Attention: Always check the SEARCH BAR on this site

Clarinet Corner Query: Undertones and Airiness
Dear Mr. Friedland,

I apologize in advance for any bother I may cause you. ^_^

I am a seventeen-year-old student and I have been playing the clarinet for nine years (not very long, I know, but I figured it might be useful to know). I’m not sure what type of mouthpiece I use because all it says is “2” on it, and nobody can tell the type. It came with a clarinet that was new to me, though 30 years old. The mouthpiece is plastic, whilst the clarinet is wood. I use a #3 Vandoren reed. I used Rico when I first started, switched to Mitchell Lurie two years ago, and then at the beginning of this year, a clarinet professor at UNC told me to switch to Vandoren.

Here’s my problem: regardless of reed change, I sound airy on every single note. Also, when I tongue even moderately fast, I get undertones. I always play with a straight posture and both feet flat on the floor, but that is not helping the aforementioned problems in any way. I have tried tonguing with different parts of my tongue (the tip, farther back, etc.) but I still get the undertones and all the air. The undertones begin when I play the B-flat concert scale, but donʼt happen when I get up to the C#, D, and F (the really high ones).

If there’s any advice that you have for me on fixing these problems, I would greatly appreciate it!! The professor told me to whistle a C# and play with my mouth in that position, but I have noticed no difference (though is most likely because I am doing it incorrectly).

Thank you very much for considering my questions. I will gladly accept any instructions and/or advice you can offer. Thank you again!

Dear Sarah:
Thank you for your note. I understand your problems and would love to hear you play so that I can help to fix them for they are common and are basic as well.
On my site, there is a search bar. It is on the lower right hand side of the front page.
Go there and put the words, embouchure, tonguing, and mouthpiece, each word separately and read all that comes up. I have been writing this site for at least 10 years and I know I have discussed the same problems with many players.
If you are helped by anything you read, please let me know.
In any case, please write to me again should you have further problems. It is not your mouthpiece, nor your clarinet, nor your reed. It is most probably you and the fact that you do not have a private teacher who is a clarinetist to guide you.
Without seeing you play, much less hearing you, I cannot tell if you have a good embouchure, which is critical.
Anyway, I am concerned about your problems. Please take my suggestions and get to me if you have any further questions. Please do not forget that all of these changes will take time.
Good luck, and let me know how you are doing.

best wishes, sherman


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