Dear Mr. Friedland:
I have a daughter entering 8th grade that plays primarily piano (private lessons-5th year) and clarinet as a second instrument in the school band.
I bought her a Yamaha 250 new about 3 years ago. Next year she will be going to High School, and I keep hearing from other parents that she will need a wood clarinet. Will the 250 do for High School if I buy her a new mouthpiece? (has a 4C). If so, which mouthpiece do you recommend? Also, what is your reed recommendation for 3rd year clarinet players?
These questions you ask pose for me the opportunity of perhaps trying to attempt to help you and your daughter, but hopefully, many others who find themselves in the same position, though perhaps fewer of them have children who play two instruments, with a kind of major and a secondary instrument.
The parents who recommend that she move up to a wooden clarinet. They say “need”. but they imply that wood is a step up situation, which it is not. All of those who move to wood from a more stable material such as ABS or ebonite, (hard rubber) will have more problems than those with which they started. The Yamaha 250 is a perfectly good instrument, though I feel it is overpriced, since it is only a rehash of the model 20, which is virtually the same and much less to buy. But ABS is more stable than is wood. Ebonite is even more stable and has the advantage of being totally impervious to cracking and possessed of a very pleasant response, comparatively speaking, to ABS or to wood.
Not only that but it is much less difficult to acquire from a cost standpoint. I know this because after playing on costly wooden clarinets for years, I play ebonite, in fact the Lyrique clarinet which is distributed by William Ridenour. He is definitely worth a telephone call. He is yes, in business, but he has great integrity and has designed, while chief designer for Leblanc, the best clarinets being produced in France today. But the ebonite he designed is better in tune and much more of a horn for anyone, especially whose who may play long band rehearsals or even march, as well as playing in concert band.
I have no connection to Mr. Ridenour, except that of an admiring colleague.
The more money you pay for a clarinet does not get you long-lasting quality or response. It’s almost the opposite.
While her 250 will suffice, I think that you should consider a mouthpiece as well, that has a better design. The Yamaha 4c is not a bad mouthpiece, but the Fobes “Debut” is much much better and is very economical, and easier to play.
The recommendation for a reed for a third year player is any that will play, because all third years players play differently and so too, do all reeds. Cane reeds are the most variably responding things in the industry. They are getting more costly,while the quality of the cane and the cutting tools are not . Synthetic reeds are on the way and will soon be played by all clarinet players. While they have been around for years, they are just now getting to the point of perfection. I play on a reed called “forestone”, just beginning to appear on the market.I have also been testing some different models for younger players. They shall be appearing soon. They are superb.
I hope I have answered your questions.
Good luck, and with regards to your daughter.