C Clarinet battle in Seattle

Hello! I have just purchased an inexpensive plastic C clarinet made by “I&K”, from a fellow in Australia.
I am having real difficulties getting some notes to sound, for instance when I play C# with the left pinkie key instead of the right pinkie I just cannot get a note to sound! I am an amateur player who has just started playing again after a 30 year hiatus (now trying Scandinavian folk on the clarinet) – so the problem could be my technique. However, on my Bb clarinet (a Martin Freres wooden clarinet) I have no problem whatsoever with this same fingering.
So, I am wondering, are C clarinets just difficult and I need to work on my technique, or is the clarinet the problem?
Thank you,

Dear BH:
thank you for your note concerning the problem with the C clarinet.
I want to first point out to you and anybody who may be reading this that it is not the fact that the plastic clarinet was inexpensive; nor is the Martin Freres wooden clarinet  that gives you no problems.
It is a very common problem of any C clarinet. One must remember that all of these fingerings are done with the left hand, including the left “pinkie” to play the C#. It is because of the size of the clarinet, (it being smaller) and that you are putting strain on the other fingers of the left hand when you reach for the C#, and when you do, one of the three fingers coverig the rings is slightly displaced, the air column stops at the displaced finger and the C# will not sound. On the Bb this movement is less constricted because there is more room. Also, you are more familiar with the spacing of the Bb clarinet.
On the clarinet, any clarinet, any size, the notes that are played with the right hand little finger will always sound with more ease than the left because they are simply closer to the connecting rods. The left hand reach is further. That’s why you get the right hand C# to speak with greater ease. Always practice the movements of the left hand more than the right in order to have equal control of both hands, or more with the left hand, it being the more difficult, requiring many more motions.
you can try looking  at your fingers move from a mirror on your stand, which will afford you the opportunity of seeing the guilty finger which allows the air to escape.
Good luck in Seattle and keep practicing, and slowly.
best regards, Sherman.


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