May 28, 2008
With malice toward none:
I have tried for more than 45 years to find a reed to use instead of cane. I had heard early in my study that George Bundy had been working on a reed of sterling silver for the clarinet just before he passed away and I was intrigued. Then, while in Milwaulee(Principal), I tried the Fibrecane reed,played it for three months without mentioning it, then told the first cellist and I became an almost instant pariah.(“oh may god, he plays plastic!”). I abandoned them, went back to Bonades or one of the others and am still looking. Now, Legeres aren’t bad. I was attracted to Richard Hawkins website because all of the excerpts are played on Legere and they are (except for a slightly diffuse quality) excellent, or better. Now, I find this of interest and I obtained a Hawkins “R” facing, a lovely mouthpiece, but I couldn’t find a Legere that would sound like anything but a popsicle stick. Awful.
Then I put one of my cane reeds on it and it absolutely came to a beautiful vibrance and what I consider great beauty and I have not looked back. So, there you go, we’re all different and so are mouthpieces. I find the thick rails and tip of my(2) Gennusa mouthpieces play Legere OK, but still not well, so for 19 bucks a pop, I will buy two boxes of Zonda Classicos and off I will go. My second best mouthpiece is a Gregory Smith, which I couldn’t play, sent it to Hawkins and I now have it back and etched into it are the words, “Refaced by Richard Hawkins”. It plays terrific. (and I will not sell it.)
May 27, 2008
I usually play on a Vandoren 5RV mouthpiece. I have started playing glissandos and other klezmer and jazz tricks and I am finding it a little difficult to play smoothly. I also squeak more. Is it the mouthpiece? Can you recommend another mouthpiece that is either vandoren or selmer, in other words something that is available in all the stores which would enable me to play klezmer and jazz well. I live in Israel and I can only purchase the regular makes and not specific handmade ones.
Thank you so much ,A.
I am so happy that you cannot buy all the special brands. Why? Because they make you submit to the makers wishes and many times the maker doesn’t know his brass from his oboe, or better said, he certainly doesn’t know your problems and probably not Klezmer. So, I will tell you that you may have better luck with the M13 mouthpiece, one that I used with great success for many years and I think is better than the 5RV, or maybe you have a bad 5RV. Van Dorens are great, but differ from one to the other just like all the rest of them. I have also used a Selmer C85, but felt that it was not as good for me as was the M13. You could also try the 5JB, a mouthpiece made supposedly for Jazz, one that is quite open. That may work well for you. And get one that does not squeak. ho needs such a thing.?
Which ever you try, play several and pick the best one.
best to you,
May 17, 2008
When I tongue staccato notes I seem to get too much air and notenough “tone.” I’ve tried putting more mouthpiece in my mouth. It hasn’t helped. Could I positioning my tongue incorrectly? I will appreciate any help you have to offer. I am a pretty good Clarinet and I hope to get First Chair in Band next year. Thanks! M.J.
I am posting this succinct answer because as simple as it is stated, with practice and patience, it does work and may be of help
I have many articles on staccato on my site which are easily accessible. Yours is a simple problem and there are several articles that will give specific instructions on how to improve your situation and problem. (smallest amount of tongue on the reed, build up pressure of support first, then remove tongue, sound must come immediately, will come ,but only with patient practice.)
May 13, 2008
There was a question posed concerning attendance at a University. A particular brand of clarinet was recommended.
My response to the teacher follows:
You yourself have chosen the clarinet that more of us are choosing , the Lyrique which far surpasses the R-13 because of only two significant reasons: it is made from hard rubber, which will not permanently freeze the barrel to the first joint after a two-hour band rehearsal, and it is a much more economical instrument to buy with a far superior guaranty. The scale, to add another reason, is far better than the R-13, most of which have a sharp throat and a flat altissimo and a whole bunch inbetween. One has to choose four or more and then have the first choice tuned by a competent person.
BUT, your student will face harassment by those who have paid three-thousand dollars for a clarinet named Buffet, and there is a significant chance of the harassment by the two clarinet professors, which is, let us face it, not unheard of.
She should be free to choose, but some people are pre-prejudiced unfortunately, and you have already been notified thereof.
So, in the final judgement, it depends upon the fortitude of your student and her maturity.
Having taught at a university wherein this prejudice is readily apparent , I can attest to it, yet a more stable clarinet, which will not crack, especially after a couple of hours of playing away in a band, seems not to be the choice.
I have always believed that a University is for people who prefer to be unique and to think for themselves, however whatever the brand they choke you with it is morally and (for me) musically unacceptable.
Good luck and have courage.
May 8, 2008
Thank you very much for your input on a new instrument. I am now seriously considering the Bb Lyrique, as well as the Leblanc Rapsodie.
I have, however, another question for you: recently I read David Pino’s book, The Clarinet and Clarinet Playing, and in it he suggests that plastic ligatures in which the screws face away from the reed or bootlaces are the best. I am currently looking into either a Vandoren leather ligature or a Rovner Mark III. What brand of ligature do you suggest?
I really have no preference as to ligature, but I do use the Rovner Light and have for the past ten or fifteen years. My reasons:It doesn’t destroy reeds and that I can get the ligature tight enough to allow me to change from one clarinet to another without having the ligature fall off. My own suggestion is to beware of metal ligatures which are heavy and expensive for no particular reason, save for that of price.
May 6, 2008
On Sunday May 4, I played my first public performance on the Ridenour (hard rubber) “A” Clarinet. It was a performance of the Serenade, Opus 93, by Hans Gal, and the music was a first for me as well. It was written in 1935 for Clarinet, Violin and Cello. We performed it at The Unitarian Church in Montreal along with the Abime by Messiaen, and the Beethoven and Milwaud Trios.
I was most interested in the “A” clarinet as it was my first performance on this instrument and as we all know. anything can happen.
But, the clarinet, Toms A was superb. There wasn’t a single problem and everything I have said has been born out by the performance. I recorded only the Gal and it stood up very well to all my criteria.
The work is kind of like a Strauss Tone Poem, but it does have two clarinet cadnezas and was a great test for the instrument. Was it perfect? Yes, but I was not, but still I am not at all unhappy.
This is a horn that will suit the most demanding professional, especially regarding intonation and the remarkably even quality of tone.
Another Ridenour invention, the Thumb Saddle is a great little rubber boot that goes over the thumbrest and will give you all kinds of relief if you have arthritis or discomfort, especially during rehearsals. I chose not to use it on the performance. Perhaps it is something similar to wearing gloves.but I heartily recommend it. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Tom, but I do think he knows how a good horn is supposed to sound, and armed with this rather amazing acumen, his clarinet is really, pound for pound, the best in the business.
best to all, Sherman