Adjusting to temperature

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


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