How many plates do you have for your ligature.

June 24, 2008

When a young man in the later 40s and 50s, ligatures were always metal with two screws to the right, tightening the reed on the mouthpiece. I am tlking about the Eastern US.Then in the 60s, the Bonade ligature made its entrance, having two rails which aligned the reed correctly, or the way you wanted it. Then a bit later, a clarinetist took a pair of pliers and just ripped out a piece of the Bonade and turned it around, thus the reverse Bonade,then manufactured to the reverse with the screws on the other side and top still used by some currently. The mid 70s brought on the Rovners and their various textures and materials. The interesting thing about these is that the variations are really much less than forthcoming to changing or enhancing clarinet sound.
Nobody can play two ligatures with the same reed simultaneously, with the reed in the exact same place, so who can tell how it actually sounds.But one may feel something different, although different folk may have different opinions. There was between these somewhere a neat thing called the Harrison, expensive with all kinds of funny stamping in the shape of an H. This was of course discontinued, and then brought back by another company. There are of course the VD optimum which uses different plates to change the sound or to facilitate certains points of technic. The Daniels has eight plates , I think, and there are all kinds of revelatory pieces of chozerai(Yiddish:superflua) to put in between the reed and whatever is holding it on to the mouthpiece. There are evnen more exotic(read epxpensive) ones around, but nobody can prove their prowess in doing what?Nobody knows. Really, Its all feelings…..just like the song.
I have always used a ligature so that I can change clarinets , you know from Bb to A, without the thing coming apart in my hand, the reed on the floor, me bending down, picking it up and missing the entrance. Afte that it becomes another game of the Emperors New Clothes.
It is always a little sad to read young players listing their clarinets, their reeds, their setups, their ligatures, and of course, the clarinet and model number.
What in the world does this have to do with music? As someone has said above, it has a good deal to do with money.
Teachers should not perpetrate this kind of behavior.



Ridenour ATG Reed System, and the Thumb Saddle

June 21, 2008

Good morning Mr Friedland,

Greetings from Glencairn, South Africa. I am an amateur clarinettist and am really passionate about playing. Firstly, I want to say a HUGE thank you for sharing your great wealth of knowledge and wisdom so freely and generously with us amateur players. It is really appreciated!!!

I have two questions for you and would appreciate your comments on them:

1. The Ridenour thumb saddle � do you know whether it will fit an adjustable thumb rest which has a hole for clipping in a sling hook.
2. As a result of searching for the above thumb saddle at Tom Ridenour�s website I came upon his �ATG Single Reed Finishing System.� Have you tried it and if so, can you recommend it? I must say it sounds marvellous and would seem to be the answer. I have always battled with reeds.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Best wishes,



Dear CM:

As to the Ridenour thumb saddle, I do not know if if it will fit the adjusted thumbrest with hole for a sling hook, however I do think it possible and the purchase is not prohibitive.

But the ATG reed fixing system is most probably the best system there is and it is complete with all the tools one needs and an excellent video. This is not just a system, but one that reflects the same technics that any good and experienced played picks up in a lifetime…. and it works, very very well. I cannot recommend the ATG reed-fixing system any higher. It is the best in the business.

Most sincerely,
Sherman Friedlnd

Music Education with no prior training

June 18, 2008

Dear Mr Friedland:
I have a question about well really my future.
I just recently bought a Yamaha YCL-450 and I’m playing on the mouthpiece that came with the instrument and a Vandoren 3 reed. I’m looking into buying the Vandoren 5RV Lyr Series mouthpiece but after reading some of your earlier post I’m now looking into the Vandoren B45 and the Clark W Forbes “Debut” Mouthpieces. I have been playing for 7 years now and am entering high school as a senior next year and am worried about college auditions. I’ve never had private lessons but am going to my first lesson on Friday.I have a “good” ear and am an ok player who has been working on develeping her technique and sound but I’m not extremely skilled in technique. I want to be a music education major and go to a school in Philadelphia but I feel the lack in technique and the fact that I’m just starting to get private lessons might hinder my chances of doing well at auditons. So my question is do you think it would be possible to get into college as a music education major without private lessons and if so what kind of repertoire should I look into learning?

Hello C:
It really depends upon how much of an ability you have and to what school you are applying. Make sure that you tell them that you have never had any private lessons as it will make a big difference in your favor. They will be able to determine from your audition what exactly is your potential, realize that you are going for a Music Education degree and gauge all accordingly. It also depends upon the number of potential students have applied to the institution, the more makes them more selective, and less, they become less so. That sounds crass perhaps, but it is indeed the way of the educational system, which is more and more a business.
Don’t worry about technic, worry about the sound you make for that is a reflection of your potential more than any techinc, which is never important, especially for an entering student.
What are you playing now? If nothing else, play a Rose Etude for them.
Do not worry. It sounds to me that you will do very well indeed.
Good luck, and do not worry.
Best wishes, Sherman Friedland

Gino Cioffi, his Selmers, and his Buffets

June 16, 2008

Dear Mr. Friedland:

As you know, my grandfather, Gino B. Cioffi, was the principal clarinetist of the BSO from 1952-1972 and was a Selmer endorser. I have his two Selmer symphony sets plus a special Buffet set made for him when Buffet was trying to woo him from Selmer as well as numerous mouthpieces (including the original famous crystal O’Briens), barrels (all in excellent condition) and his entire music library (I am sure w/music that is out of print, etc).

With the recent passing of my uncle and my 83 yr old stroke survivor father (former clarinetist of the US Army Band), I have all these beautiful instruments and no one to ever to play them again. I am torn with what to do with them. On the one hand, part of me believes they have created their share of music and should now be retired not to be played again, but then, being a musician myself, I also see it is a bit of a crime that they are not being played (I will probably keep one of my grandfather’s sets for posterity). While I am not in need of the money that these instruments might bring, I do not want to give them away, either. At that point, I might as well keep and display them, but again, how many clarinets can one display?

I know you, my uncle and myself had some prior disagreements as to how my grandfather was remembered/written about, etc, but I know you agree with me that my grandfather’s tone and place in clarinet history can’t be denied. To that end, you are also one of a few remaining from another generation that actually had the opportunity to know him and know his impact. I was hoping I might be able to get your take on the matter before I post in on a clarinet forum? Basically, do these old clarinets, in excellent condition have value/can contribute to today’s music/sound or should they be retired forever with their only value to a collector?

I thank you in advance for any assistance you can render.


Gino Cioffi

Dear Mr. Friedland:

Thank you for your quick response. I truly appreciate the kind words concerning my grandfather. Your quote “It is said that when we get older, we put away childish things, but Boston, the Conservatory and Symphony Hall have always remained a part of me and will I hope for some time to come.” Anything that brought you that much joy, no matter at what point in your life, should always remain a vibrant part of you and I hope it remains with you forever because life is short and it is the rare person who can say I dreamt to be X and tried, let alone succeeded (I always battle my mother on this point…she thinks I’m crazy for thinking I have a right to enjoy what I do (played drums professionally)…how many people get stuck doing something they could care less about, let alone aspired to)…enough philosophy and back to the clarinets!

I am familiar w/Ebay and that whole process and as you mentioned, can be problematic. If you can put the word out to any players you know about these items, I would greatly appreciate it.

As for the Buffets, a little history:
I think they are just like his 55s key wise…full boehm minus the low E flat…but will confirm (I played clarinet, but only for about 4 yrs)? They are from early to mid 70s and they are a matched set. My grandfather was always a Selmer man (unfortunately, this country is the land of the Buffet) and he gave them to my father who liked the fact that they were easier to blow. He only used the B flat, they are beautiful instruments in great shape and obviously very rare. I know that these are marketable, since I have had quite a bit of interest from people when they know I have them. At the time, I was thinking I would keep them and one set of the 55s, but again, how many clarinets can one display. As for you trying them, most definitely. We would just need to arrange some way to meet. I assume you never make your way to Virginia/DC? I do go to NY from time to time and I was in Pittsfield in Nov because my Uncle passed away. We still own my grandparents summer house there. Please let me know how you think we might be able to meet for you to try the Buffets. If you can point me in the direction of other buyers that would be much appreciated, but I will give you the opportunity on the Buffets, first. I look forward to your response.

All the best,


Of course, this will interest many of the readers, especially a matched set of Buffets (full boehm without the low Eb). Should you wish, I will foward any inquiries to Gino Cioffi.

The Selmer Recital, a “dark” clarinet?

June 14, 2008

Hello Sherman,

I am in need of a new clarinet. Can you recommend any professional models that have a dark tone? I always hear about clarinets with all different kinds of tonal qualities over internet sites, but it is obviously very difficult for me to decide for myself without first playing them. I was looking at the Selmer Recital, but as I stated, it is hard to decide without hearing it. Do you know anything about the Recital? Please advise.

Thank you,



Hello Alex:
I owned and performed on a set of Recital clarinets for a good time and found them to be really excellent instruments. I can fully recommend them to you, though the word “darK” when referring to tone means different things to different people.I found the Recital to be almost amazingly even in quality, the intonation being excellent as well. The Selmer C85 mouthpiece was the best match I could find for them (at the time) and it was a joy to play the clarinets. I donated the set of Recitals to Concordia University when I retired. Of course, in the final analyses it is your ear which will direct you.
Best wishes,
Sherman Friedland

Arthritis in the right hand

June 14, 2008

Good Morning:

I too am looking for an adjustable thumb rest but for a different reason. Not to relieve pain. I am 78 years old and learned of the rubber tubing solution for that when I was a youngster taking lessons from an old Sousa clarinetest.

My problem is that arthritus is developing and the index fingers are bending toward and under the middle fingers. The left hand poses no problem but the right does. When I get the index finger in position to cover the ring/hole, the other two fingers are not in correct position. And of course the reverse is true. I have found that if I place the thumb above the thumb rest it works but of course I have lost the support of the thumb. Hence, I need an adjustable rest for a Buffet that will go up, not down. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.


I understand your problem in that I have one not unlike yours. There are two possible solutions: The first is easily possible by moving your thumbrest up which is fairly simple. This may ameliorate your positioning, however if not I recommend you get a thumbrest that will help to open your hand, bringing it away from the rest of your palm. The Ridenour Thumb saddle will do this . They are really inexpensive and they have helped me enormously, mostly I think because you get to change your position, any change being one for the better, at least for a while. I have about four or five of them and always keep them handy when pain sets in. Just look down at your hand(without clarinet)and then open your thumb away from it. You will notice that your fingers will open involuntarily. While you can keep them still, it is natural to open your hand a bit. Add the clarinet and I believe you will have a solution, or at least a help with your playing.
Good luck. ()

Norman Carrel, a wonderful clarinetist and teacher

June 3, 2008

Dear Mr. Friedland: I hope this e-mail will get to you. My name is M C Carrel) Norman Carrel was my dad. I have read about you on the internet and noticed that you mention him sometimes. He was great! He passed away about three years ago at 96. He could still play the clarinet right up until the end. If you get this, perhaps you could let me know. Than you for your time. M C


Dear Ms. C:
Hello and thank you so much for your note. Norman was my very first clarinet teacher and also the most gifted musician and cartoonist as well . My lessons with Mr. Carrel were always an event and many times in my writings on my site I recall that first lesson with him in telling students to find a teacher who is a real clarinetist. I am glad he lived a good and complete life. He was a wonderful influence on many many musicians and an inspiration. I loved his cartoons as well as did many many people. I loved him.
most sincerely,


But ,you know he was much more that just an excellent clarinetist. He was also a fine teacher and an inspiration because of the very unusually beautiful sound he made on the clarinet. He also sounded equally good on any instrument he picked up, including Saxopnone, Flute and even Oboe. He was a natural and I consider myself fortunate for having met and studied with him.
60 years ago this March I had my first lesson with “Mr Carrel” in room 217 of the New England Conservatory of Music. I had been asking to learn to pay the clarinet for several years when my parents finally consented and they placed this ad in the Boston Globe: “Wanted to buy, used clarinet, cheap.”
Well Norman, being Norman called and complied, but also offered lessons and they agreed.
It must be the same for everybody taking their first lesson. Of course he demonstrated first and I think I shall never forget that sound, that incredibla sound with which I fell in love. I did nothing but squeak the first lesson and vowed to myself that I would not squeak for the second, which I did not, and I progressed very quickly after that, placing principal clarinet in what was a very good high school band.
I guess in retrospect was the he said I should definitely go to the Curtis Institute, in itself a great compliment, but my parents would think of it, nd it was years before I realized that I should have , or at least tried to attend, which I did not.
In any event, I would hope that all who read this will be looking for a teacher who can inspire you as was I by Norman Carrel


Throat and Chest tight after a two hour rehearsal

June 1, 2008

Hi – I’ve learned a lot from reading your website; I
hope you might have some advice for a problem I’m
having with my throat.

After a two-hour-plus band rehearsal, my throat and
chest felt really tight and strained. Now when I play
in the upper register, the back of my throat feels
very tight and strained – as though I have a big lump
in the back of my throat. I’ve found references to
“herniated” throats and “throat pouches” (Zenker’s
diverticulum) – I’m really hoping it’s not either of
those or anything requiring surgery.

I realize now that I must be blowing into the horn
improperly, although I’m not entirely sure how to fix
that. (I don’t yet have a teacher – I recently dusted
off my clarient after 25-plus years; I love it and
would like to find a teacher, but in the meantime, I
don’t want to destroy my physical ability to do so!)
Have you heard of this type of problem?

Many thanks!
Hello L:
I have not heard of the maladies you mention, however I have exoerienced the very same symptoms you have described and immediately will say that for me, it was simply a question of rest and relaxation in between playing sessions. If you play for a couple of hours plus at or in a band rehearsal, everything gets tired. It is very normal to have a certain amount of discomfort, This should diminish and disappear after several rehearsals and also please remember, you do not have to play every second during the rehearsal. I have seen many students really get tired giving their all during a band rehearsal and suffering after.
My own fatigue of this kind disappeared almost without me thinking about it, or it may have been either the beginning or the end of a cold or an allergy problem.
I think that not playing for many years is part of the discomfort and that given time it will leave you in peace.
Good luck.
Sherman Friedland

Notes on the Kegelstatt Trio, by Mozart(K498)

June 1, 2008

Kegelstatt is a German word meaning ‘playground for skittles’, skittles being a precursor of bowling. The (unproven) legend is that Mozart composed the trio while playing skittles.

The first movement of this work which I have both played and recorded more thanI can remember has a tempo of 6 beats, not two. This is of course contrary to what many say but is the result of a considerble amount of study, both of Mozarts works (there is a piano trio with the same kind of ‘written-out” turns, obviously to be played more slowly ) and the question of why each turn is written out? If the original manuscript has only the turn marked and not written, some support may be made for the movement in two(however the manuscript has them written out as well). Finally, after the initial difficulty with a slow tempo, (things must be played really in-time, which the “turns” are never ) and all phrases must be finished, tapered and artistically rendered, the first movement emerges as slow and rather stately, offering a contast to the other movements which are quicker. The proportions of the performance are than more generous, the work not presented as a flip quick melodious plaything.

I would add that this is not the “given” for this movement, but I am convinced it is the more musical and logical. It is also considerably more difficult then throwing turns off as they usually are. Try playing them exactly intime and you are probably “on” to the reason for the “in two” tempo usually played for the first movement.
The big trap of playing it in two is that it makes the first and second movements frequently in similar tempo, which for me is to be avoided.

Sherman Friedland