“The mouthpiece and the law and the ethics of mastery till now”

(Gentle Readers:this is a complicated question made somewhat under the influence by the questioner, but I’ve tried toturn it so that the musical and ethical is answered. Because of the “stream of consciousness” style, I’ve added little, save for the occasional comma after the word “right”)


Dear Mr. Friedland

I was looking at my mouthpiece and doing tonguing exercises on it and I came across an idea that maybe I might be taking in too much mouthpiece. I played with less mouthpiece and I couldn’t even get a sound. Do you think that this is normal? I remember when I started I couldn’t get down to the low notes but after I got used to it got better. What did you feel me on that? Then I switched over to saxophone and I took in more mouthpiece. Swiftly I said I might be able to get better too on the clarinet mouthpiece. So when I picked up the clarinet again I applied the same principles from the Saxophone. And I have been playing and playing and playing and playing right ,so what about the embouchure.I think it’s like a 1/4 tip that your mouth should be in but I go more just like the Sax. I think it has to do what I done naturally that kind of made it hard to build muscle around the gut feeling of doing it right.

So get this I tried less mouthpiece ah I know not too much right a 1/4 I’m not supposed to say. I think I am in the wrong.
So what about school do you think that I have a shot of becoming a no one knows how to talk about that type of stuff. I’m so angry. And I think I’m hearing voices that aren’t there that’s better. So what about school. I need loans? What about passion. I think that I have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to landing a job in education because I once said it was about the money. I like basketball and that seems to be about the same passion. What would I do about passion? I feel like I can’t even hear myself think. Any way about the subject matter in0 this rant I feel better about myself since then and no one knows better other than yourself right. So let me just compensate but I am afraid to become a doodler. I’m afraid of society because people don’t understand the business about music. I’m lying right now by the way. I just feel like the clarinet mouthpiece is one hard thing to make an acceptable sound. I feel like my whole God awful attitude is around making a sound right, so when? When can we as a society all behave without talking about my disorder. I take pills right and I do stuff and hang out and talk like a madman for crying out loud. And it is good fun. But I don’t want to get arrested over fiscal matters. I think it has to do with everything. I am a Pot head right so anything I say seems fuzzy to me so I stopped and my memory is coming back to me. And I won’t fall because I swear that Pot is trying to kill me. So I talk about the mouthpiece right and I have a reed and blow right, but there are so many  undertones or overtones behind the actual idea of practice. I think I can succeed if I stay away from the Pot. I’m thirsty now right and I want to play on the mouthpiece right so my embouchure is set and I blow you see there it goes again more und1erstones. Ok I blow right, and I’m never going to get used to all of these  undertones to even do the things I like without some guilt. But there is passion lot’s of it. And it guides you through the actual music, right. I know I know I am a failure I know I know but the God’s honest truth is that I never feel like one eh ok maybe only sometimes but then I lie you see. Any how double tounging for instance. I have this one recording and he uses double tonguing to get through this one passage. And It sounds nice right so I try on my horn fine right, so I get up and ask God to give me a break right, but every time I am in the middle of a tough practicing routine right ,like my mother she stops me right, and then I have all of this anxiety because I was disturbed on my time of the clock right. Hard work since then right ,so get this I answer the phone ah there it goes again shaking n stuff like that stuff I say right, too bad it’s not s— like that. So then there I got it of even more than the Almighty Lord right I’m talking disturbed spirits man. I was working the Weber Concerto. The first one. I have everything down except for the go for it right and I had it in sight. Cmon give me a break I had it in sight on my old horn. I even sold it right. So get this, I sell the horn because I didn’t get my stimulus check go figure where passion passion or emotion or what ever you want to call it leads you to do things for survival. But then I think who in the world gave you permission to play the clarinet in the first place my man swftly and in a jocular manner I say again 1my man my man. You see there it goes again. No it was’nt God’s calling to p11111lay the clarinet it’s to become a deacon remember. So any way I’m stuck here left with myself questioning emotions. So I guess you’re not supposed to have any great emotions right only little ones I suppose, right. So I got first chair in the orchestra one day and spoof there went the ego of every man eating flesh  right so I say I don’t dese0rve this I can’t. So I wing it right and then I’m stuck here with all of this ego man. I’ts tearing us apart. So I go for the act again you see my mother says to me it sounds too loud there happy now I dissed ya. Yeah well if you just left me alone maybe I would be able to listen to myself other than these interuptions right so I go hey go f— righ1t in Italian mind you so I say this s— man I can’t chill. I like this day you see now. Big shot look out. So I go how are you to everybody right, and then I say to myself who are you right and they go get the police for that one in there. I go again. Is that somebody’s elses passion or is the fridge.
Lately I have been wondering about myself and I came to understand life without money right so I got a job and things seem better but they help so right I go to my boss and then he starts  — right everyones gotta know, right. but just don’t sue the son of a b—- right so he goes and tells half the world this side of the pentagon that I have all of these issues man. I think it’s the clarinet the actual belief of knowing someone along the way and not taking responsibilty for all of that Pot smoking. So I go just great all that practicing for nothing. I’ll get it back where you never had it mind you. No I see once before I started doing that campaign when I seen the light at the end of the tunnel with just the music right and of course the standard liberal art courses right, so I go great go look at that I am not only a whole in the whole if looks could and if not the death of a man be converted and live but that he be saved then die. HAHA I said to myself now here’s a start for me. Mad starts though and mad starts you feel me? So I sold my horn right and now I am left with out one right and it feels like a sad day for the roman empire the glory of truth the peace from him who calls himself the leader of the market if looks could kill I say to myself. So then I get down and and eat and run into all of the clarinet world yes you know how we roll real sexual feines about it since now at least and I still don’t now if it be a right move for me economically. I am convinced about one thing but for one thing is assurned I am crazy. Right, so I am sort of now finding myself at this new begining and wish to pursue the double lip embouchure because it’s an alternative. Right ,somone else sad that though. And a 1/4 inch might not be enough of mouthpiece. So I can conclude. What do you think about waiting for my potential to come around?


Dear Frank:

Have you spewed it all out? It’s not really all that bad. Your issues are you are not sure how much mouthpiece to take into your mouth when you play the clarinet and also if it is the same amount that you take in for the saxophone. That’s reasonable and a question that’s easily answered.

But you confuse the whole issue by getting stoned, really high on pot, no doubt.
You know, I and perhaps all of us have been there. Pot is a change of everything ,including embouchure and the passion you mention. And without trying to preach, Pot leads to more of the same. Doubtless, it’s great fun. But it doesn’t answer your questions about mouthpiece, sound ,embouchure on either the clarinet or the saxophone, or have you sold one or the other or even both.
My experiences in your current universe are/were similar. Getting high when you’ve learned to play makes you feel as if everything you play is greater. Not,great, but greater. The problem is however that you don’t know; you really can’t tell, because your perception is altered and you are somewhat disorderly in your thinking.
If you get blown away when you have NOT learned to play it can be total bedlam within the confines of your head. That’s why they call it “blown away”
Outside of the apparent euphoria there is no discernment. You are floating and cannot think of amounts of mouthpiece, reeds, instruments or almost anything. It’s not a good place to be when you are still learning to play, and even worse when you’ve learned. “Passion”, as you mention it, has nothing to do with discipline, and as a student who has not yet achieved his or her technic, you find yourself in what I call real “tiger country”, which is described by thinking about being lost in some space somewhere. It has nothing to do with the achieving of discipline, which is one of the first building blocks of a technic on any instrument. As I and many others have been told by a great musician and teacher Nadia Boulanger, there can be no freedom (read passion) without discipline.
If I go back to the amount of mouthpiece to take in with either clarinet or saxophone, the answer is always your ear. Take in too much, and you will be very sharp and unable to control many or any aspect of the sound,(read embouchure). Too little and your sound will diminish actually, and what there is will be rather indiscernible.
We desire to learn to play a wind instrument, a wind reed instrument and it is not a comedic thing. It is totally serious and the first part of your talent is the ability to use your ear in order to learn what it is you wish to accept and to make your own. Of course,one must trace what it is within ones sensibility that dictates, “I want to play the clarinet, or the saxophone”
You have heard these instruments and they connect with you . Perhaps it is the part of the range of music or sound that you hear well or discern. I’ve never been able to discern what it was with me.
I just wanted to play the clarinet. I had the sound of Benny in my head and I was in the Jazz Club in High School, and suddenly I found there was a band and an orchestra, with a place to play. That appealed to me. My parents were in that group that felt that nothing be worse than being a musician and felt that all musicians walk the streets and never make anything out of life.
So, I decided that I would prove them wrong. My goal was simply to make a life and a living from the clarinet. That’s all I wanted. But it was a goal. I wanted to prove them wrong (and indeed I did).
But first I had to love the clarinet and then music, works of music which lead me to understand that I could identiy with PASSION and after a while, that I could bring this PASSSION (as you call it) into my playing. But it was not without a long road of serious discipline. That’s what you have got to concentrate upon. Achieving discipline on your horn or your horns( if in fact, you still own them).
Pot is fun, lots of it, but if you do not know how to play you have a long road to travel with discipline until you achieve the fun(control) without the pot.
You learn to take mouthpiece into your mouth by listening with your ears, the pitch you achieve and the purity of sound that the right amount will bring you. Every emboucure is completely different, yours too.
So, I thank you for your long discourse on “mouthpiece and the law and the ethics of mastery until now.”And, as far as loans are concerned, they are never given for anything save a display of discipline, never cannabis. But what you are talking about is discipline pure and simple. It is the first step. Fun can happen with pot or without it, but first you have to have and achieve the discipline, That leads you on to the road to mastery.
Good luck and keep straight, and practicing.


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