A request from a student,: which clarinet to acquire?

November 28, 2007

Hello Mr. Friedland,

Dear Mr. Friedland:
Firstly, I would like to say thank you for all the wonderful tips on your website! I have found them to be very helpful and informative.
I am currently considering getting a Buffet R13 clarinet, however in a
previous article of yours you say they do not play very well in tune. My friend from band class also claims they are somewhat overpriced and
recommended trying Leblanc, Selmer, or intermediate level Yamaha
clarinets. I would like to know if he is right, and, if you don’t mind,any clarinets that do play well in tune and you think would play well for me. (I have played clarinet in an advanced school band for almost four years and I am second chair.)
Thanks very much for your time!

Hello ; I am happy that my writings have helped you.
The current Buffet Clarinet is not very well made, suffers from metal
flaking, some poor manufacturing and the usual intonation problems, and is really prohibitively expensive.
Among the clarinets you mention, the Yamaha is really the best buy and the best intune, really it is as good a clarinet as one can get, though still expensive.
I am curently playing with the Lyrique clarinet, which has the best tuning, will not suffer in extreme temperatures and is made of hard rubber.It is designed by William Ridenour, perhaps the best designer of clarinets in the US, (Opus, Concerto, Sonata, etc).
He sells and services his own instruments and they are without peer, and the price is commensurate for an aspiring student.
Put his name in your browser. You will not be sorry.
Good luck, in all your pursuits.
Sherman Friedland

A Teacher told me to change to Van Doren…….ULP

November 28, 2007

Dear Sherman,
A teacher recommend me to change brand from Rico to Vandorem, same strength (3). I bought a box of Vandorem but I CANT PLAY! It doesn’t sound right, to much air, horrible… Any tips?
Other question in the same topic: what to do with new reeds? Leave them in water? Saliva? What? Any tips?
Hello Martin:
Thank you for your question concerning Van Doren reeds. Teachers usually recommend a change from reeds such as ordinary Rico or La Voz to Van Doren in order to create a change in sound and a change in the way the student listens.
This procedure used to be regular with all students.
However one should understand that the recommendation is a change to a reed with more substance in the center (called “heart”) which causes more resistance and usually helps to create a more dense , or a rounder tone, also assisting in playing in the high register.
But, nowadays there are many other reeds available which give more strength and are more consistent than are Van Dorens, even including some kinds of Rico reeds, the thicker blank “Concert Reeds” or a similar name, Gonzalez, which are always more consistent, and several others as well.

One thing to remember, a Van Doren usually never plays right “out of the box”, so-to-speak, but requires preparation and trying and retrying while the reed changes according to the soaking and drying you give it.

Alway start with just a few, never all ten. Two or three to start. Wet them thoroughly and place them on a glass so that they may dry.

Different players do different things. If you look under reeds on this site, you will find many articles which I have written that have given advice on trying and working with reeds. I suggest looking at as many as you can stand.
It is a pain, and it is much easier to just take any soft reed and make some type of sound; unfortunately you will not be able to play much at all, especially if you improve your embouchure, which is what this reed business is all about.

Good luck.

sincerely, Sherman

A new Clarinet, and the pitch is flat? (What to do)

November 24, 2007

Mr. Friedland,

I recently purchased a used Selmer Omega Bb Clarinet from a reputable store in Michigan. It plays well and I am very happy with it except for the fact the the barrel is about 1 cm longer than my old clarinet, a 40 year old Artley prelude. This causes me to play extremely flat in band. I was wondering if there is a place you can special order a shorter barrel. The barrel off of my Artley doesn’t fit. Also I was wondering if you could tell me anything about the Artley Prelude. It says ‘Prelude’ on the bell and has been in our family for about 40 years. Thanks so much for any help you can gives me. Sincerely, J
The barrel on the Omega should be a standard 56-57 mm long. If shorter than that, you should be able to exchange it at the dealer. I believe that any standard length Selmer barrel will fit.
Playing flat in band could have to do with your barrel or the pitch you were used to playing on the Artley. You could be used to playing much higher than the Omega plays.
The best thing to do is to use an electronic tuner to discern exactly where the A is located, and where you play it.
The mouthpiece is also part of the equation and can cause a considerable amount of pitch change.
Did you get a Selmer mouthpiece with the Omega?
You should have and I would ask for one.
So, as far as flat or sharp is concerned, one must have the pitch from a correct given source and then you tune with the source.
Stating flat or sharp means very little, and without hearing you or the clarinet, it is difficult to give you a considered response.
sincerely, Sherman Friedland

Adjusting to temperature

November 22, 2007

Mr. Friedland,
I have a quick question for you. I am having trouble with being flat when I play. I play a selmer series 9 with a Vandoren M13 mouthpiece. I have a very nice tone with a softer reed like a 2 1/2 or 3, but then I just can’t keep from going flat. I can play a harder reed 4, which keeps me in tune and my tone suffers a lot. I even bought one of those silly click tuning barrels, which helps somewhat but still I am flat without the harder reed. To give you a little background, I’m in my late 30’s starting over with the clarinet in my church orchestra. I’ve been playing again now for about a year and a half. Another helpful fact is that our church is cold at least to me and we don’t have very long to warm up before playing. I hope that I have been effective in my description to get some help from you. I’m frustrated and I’m sure more practice will help, but do you have any further instruction? Thank you so much! S

Yes, the problem is quite familiar to me as I suffered with it many times playing in the frigid winters in Montreal, frequently in churches which are always poorly heated, if at all. This playing was crucial , as it was frequently done for (one-take) CBC recordings which were to be broadcast again and again on radio)
The best advice I can give you is to try (try) a B45 or a 5RV mouthpiece. They both play sharper than does the M13 and may help with your problem.(Try them in the music store or with a trial basis, which all music stores offer)
Remember S, and all those who may read this, the clarinet is a fixed-pitch instrument, however this “fixed-pitch” business begins to get sharper the very second the air from your body enters its grenadilla body (another reason to go to a material at least one more stable, as in hard rubber)
It is the temperature in the church. Also, who gives the tuning note? If there is nobody, then the pitch is bound to be high. Try to get an A=440. That will also help.
The barrel that is called click is not silly. I used it many times and found it worked well, very well and was a big help. It is made quite poorly however….but it does work.
I know that the two mouthpieces I mentioned should help. The funny, yet wonderful thing about Van Doren mouthpieces is that they have been thoughtfully designed for virtually every clarinet and situation and their solutions work. This of course necessitates trying many, for they are mass-produced and therefore are not terribly consistent. BUT, neither are the super expensive hand made mouthpieces available.
The worst thing to think is that somehow you are at fault.
sincerely, Sherman Friedland

Program Choice

November 20, 2007

Dear Mr Friedland,
I’m planning my programme for an ‘A’ Level recital. Could you please advise me on which of these two programmes can demonstrate more aspects of playing? Is this then the programme I should use?

1) Beethoven Trio for clarinet, cello and piano, op 11 (1st mvt)
Stravinsky Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo
Rossini Introduction, Theme and Variations

2) (The specific order of pieces for this programme isn’t confirmed yet)
Mozart Concerto (1st or 3rd mvt)
Bruch Concerto for clarinet, viola and orchestra in E minor, op 88 (1st mvt)
Stravinsky Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo

If you think programme no. 2 is better, could you please advise me whether to do the 1st or 3rd mvt for the Mozart?

Thank you very very much!

Best regards,

The second program is more demonstrative of the aspects of the clarinet. The first movement of the Mozart is the more difficult of all the works and is transparent enough to earn very high achievement if you rise to the occasion. By that I mean that the reason that the first movement of the Mozart is the most significant work in the entire repertoire. Why? Because the work is totally transparent. You play with what is exactly on the page, that is to say, every single phrase ending with a quarter note at the beginning of a bar means exactly that, and no more. This work, more than any other shows the tiniest error in articulation or even notation, which is its secret. You ear will become sharper as you listen to yourself play. Even record yourself. Listen back and spot the many errors, and repair them. I have found that this single work is very difficult , that is to say, if you really listen .
This goes as well for the Stravinsky work, which is less clear because there are so many opinions about it, but this too starts with absolute accuracy.
Beethoven and Rossini are inconsequential by comparison. If you want the most demonstrative of the virtuoso 19th century, choose the Grand Duo Concertante, by Weber, the prince of both clarinet and piano works of the century. I hope that you do well on your recital and that is some way I have helped with my somewhat stern suggestions. You will find both he Stravincky and the Mozart with playing analyses on this site.

good luck, sherman friedland


The Selmer 10S 2

November 16, 2007

Hi Sherman,

Someone in a recent letter (Boston in the 50s) says he getting a brand new Selmer Series 10 II S clarinet.
Is Selmer still making and selling these clarinets? Really enjoy Clarinet Corner, especially your memories of

your early days in Boston!
Hello DL:
I have seen dozens of advertisements on these Selmer 10S 2 clarinets and they are always listed as brand new. As far as Selmer selling them, I have no idea as Selmer no longer exists as its own company, but it part of an amalgamation of companies called Conn-Selmer which includes at the very least the Leblanc Clarinet. A few of the so-called “big box” companies advertise all of these instruments, but never the Selmer 10S 2, which would have been discontinued several years past.
The best guess I can give you is that in the organization of the new company a number of new instruments were purchased at special prices and have gone on sale mostly on ebay, with some really low prices, as low as one thousand dollars for a new instrument.
I purchased a Leblanc Sonata Clarinet for two hundred dollars a few years ago. It was brand new, came wrapped in plastic bags, with no case, or mouthpiece, but it was a great instrument. This venue can be a scurrilous place, however from time to time, once can pick up an excellent instrument for very little .
Of course, one must be careful and even the careful can get taken.
I do not think that the instrument you mention is made any longer, however the number of instruments around may be many.

Boston has not changed too much since I went to school and started playing there.(At least the area around Symphony Hall and the New Englanc Conservatory) I played and lectured at the Berklee College in late September and got to see that wonderful area.
Berklee is on the corner of Mass Ave and Huntington, I guess, having taken over a bank and a hotel on the corner.
Coming out of Berklee, just look down and you are afforded a view of Symphony Hall, bringing back wonderful memories.
We drove down from Canada and got lost in the Adirondacks for several hours and were totally entertained by the most gorgeous and vibrant fall colors I can remember. The Red Sox were also in town and Boston is not only the home of the greatest orchestra, but perhaps the best Baseball anywhere.
I am currently playing on a Selmer 10S and can vouch for the instrument as a truly wonderful clarinet, having lost the brightness of the 10 and gaining an even better intonation.
I do not know in what ways the 10S2 is different.

best wishes, always, sherman

Starting the Clarinet from Scratch

November 11, 2007

I have been attempting to learn to play the clarient since I was 12
but for various reasons (moving countries, switchng schools, taking
exams etc) I have never got round to it.
The other day I decided to take matters in my hands and I bought a
clarinet and a couple of method books. I currently don’t have access
to a clarint teacher so most of it will be self study. I have done a
bit of music theory though, and I have taken advanced exams with the
descant and treble recorders.
Do you have any advice for me as I begin to learn the clarinet?

You are in need of a clarinetist. I think that getting a teacher
would save you tons of hours , as a fact you can perhaps learn a bit about embouchure, but not really without a teacher. You must find one,
Look at all of the articles having to do with embouchure on my website.
That will help to bring certain important things to mind, but you need
someone to show you, and you need a sound ideal to model your sound after.
Without this, your progress will be depressingly slow. I wish you the best of all good luck.(playing the recorder is completely different from playing the clarinet. Switching clarinet to recorder is terribly easy, the opposite is quite difficult, as the clarinet embouchure is difficult to achieve and takes much longer than the whistle aspect that is the recorder.
sincerely,and really good wishes.
Sherman Friedland