What is an adjustable Thumb Rest? Are some serious?

October 29, 2008

I have never played the clarinet with an adjustable thumb rest until very recently when I purchased an Arioso Clarinet, then a Lyrique.These instruments, as is well known are made of hard rubber.Ebonite has a sweeter less strident response than does wood, any wood. I have found that the material and the excellent intonation and even quality of sound engineered by Tom Ridenour are among the best clarinets I have played. Actually they are a beautiful sounding clarinet, fun to play, and just about ideal.

They are outfitted with an adjustable thumb rest.  Defining adjustable means a thumb rest that is placed at exactly the place of the ordinary thumb rest. That is to say, parallel with the key-cup of the B/F#, or perhaps  very slightly below. At this very point it sould be at its midpoint of its adjustable mechanism, meaning it can be raised or lowered from the placement of the ordinary thumb rest. Then we would have an actual adjustable thumb rest. The thumb rest on both my Arioso and Lyrique clarinets are identical. One must lower the adjustment in order to get the thing close to the ordinary position. If not, the index and second finger will brush past the keys of the clarinet. Before you criticize the writer, remember that I have ordinary or short fingers and that I have been a successful clarinetist for more than 60 years. I have tried thousands of clarinets, both as a teacher, and as a clinician for the Selmer Company. The thumb rest of both the Lyrique and the Arioso are too high and cannot be lowered, and, they are placed in such a way as to have ones middle finger brush against the fork F# key when passing it. It is a small amount but, since I moved mine, it is much better.

Finally, I have come upon a correct adjustable thumb rest, one that is adjusted at the midpoint and able to be moved either up or down, a simple beautifullly designed adjustable thumb rest.

I have been through really agonizing difficulty with the Arioso and Lyrique thumb rests and I have sent both clarinets back to Mr. Ridenour, however he is loathe to fix or replace them. This is similar to his refusal to change that inane and insane thermonuclear register key, which does nothing but get in the way. I have stopped playing my Lyrique because I have others that play better and are more comfortable for my fingers.

I still love the clarinet , play it each and every day, still play new music and am thoroughly annoyed with supposed “down-home” kind of people disguising real intellects refusing to accept anything against their original idea.

Best wishes, keep practicing.



The thumb rest is usually located perhaps a millimeter or two below the key which is part of the f#/b, sometimes called the fork fingering. But, the thumb rest is supposed to be adjustable from this mid-position either up or down. On the Lyrique clarinet, it must be lowered as far down as possible  in order to accomodate my thumb position and it is still barely low enough. This thumb rest is also too narrow and is a badly shaped thing,too big and held down by three screws. Frankly , I have great fingers and have played for more than 60 years and I cannot get comfortable with this brutish contrivance. I have asked Tom to move it or change it, but I find him unwilling to change or move it, and finally have given up. I was fed up with the horn because of discomfort until I came across a properly constructed adjustable thumb rest, beautifully engineered, perfectly contoured and located so that it can be either raised or lowered.

How many of you out there with these adjustable thumb rests find them convenient? Frankly I wonder about the idea of them in the first place. My question is simply why? So many wonderful players never had an adjustable thumb rest. Is this thing some kind of gimmick as are so many others now being made for clarinetists? I wonder. S

A note from Tom Ridenour

This is an issue we need to discuss and I’m in the process of doing it. It may take a while  but it will be done..


Conservatoire Americain, Fontainebleau, France

October 26, 2008

Being of  a certain  age and experience, one reminisces for the most important,poignant, sad or character-building experiences. This leads me to bring up my times at the American Conservatory in Fointainebleau, about 42 miles from Paris.

This is actually  group of schools for American Students located within the walls of this   Chateau that goes back to the time of Napolean and  before (It actually existed as a smaller hunting Chateau during the time of Francois, le 1st.). It was founded as an American School in 1921 and as far as I know is still in existance today.

I attended Fontainebleau during the summers of 1960, 61, and 1963, the last with the Woodwind Quintet of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in residence at Fontainebleau.

It all started with Rosario Mazzeo and his burgeoning-in-popularity Mazzeo System clarinet, which I played at the time, and still   consider to be a great innovation in clarinet design. Rosie was my teacher, my friend, and my mentor(when in agreement).

Rosario wanted me to enter the International Geneva Competition for Clarinet in that year, which I readily agreed to do. One morning I found that I was called to the treasurers office of the New England Concservatory, and arriving there, was told that I had received an anonymous donation, which was a trip to Europe. I never knew the source of the gift. I then had the wherewithall to go to Geneva, however it didn’t end there. It was thought that I should have some time to aclimatize myself to Europe prior to the Competition. I then received a call from the composer Daniel Pinkham, who was my Music Lit. teacher at NEC to attend a “tea” at the home of Winifred Johnstone in Back Bay. Arriving there one afternoon with Mr. Pinkham, I was introduced to Miss Johnstone and a friend by Mr. Pinkham and we had a rather formal “tea”. During the course of the conversation, I was asked if I might be interested in attending the American Conservaotry in Fontainbleau, France for that coming summer. Of course I was interested and then received a letter saying that I had received a scholarship to attend.

I boarded the chartered plane for France, (it was the time of TWA, and we stopped in Shannon, Ireland for an hour or so, and then went on to Paris. (this was alomst 50 years ago. My gosh, where does the time go?)

Upon my arrival, I immediately got lost at the airport and wound up on a bus of pilgrims going to some shrine somewhere, whose name I have forgotten. I guess I had been told that I would be staying at the Hotel Launoy, located across the way from this very imposing Chateau de Fontainebleau.

The Launoy was a seedy old place, replete with bulletholes from the war and very primitive toilets. Bit it was picturesque to the extreme.( One warm evening I read Dracula and was absolutely transported in time.) The moon was  full and it was an easy transformation.It is an erotic work in places.

Fontainebleau was huge with a big cobblestone courtyard a double spiral stairway at one end and on one of the two sides was the Music School. Meals were provided at a dining hall a few minutes away. France had always been a destination for me to travel, but I had never believed that I would be in such a charming historical setting.

I remember only two of the teachers there, of course Nadia Boulanger being the most memorable , an incredibly gifted an astute teacher and musician who had had literally every famous American Composer as her student and many less talented aspirants as well. Fontainebleau was sometimes called a place to go to “hang out” in the summer while you visited Europe, which it certainly was for some, but for me it turned out to an opportunity of a lifetime. Why? Because I met one of the great people of 20th Century music in the person of Mademoiselle Boulanger and further, that she loved my playing. When I first met her, she immediately asked me to play several Stravinsky excerpts from his most famous ballets, which I did easily, which I think made me real for her. Then I was to attend every class of hers that I could and also to attend all of the classes of the great Annette Dieudonne in Solfeggio, where I excelled and was always called upon to recite rhythmic examples, which none of the others could. The reason for this is simple: They were all singers.(Clarinetists are bad enough. They only know clarinet and clarinet music, and only that music from the 19th and 20th centuries.) However singers only know pitches, when fortunate, and sometimes not even those.

Things went exceptionally well for me. I loved the dining hall which served wonderful breakfasts with that other-worldly French bread, which I have never found again, not exactly. (In truth, my poor wife tried to make this bread for me countless times. I think it  must have been  the ovens in which the bread was baked, though I’ll never know. Also, the hot chocolate was exceptional and unforgettable. There were many many young people there,all of whom were gifted beyond my experinece at the time. Kids under the age of ten or slightly over, like Robert (bobby) Levin, who became my friend, who is now an excellent and reknown “in demand” early music player of Mozart and teaches at Harvard.He was 13 and would repeat entire concerts of new music after hearing it only once at the piano. One time he learned the piano part of the Berg Violin Concerto in an afternoon and playing it that night for an “after-dinner” concert. It was incredible and this kind of playing of all instruments by young kids became the norm for me. Pianists in abundance of all ages who played beautifully.

When I heard that there were these concerts performed after  dinner, which Boulange attended,I immediately began rehearsing the Brahms Eb Sonata. The young woman who played the piano part ,Harriet, her last name escapes me, but she was perfect, and actually gave me the standard for every pianist with whom I ever played. Part prepared perfectly, first rehearsal, no rhythm problems or techncal problems. That is what she was.

Later on, this kind of standard was to present me with all kinds of problems, for I never found another pianist like her, save maybe Claude Francaix, the daughter of Jean Francaix with whom I had a close friendship and who played a bit better than did her father, who was also perfect. This all sounds like exaggeration I know, but this is what my memory tells me. Or maybe it was a very happy time. France, 1960, a beautiful summer, a palace and the guidance and respect of one of the greatest of 20th century teachers.

Back to Boulanger and that first after-dinner concert and the Brahms Eb Sonata. During the recaptitulation of the first movement, with the clarinet and piano in triplets in pianisso, Boulanger was heard to whisper, “Ah, but this is wonderful”.

WOW. What else can I say? She was the first person to separate me from everyone and call me a great artist.I later played master classes with her on the Mozart Concerto, with her playing the piano part. She became a kind of mentor advising me on how to conduct myself at the Geneva Competition.

She told me to play one of the selected works, by the head of the Concervatoire, M.Gagnebin.She also told me “not to expect too much”Her words were prophetic and true. Actually, along with her suggestions I played the Eugene Bozza Clarinet Concerto, easily the most difficult work within the list. I was the only one to choose this work. We all played behind a screen. I was asked to come to play by my name, which surprised me. How could it be behind a screen if they knew my name? Immediately following my playing, someone cameup to me and told me that they didn’t like the “American way” of playing. I was eliminated. I stayed to hear the others feeling terribly sorry for myself. My memory is that they sounded like decent to good students, no more. But who knows about memory? I know I played well, however I played with consideralbe vibrato and what I considered to be imaginative phrasing and change of tonal color. But then again, I have learned many things since then, and have played many many concerts and works and incidentally I do not use vibrato save for occasional places, if at all. We all learn.

All in all, I had a wonderful summer and asked Mademoiselle if I could return the next summer.Again, I received a letter informing me that I was to be given a scholarship to return to Fonainebleau.My “thank you” letter was to go to Prince and Princess Ranier of Monaco. That was Grace Kelly and her husband,(Boulanger having prepared the music for their wedding)  It was an honor. The second summer I was asked to play many works and also got to coach almost the entire clarinet repertoire with Mademoiselle in her apartment on the second floor.

Finally, while  Priincipal Clarinet with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, I had the idea of having the whole Woodwind Quintet of the Orchestra in residence at Fonainebleau. I wrote to Boulanger and she agreed.But I had to get the funds for transport and living while there.In one excruciating telephone call with Nadia Boulanger, I was able to achieve that residency. Naturally the quintet was a good quintet however we were beset by many difficulties, too gossipy to review here. (But ask me sometime)They included Roland Pandolfi,(who played Principal Horn in St Louis for 30 years, and now teaches at Oberlin) Sandra Flesher, Oboe, David Beadle, Bassoon and Gerald Carey,Flute. (For many reasons, probably all me, playing in that quintet was like a knife fight in a telephone booth.)

If there are those who read these words, Fonainebleu is a wonderful summer of great music and I have literally thousands of wonderful stories to tell , concerts to remember and memories. (ask me sometime.)

Keep practicing.


Roger Voisin, Principal Trumpet, Boston Symphony

October 19, 2008

Roger Voisin, (who died at age 89 last February in Newton, Mass), was my teacher, one of my teachers at the New England Conservatory of Music during my education there. He was a great player, and individual kind of player, a player with a signature sound and musicality which I will never forget . Nor will anyone who ever heard him play or studied with him. I first met him at a party at his home one evening. I can’t remember how and if I was invited, but there I was being treated with the greatest of charm and respect. I think many of them were students.

There was a lot of alcohol, and there was Fondue and there was his wife Martha, and a good deal of very relaxed talk. I was impressed to be there, for this fellow was the Principal Trumpet of the Boston Symphony Orchestra! He sounded like a million dollars every time he played, but more than that he was so very decent to all of us. I studied orchestral playing with him in a class . We would read everything there was  regardless of the makeup of the class and he would conduct. There was more learning, more instruction in that class than I have ever been around in my life. We would play out of solfegio books in many different clefs at the same time, or same exercise switching to perhaps a half dozen different clefs during one exercise. Then he would conduct something like Le Sacre du Printemps and we would each play our parts, perhaps as few as a dozen players. It was truly memorable. I have never had or experienced teaching like that, at that level except perhaps with Madeamoiselle Boulanger, also a truly great teacher.

Frankly, I have been called many different things because of my complete and utter scorn for bad playing and teaching, which I have found is in abundance and fostered in many places, or perhaps accepted is the word.

But these teachers at NEC at the time included Fernand Gillet, Principal oboe of the BSO, Gaston Durfresne for solfege, with whom Roger gimself had studied, and Rosario Mazzeo, Bass Clarinetist of the Boston Symphony, with whom I studied for 6 years. There were others as well and the standards were very high without ever being talked about, which is only talked about in many universities these days.

There were many less players around then and there were positions to be had and many of us achieved positions during those years of the 50s and 60s.

One time, one Friday afternoon I was walking past Rogers studio and he saw me and called me in. I had my clarinet and he asked me to help him warm up for the orchestra concert that Friday afternoon. So we played duets, and I was in awe. I remember he had a little elctric meter  which measured the exact attack each time he would articulate a note. Just one note, mind you, and the thing would go to the exact same place on the meter.He was that meticulous a player; I don’t think I was ever so impressed with a player or a teacher.

Roger also conducted the Chamber Orchestra at the time and I was asked to play many times in workds like Divertissement by Jacques Ibert and the Stravinsky Ragtime. Perform, perform, perform, that was all we did.

For those Friday afternoon concerts by the BSO we would all get tickets, which were usually complimentary. Concertgoers who could not make the concert would phone in their ticket numbers to the office of NEC and these were given to students. So, we were always there, and all the time. We sat in the second balcony, as close to our teachers as was possible. And they knew we were there, the sight lines were so incrediblly good in Symphony Hall. Once, before a big solo, ( I think in the Sorcerers Apprentice of perhaps the Ravel Piano Concerto, he would take a handkerchief and put it over his fingers as if to hide from our prying eyes, with a wink and always that gorgeous most beautiful and perfect execution.

He knew all there was to know about the trumpet in the orchestra and the orchestra itself, and I will always remember his integrity, his charm and his playing and teaching with great fondness.

As time went on , there came a new music critic for the Boston Globe. His name was Michael Steinberg. Steinberg started writing about the Boston Symphony in a critical manner, especially centering on Roger Voisin, his vibrato especially and of course ,his sound. Somehow his opinions began to hurt Mr. Voisin and I think it broke his heart. I’m sure it did mine and the rest of us who so admired his playing. I think it actually lead to his relinquishing his principal position,* which he had held for many years to Armando Ghitalla, who had a beautiful sound.. But Mundy as he was known to us, seemed not as consistant as was Voisin.But Mr. Ghitalla was certainly a superb performer. The reviews in the Boston Globe for me were disgraceful. Steinberg didn’t last all that long with the Globe, but long enough to have destroyed a career. But Roger Voisin will always be for me, and I’m sure for many many , one of the great heros of our education and certainly of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

keep practicing.

Sherman Friedland

the story seems to change with the passage of time. I’ve heard that Mr Ghitall was hired and that mr Voisinagreeable moved to playing third in order to give the new player time . S.F

Buying online, Used and/or new

October 12, 2008

Many people regard buying clarinets online as being inherently a bad idea. It can be indeed very very bad, however with the “Caveat Emptor” in mind, it is a very interesting prospect.

First and possibly foremost, it gives you an opportunity to scrutinze the market, for either used or new instruments. In the case of instruments that have been played , there are crucial things to watch out for. Always look at the place from which  you are considering a purchase. If they have literally thousands of “feedback”, as they’re called, be very careful, for they could be a pawn shop. These places are not necessarily bad, however you are always taking a chance when you buy because you never know exactly what it is that you are purchasing, how much it has been used, its condition, the condition of the material from which the instrument is made, the make, the age, the general condition. Perhaps your first step should be to see close- up photographs of the instrument. This should give you a very clear idea of the general condition of the finish and of the rings and keys. I would stop if you see pitted keys and/or rings, for they are irreperable and would need replacements or at least replating which can be prohibitive. Cracks are not all that important if they have been repaired properly and do not in any way leak. Sloppy pin placement are also a danger sign. Serial numbers should always match on both large pieces of the clarinet. There are however instances when this is not the case. Yamaha are only marked on the top joint(or the bottom) for if there is a crack, the joint is simply replaced and without a number usually. Frequently however mismatched serial numbers indicate something to avoid, for obvious reasons.

Guarantee is important but can be misleading. If there is anything which is misleading in the ad or description, it is another reason to stay away or to ask for absolute clarity from the seller.

Know the insrument you are buying, the model number and the particular decriptive words. Don’t go near these Yamahas which say things like Hutchen, or Morano, or literally anything , for they are meaningless and are meant to entice you, frequently for no reason or for nefarious reasons.  I have found the model 20 and the 250 are identical; only the price is doubles in the latter. They are plastic.

Wooden Yamaha clarinets are in general very good value. The 34, 52, 60,72,82,84, 450, 650, are all good instruments and actually vary only a bit. I have found the Allegro (or 550) to be a very nice clarinet, quite inexpensive, well made, with a nice case and cover, needless gold plated posts and nice looking silver plated keys. The so-clled high end Yamahs are very good instruments, the CS, and the three-lettered models. The custom models are generally good instrments and can be played professionally.

Leblanc instruments are a special breed. The reason for this is that many were routinely rebored by Leblanc in order to give them a “bigger sound”. What the reboring did was to change the tunng much for the worst. Ordinarily a good Leblanc, say the LL (meaning LeonLeblanc) is a lovely and beautifully tuned and sounding instrument. However if it has been rebored, something which many people cannot discern you are looking at difficulty in tuning. I’ve alway thought that the Leblanc has the best response of all of the French instruments, better than than by Selmer, which is better made and has better value in general, that is to day if they were made in France. The keywork of all SelmerParis instruments is just superior to the others, like Leblanc, Buffet. Yamaha instruments which were until 1970 Nikkan Gakki play very well. The Imperial by Nikkan was simply an R13 clone and a very good one at that, with better tuning. I have one , practically new, which is what I base my opinion on. They became Yamama as stated in 1970 and have maintained excellent quality. I have played and even owned sets of 64,72,82, all excellent clarinets

I cannot comment upon Buffets for the clarinet is extremely uneven and has a rather bad reputation because of so many different owners of the company,however I have played tham and they have a very pleasant quality and reponse. The intonation  is something else. Used Buffets require extreme care in selecting. Many many that I have tried for students have sharp throat notes, flat altissima sharp high C with alarming frequency and the low e is always quite flat. But at the outset, I said that I cannot vouch for them.

Selmer Paris clarinets retain much value for they are still in demand. Because of the Centered Tones slightly wider bore, it has gotten a reputation for Jazz, which is really undeserved, however it was one of their better clarinets. The Series 10 had a slightly smaller bore and better intonation. The 10S was bettr in tune, and the 10SII more of the same. The Recital, had a smaller bore, but a biggerthicker body which had an ecellent response and fine tuning save fore the low register which was flat, the low F expressly.Most Selmer Paris instruments are quite good depending upon the shape in which they were kept.

I have found buying new instruments from dealers on line, the so-called “big-box”companies to be a real joy. They mostly have a 45 day period inwhich to try the instrument. If you don’t like it, you get an immediate refund, minus a few dollars for whatever they call it. 45 days is 6 weeks and that should be enough time to make a good decision. I have never ever been disappointed with this online buying. Actually it is much much better than the online auctions, which are really like a safari into unknown places.

I have purchased many instruments from places like ebay with no problem, mostly because I think I know what to “look for”. But the best thing about any online used clarinet auction is to find a price that seems to be within the high and low prices for othes of its kind. It’s a good place to shop, if you knw what you are shopping for, and a good place to determine a price for something you wish to sell.


Best wishes, 



Avoid, if photos don’t show the rings, or they are pitted. Clarinets turned upside down in the case photo can mean trouble. Clear photos should be demanded, or don’t bid. More photos are better than less, but do not be mislead. Cracks are not all that important because there have been advances in repairing them, but crucial cracks can be terrible , something to avoid, especially if open(and leaking). The clarinet should look good, show shine and sheen, and cloeup of wear areas. If not, stay away. There are always plenty of others.

Appraising your clarinet

October 7, 2008

One just needs to take a look at the last few postings of this site to determine that I get many requests each day for what is finally, an appraisal of the clarinet in question. This is not an easy task, it may be impossible especially if ones want the appraisal done from afar and “in the dark”, so to speak.

Occasionally one senses an air of mistrust in the request as if perhaps the request comes from a person who is in possession of the “Hope Diamond” or some such item of incalculable value.

First of all, it’s only a clarinet, and as a rule, a clarinet doesn’t appreciate. In fact the opposite is the case. There are of course, several exceptions.

If the clarinet is reasonably new and was supposedly a “professional” instrument initially, the value increases. Many clarinets are called “professional” but the word is never defined; in fact, it needs definition.

Professional means many things: Well-made is perhaps first and foremost and includes being in tune. So, how do you tell if it’s in tune? You get an opinion, and they vary really terribly. You go to a professional , someone who makes their livliehood by playing the clarinet,and the standard is within the world of so-called Classical music. Not that there are not many jazz musicians who can hear and play well in tune. It’s really more of a tradition.

A clarinet is not like a diamond which has all kinds of variations as to color, cut, quality. While a clarinet has variations there are fewer of them than diamonds and repeating the first rule: they do not appreciate. Diamonds do.

Let us say,you need to know worth because it has been a gift to you or to your organization and you can use it some way for your taxes either as donor or donee; the best thing would be to get a statement from a professional (see above) on her or his letterhead (something that determies position, say in an orchestra, or with a University.) Then you send the letter to your tax people  making the claim for the amount of worth stated by the appraisal.

You also make comparisons using ebay, an auctionsite that has more instruments than at which you can shake a stick, and even though its unwritten motto is “Caveat Emptor”, (buyer beware), at least you can view many intsruments, more than anyplace else for general comparison.

Keeping the reputation that ebay has in your mind, (whatever you thinK it is)you begin to get a picture.


Cracks and/or the lack of them are important, however a crack does not have to be pinned any longer because many just fill the crack and seal it and it is impossible to tell. In the case of an open crack, then of course your are in “tiger country”. 

Finish is also of considerable importance, most important being wear on the rings; if the rings are worn or if pitted, you may as well forget about it because unless it was owned by Brahms or his clarinetist Richard Muhlfeld, it is practically worthless.

Clarinets made in France are in general worth more than those made in the US because few instruments of quality were and/ or are made in the US, which is basically a student market. Clarinets are always stamped with the place of manufacture, and have standard known names, like Selmer, Buffet, Leblanc, or Yamaha. Clarinet mad in the UK ar worth less than those made in France, mostly because there is a slightly different way of playing and was until a few years ago a different sound as well as different tuning.

Mouthpieces are in general unimportant, though there can be deviations from that sub-rule. If you have an old horn with a mouthpiece that says Kaspar or other known names, you investigate, but more, you play or have the mouthpice played. They are greatly over rated and there is almost a mystique around them and many students think they have found the “fountain of music” if they have one, however there is a placebo effect with a “name ” mouthpiece that is mostly all there is and it goes away fast, so all one os left with is the credit card bill and little else.

As is usual, I hope that this will offer some help.Basically a clarinet by definition does not appreciate. But keep those cards and letters coming, folks. As you know ,all are answered.

Sincerely, Sherman Friedland

Tempero-Mandibular Joint TMJ Disorders

October 5, 2008
Dear Mr Friedland:
My daughter is a 4th year performance major in college and was diagnosed with TMJ about 2 months ago. An MRI showed nothing other than muscular problems.
Have you any literature or suggestions of how to find literature on this topic?  Are there clarinetists at different stages of their education/career that develop this problem and is there literature about different ways to correct it?
Thank you for your time and assistance.
I am writing to you (instead of my daughter) because of all of the school work and practice time she has right now).
Sincerely, PP


Date: October 5, 2008 5:54

Dear PP: First, I would like to say that TMJ is a tricky diagnosis. Having suffered it as a clarinetist and my wife as a pianist is why I mention “tricky”. It varies for almost everyone and there is   a lot of information out there, however it all depends upon whom you ask. Be very careful concerning your quest for an explanation for your daughter, as without disc damge, she may not have TMJ at all. And also exercise care prior to any drugs and/or surgery is undertaken. I would  ask who made the diagnosis and why was it TMJ? Here is a website for your information:



The temporomandibular joints connect the jawbone to the skull. Located at the sides of the head near each ear, these joints play an essential role in eating, speaking, and making facial expressions. In fact, the temporomandibular joint ( TMJ) is one of the most frequently used and complex joints in the entire body.

TMJ disorder can develop when one or both of the temporomandibular joints stop functioning properly. This may happen due to any number of causes and may result in chronic ear pain, jaw stiffness and soreness, difficulty opening the mouth, jaw popping or clicking, and headaches. Sufferers of TMJ disorder may experience either sharp pain or a dull, constant ache. Because the causes and symptoms of TMJ disorder are so varied, the condition is typically classified into three main sub-categories:

  • Myofacial pain
  • Internal derangement of the joint
  • Inflammatory joint disease


Here is an actual case of a flutist:

“I was diagnosed with TMJ over a year ago and I have tried to ameliorate it with the use of a night guard, a modified diet, physical therapy twice a week, and yoga. I am trying to finish a master’s degree in flute performance (this is my last semester). Playing the flute for fourteen years (for up to 10 hours a day) and clenching my teeth have been the cause of my TMJ. Recently, the pain has become excruciating not only when I am playing, but all the time. Through an MRI, I learned that I have slipped both of the discs that are between my lower and upper jaw (The discs might very well be perforated, too). My best options (as stated by my oral surgeon) are steroid injections and arthroscopic surgery. I had to withdraw from all of my classes on disability– except for the final requirement for my degree: an hour long flute recital. I truly do not think I can last an hour, let alone do all of the practicing required to prepare for the performance. I have been told by several doctors and physical therapists that I could be doing even more damage to my joints if I continue preparing for this recital (the date is set for April 20th,1999). One even suggested that I end my career as a flutist. I want this degree, but not at the cost of totally destroying my jaw and never being able to play the flute again. Should I withdraw completely from college and have the surgery right away? Would it be possible for me to perform a recital, however painful it might be, and then have surgery? Could steroid injections get me through my recital? Must I consider a new career? This is all very frightening for me. Since all of the doctors, physical therapists, and surgeons I have spoken to have different opinions, I honestly don’t know what to do. I do know that the pain is almost intolerable. Please help me”.


More than 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ disorder, a condition that affects the function of the temporomandibular joint, or jaw joint. Despite this fact, TMJ remains one of the most commonly misunderstood areas of dentistry. Please  take note of the multiple opinions out there, and proceed with caution.

I also have an article within my archives on the ailment. I suggest you proceed with caution especially prior to steroids and/or arthroscopic surgery. The bite plate is usually prescribed, but did not help my wife at all. She is a pianist and was experiencing clicking in her jaw and pain as well. Her dentist gave her the bite plate.

What I have suggested to all others is to complete rest the embouchure for as long as possible and following that to begin practice again almost as if you are a beginner. It has worked for me and others, however I may not have had TMJ, nor perhaps did those to whom I recommended complete embouchure rest, prior to resumption.

I hope I have helped you in some way. Good luck to you and to your daughter.


Sherman Friedland


Selmer Signet Clarinet; another early model

October 4, 2008

Dear Mr. Friedland:

A Selmer Signet clarinet (USA – wooden) was donated to my school district by a woman who began her teaching career in 1949. The serial number is 8912,and I can’t find on any website about Signet’s with serial numbers that low.The serial number list on the Selmer site appears to be for saxophones. Do the numbers for Saxes and Clarinets reflect the same years of manufacturing? If so, then this clarinet would have been made in the late 20’s, and Signets were not manufactured until the 40’s, according to several different internet sites about the history of Selmer USA.Can you help me identify the year this clarinet was made?Thanks for your help! 



Dear SM:

Clarinets and saxophones have different numbers.(All Selmer Signets were made from wood).I was asked recently to trace another Signet with an earlier number and found that it was made in approximately 1941. That was the year that the US entered into the second World War and I thought that production wold have been curtailed during that time within the US and certainly in France.  Your clarinet was made in approximately 1946 or 47. Having said that, I must suggest to you that clarinets of that particular make and place of manufacture garner no further value with age. They do not appreciate as in the case of string instruments, (of only certain makes)and the only clarinets that retain any worth(and that is minimal despite todays high cost for new instruments,) are those made in France, that it to say in your case, the Selmer Paris instruments. I would say that the value would be mostly intrinsic.I know that you didn’t ask that specifically, however many do, and I thought it may be of interest to you, if not other readers. As far as playability is concerned, it depends upon the condition of both the original instrument and/or its restored playability.
best regards,

Sherman Friedland


Leblanc Dynamique, 1971. Value depends upon condition

October 2, 2008

Dear Mr. Friedland:

I happened to come across my old clarinet in the attic today.  My mom bought it out of the newspaper for me when I was in middle school.  I am trying to research its value.  It is a wooden G. Leblanc (Paris France) Dynamique w/ the number 5510.  I could not find this number on any of the Leblanc lists I found in my research.  How can I find out what year it was made?  The mouthpiece I have w/ it says D.Bonade (France).  Will the clarinet have a lesser value if the mouthpiece isn’t Leblanc?  Thanks for any help you can give or any advice as to where to research further.
H. D


I found the number as being made perhaps in 1971 0r 72. Leblanc serial numbers are quite difficult to determine though the only 4 digit number near the 5510 seems to have been made then. Of course the important thing about the instrument if that it is a Dynamique, quite a good instrument with a slightly wider bore which is in somewhat of a demand currently. The mouthpiece has not much to do with the clarinet in any event, but the French Bonade mouthpieces were in general not a bad mouthpiece. Without seeing the instruments condition it would be difficult to determine its actual value on todays market. (In a followup, the writer was offered 106 US for the instrument, which looked to be in excellent condition. I responded by saying the horn is worth 3 to 4 times that amount)   

Good luck.
Sherman Friedland   


” We found a Selmer Clarinet in our barn”

October 1, 2008

     We found a Selmer Clarinet in our barn.  I looked up the number on the Selmer website and it states it was made 1941.  The number is 30128.  Our question is how do we know what type it is (center tone, alto, etc.).  I’d like to mention one mouthpiece with the Selmer mark also has an HS with two *’s after it, the other mouthpiece has a “T” over “Goldentone” with a “3” under it.  It is also marked “Signet Special, made by Selmer, Elkhart, Indiana”.  Also, how would we go about cleaning it without causing damage or loss of value? 
    I’d appreciate any help you can provide in the matter.  Thanks!  L.


Hello L:

If the Selmer Website tells you that the instrument was made in 1941, the first idea that I would mention is that this is the year that the US entered the Second World War, marked by the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th. It is first of all, possible that 1941 was not the year of manufacture. In addition , the clarinet is a model made in the USA. If not, it will  state,” made in France”, something to look for immediately. 
The serial numbers of the early US made Selmers are extremely vague, mostly based on the information reported by owners, 1941 being very early in production of the US made clarinets marked Selmer. Personally I have never seen a US Selmer  of that vintage. In addition, I would ask you for a photo of the instrument which, if you can provide, will give me much more information, which I will foward to you.
As to type, there were none of any specific quality from that time.Do you know if it is made of wood? Again a photo will provide me with much more information. The worth of the Selmer trademark is associated mostly with those made in France. Centered Tone, Series 9, 9*, Series 10, the 10G, etc, are all instruments made in Paris and have retained considerable worth. Some US Selmers, specifically the US Omega have interesn, however the few Omegas made in France were better instruments and are categorized by as being similar to the Centered Tone model. All of these of course, depend upon the condition of the instrument.
I was a clinician for the Selmer Comany for many years, but this was before my time. Again a photograph will help in the identification of the instrument. The mouthpieces that are with the instrument may or may not have come with the instrument initially and have no specific value presently. The HS** means that the mouthpiece was made in Paris, made of ebonite and can be cleaned with soap and  warm water, however the facing is what is crucial, which the cleaning will not harm, but surely do not use any abrasive cleaner on any mouthpiece.
So finally, finding your Selmer in a barn may have some clue as to its value, however without a photograph it would be difficult to provide you with more information.
Good luck, Sherman