Eduardo . I’m an amateur clarinet player but I no longer
want to play this beautiful instrument, I guess I rather listen to it than trying to perform as good as others do better.It is a YAMAHA 450N CLARINET .I have no clue on how much to ask for it. I paid for it about 1100 canadian dollars about 3 years ago, maybe 4.
I only need suggestions so that I can post it.
Thanks in advance,


Hello Eduardo:
I am sorry you are leaving the clarinet, at least the playing end and wish to listen to it being played, which I can understand.
You happen to have a very fine under underrated instrument. This Yamaha 450N is a good clarinet, and I had a student get one instead of a Buffet, (which he could not afford) and this Yamaha turned out much better for him. The Yamaha Company is very well run, much better than many of the manufacturers on France. Their clarinets are more consistant and tune much better and they all play. Suffice it to say that Yamaha is the best buy for a clarinetist available these days, and is always competitively priced. My student who purchased one played it so much in band, every day for several hours, that it cracked. They simply sent him a new one, which was even better than the first, really.
So, having said that, selling one should not be too difficult, however the price will be difficult to recoup. However, you should be able to derive about half of what you spent, perhaps a bit less. They are rare on ebay, which is the selling place, so it will be sold if you place it.
But, keep in mind, make sure you are making the right decision. Music is difficult, however it is also a wonderful thing to have.

Best of good luck.
Sherman Friedland
a response:
Hello Sherman,

Thank you very much for your advice. I used to play more about 10 years
ago, and owned a R13, which I’m you know what I’m talking about. This
clarinet was fantastic, I was playing this as my secondary instrument while
playing piano. I left my music career on the side and now I only do it for
myself, not in a professional level. I wanted to ‘re-learn’ the clarinet
but it just didn’t work out very well for me. I bought it and started to
study it again with the experience and methods that I did in the past, it
just didn’t happen, I didn’t find the time.
Now my instrument is sitting in my closet and I think someone else can give
it a better use. The mouthpiece I’m including is a Vandoren B45. I have the
H. Klos method.
I posted it on Craigslist (not sure if you’re familiar with this web site)
with an offer starting at 800 Canadian dollars, am I crazy? I’ve seen them
on ebay (rarely as you mentioned) at around 850-925 US dollars.

Thanks again for you advise and your valuable time.


Breathing and support, a few concepts

August 7, 2007

Hello Mr Friedland,

I’m 14 years old and I’m from Singapore. I would like to know more about what it means by “air and breathing support”.

1) Firstly, I found it difficult to produce beautiful sound on the altissisimo(?)(topmost) register, sometimes I would squeak or there would be some tuning problems. After much practices, I realised I have improved slightly. However, I would like to know if there is any proper method, or any tips that you can give for further improvements. I heard of a suggestion to use of ‘air and breathing support’, but can you perhaps explain a little bit more? Will it help?
2) Nextly, I found it difficult to sustain long passages without having to breathe in the middle. After looking at the article of circular breathing, I decided not to learn it just then. So is there any exercises that can improve this situation?
3) Tuning. I realised that my instrument is generally sharp.(Buffet RC-prestige?, reed 3) I tried to extend the barrel by a bit and relaxed my embouchure, however, it doesn’t help really much. My band instructor told me to use air and breathing support, and listen. I have tried, but still found it difficult to tune with my friends. Do you have any suggestions?
4) My band conductor keeps telling us about “air and breathing support”. Is it really important? Or perhaps, can you explain a little bit more?

Thank you so much for the wonderful website!


Thank you for your note and the questions about breathing and support. Of course, these are essential to good playing, however it is more in just how you think of them when you play the clarinet.
One idea which helps many students is to consider the clarinet with a paper bag attached to the bell. One must breathe and support as if to blow up the bag with air as one plays. It cannot be done of course, but it is the thought that will help in establishing correct breathing .

As far as difficulty in sustaining long phrases, the clarinet is a wind instrument, as we know. In order to sustan long phrases we must learn to find places to take a breath within the phrase. This is part of the art of learning to play this instrument. You will find the logic in phrasing as you improve your technic. Remember to always mark the places within the phrase where you can breath without disturbing the line, and art unto itself.

If you are playing constantly sharp, it may be the clarinet or possibly the mouthpiece. It depends upon who is determining the center of pitch. Who gives the tning note in your ensemble? Are you the only one who plays sharp. Try pulling out your barrel or sometimes the barrel and the first joint.
Without hearing and seeing you play it is difficult to tell where exactly the problem is.

Also, when you play in the altissima of the clarinet, you should take care that you do not bite in order to get the note, do not play too loudly and do not practise in that register for too long.

Some say that breathing and supporting the sound of clarinet we use fast air,not slow air. This of course, is a concept to assist you, not necessarily to be taken literally.

It is also important that you have a teacher who plays and who can give you examples of the kind of playing he wants you to adopt.

I hope that this has helped you to establish the sound you wish to achieve.
Sherman Friedland

Artie Shaw Plays on

August 7, 2007

I thought Evelyn Keyes was the most intelligent and lovliest of women, thought readers may enjoy this little tidbit.

“VENTURA, Calif. (AP) A jury has awarded the ex-wife of the late jazz clarinetist and band leader Artie Shaw $1.42 million, which accounts for about half of his estate.
Evelyn Keyes, the last of Shaw’s eight wives, was best known for playing Scarlett O’Hara’s sister in the 1939 film Gone With the Wind.

Shaw died in 2004 at age 94. He and Keyes were married from 1957 to 1985 but separated in 1970.

Long after they separated but while they were still married, Shaw wrote a two-page contract in which they promised each other half of their estates, said Henry Gradstein, lawyer for Keyes, 89.

“She went to his executor to collect her half, and he refused,” Gradstein said. “She had no choice but to sue.”

The jury made its decision Friday.

Shaw’s hit recordings of Begin the Beguine and Star Dust, among others, made him a major star in the Big Band era. Besides Keyes, Shaw also was married to Lana Turner and Ava Gardner”.

An attorney for executor A. Edward Ezor did not immediately return a phone call late Monday.

Leblanc Dynamic and an eight year old beginner

August 7, 2007

Subject: Clarinet Corner Query:

Dear Mr. Friedland,

I am very happy to have found your Clarinet Corner! I am facing a
dilemma: My eight-year-old daughter believes it is time for her to begin learning the clarinet using MY clarinet!
I began playing this particular clarinet when I was nine years old, and was warned by my mother that if anything happened to it I would not only be minus an instrument, but also possibly minus a home! Now that my daughter has begun casting her eyes upon “my” clarinet, I begin to sympathize with my mother’s feelings when she issued that warningMy mother received this clarinet in the early-to-mid 1950’s. It is a Leblanc “Dynamic II”, according to its markings. I know very little about it, other than the fact that every time we had it in the shop people admired it, frequently inquring whether or not we would consider selling it. Of course, we would not!
First of all, I am very interested in knowing more about the “Dynamic II”.I haven’t found anything at all in my online research, even on the Leblanc website. Considering the fact that my grandparents were of very limited means and that we are from a very rural area in Texas, I would certainly not imagine that the “Dynamic II” is near the higher end of Leblanc products. On the other hand, however, I must weigh the acts that my mother was extremely talented and that my grandparents bought this clarinet (new) for her as an upgrade to replace the horrible one upon which she began playing. I know that when it became apparent that she was such an excellent musician they would have scrimped and saved until they managed to purchase an instrument that would see her through high school
and college adequately. These facts lead me to suspect that this clarinet might not be terribly near the lowest end of Leblanc instruments, either. (As a matter of fact, it not only saw my mother through college, it served
me well from fourth grade through my college days with a beautiful tone, although with some temperamental tuning issues.) Have you any knowledge of this particular model, or might you know where I could look for more information?

Secondly, I hesitate to start my daughter on this instrument because of its sentimental value, it’s possible monetary value, and the fact that I don’t know whether it might be becoming more fragile as time goes by. Would it be better to start her on a cheaper instrument and then “graduate” her to the Leblanc when she is ready for an improvement? Or is this Leblanc simply not that big a deal? I don’t want to be selfish, especially since my own mother sent the nine-year-old klutz that I was forth on a school bus with this clarinet, which was precious to her. She must have shuddered through the various band trips and wondered whether the poor thing would make it through intact (it did, except for the
mouthpiece, which I broke and replaced in the early 1980s with a Selmer
B*). I do feel that I owe my daughter the same opportunity to use this instrument that I was given.
Any information or recommendations you might have regarding my situation would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you!

================================================================== —

Thank you for you informative note. The Dynamic was one of Leblancs better clarinets, certainly worth a professionals performance. It is called a big bore instrument, which doesn’t mean much, but to reiterate it is a very good horn. Naturally its worth now depends almost completely upon its condition.
What I would do would be to have the clarinet completely overhauled and keep it for your self or for your daughter if in fact she really goes on with the clarinet.
At her age, she doesn’t need a really good instrument in the sense of a so-called professional instrument, but a good resin or hard rubber
instrument could be ideal for her. Look into Ridenour Clarinet Products for some excellent and inexpensive instruments which would be very good for her.
Good luck.
sincerely, Sherman Friedland