Searching for the magic Mouthpiece:Part II

Originally, this second part was to include a complte set of measurements for serveral different types of mouthpieces, but that would leave with many opinions of what to play,or what certain of you do or wish to play, but I cn do better, and really ,so can you.
I think a logical series of steps will be the very best advice I can give, mostly because logic is such an important part of learning, especially after you learn to play. How and sometimes if you proceed depends on logic to a large degree.

The first thing you may wish to ask yourself, is what do I wish to sound like, or perhaps whom do I wish to…….? Or you may wish to start with , What can a mouthpiece fix about my playing?

Many years ago Bonade put out a little pamphlet published I think by Leblanc in which he has a few simple things about mouthpieces. I believe them.
He suggested that all students play a medium mouthpieces in all respects. And he also suggested that a mouthpiece selected must immediately play better than that which one was using. I can agree to that largely, but not fully, because my best mouthpiece didn’t attract me in the least when first I tested it; it was my wife, from the next room who asked, “what’s that/” It was a GG-1 crystal mouthpiece, made by the Pomarico in Argentina and it cost me 6 bucks, and it was a mouthpiece that turned me into what I think was a much better clarinetist. After getting used to it, virtually nothing gave me problems and the sound was exactly as I conceived. Was that an exception?Not necessarily.Lots of times, an “extra set of ears”, especially of someone that you can trust completely will better than your own, and in this case it was true. Yes, it was broken during the intermission of a chamber music concert by a guy who played second fiddle in the Concordia Orchestra, but at that time I didn’t care, went home at intermission, got my spare crystal, (which also cost me 6 bucks, and finished the concert).(The second fiddler strangely disappeared and was never heard of or from) Then, I searched for another mouthpiece for the better part of 20 years, which I found in the Richard Hawkins “R”. Hawk is truly a wonderful mouthpiece craftsman.

Anyway, back to choosing a mouthpiece and logic.

One that you choose should immediately play better. Set it aside. Whenever you return to it,it should always be an improvement
Then, choose a mouthpiece which plays more reeds than its predecessor.
Plays better and plays more reeds.
Pitch is indeed quite important and one has to make sure that the thing plays well in tune for you, check with a meter.Octaves and twelfths are good to slowly try, because those intervals played slowly and legato will help with the other criteria already noted.

Somewhere at this point, after being sure that the new mouthpiece does those things in your list, think about also getting a spare which plays the same or almost the same.You will find thatall of the criteria change, and you will find that troubling.However , it is only because a natrually flexible player changes automatically when he changes mouthpieces. One of the hundreds of things a sensitive musicians just does.

That’s why it is good to get that first new mouthpiece and make sure it is the one. You ought to mark it on the cork; you’ll know which it is that way.

To conclude, here is a story shared with me by Tom Kenny, one of the worlds greatst horn players, first for Szell for many years. Tom loves cars, Yes, used cars.
He told me, “you cannot tell if a car burns oil until you’ve had it for 30 days”

Nothing can be closer to perfect truth. Used cars as well as their sellers are unscrupulous to the extrreme. Try the mouthpiece as you would one of Tms used cars.
If it doesn’t burn oil after thirty days, go  to the auditionand win first chair.

best always, Sherman

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