A professional Clarinet

Dear Mr Friedland:

I am currently a high school senior soon-to-graduate. I already been pre-accepted to my colleges that I have applied to; however, I still have to undergo my auditions to be approved by the music department. I am trying to get in to the music departments as a clarinet major. However, I am greatly struck my one problem, and that is my incapability to buy a professional horn due to the financial crisis that my family is currently going through at the moment. I am required a professional horn for my auditions, which are at the beginning of January. My parents have offered to spend up to 600$, perhaps $650, for a clarinet as a Christmas gift spending, and I wanted to ask you, where I can find such clarinet. I have thoroughly searched over ebay, from R-13’s to even the Selmer 9 and 10 series and the CT and BT. However, they all seemed to be quite expensive, and I was wondering if you could give me advices or even other websites that have better deals for offer. This is a rather urgent message, because the clarinet I am currently using is a plastic student model yamaha, which I’ve been playing on for the past 7 years straight, and not only is it required for me to get a professional horn for the college auditions, but a time for me to move on. This is a important matter for me, and I was wondering if you could help me out as soon as possible. Thank you, and I greatly appreciate you reading this message.



Dear Michael:

What is a “Professional” clarinet. When looking about for a definition of the word professional, curiously we see no reference to material things,   simply describing various and sundry types of professions in many different areas of expertise, always of a high quality, high standards of professional ethics, always owing a higher degree of expertise to ones specific profession. And this of course, includes the profession of musician.

Now we find a young man who needs to possess a professional clarinet in order to persuade a music department in a college or university that he or she be permitted to become part of this department.
We have no definition of a “professional” clarinet, but do find a number of qualities a professional must have ,or be able to acquire within a University.

There are however, ample suggestions as to what a professional clarinet might be through a clever slight of hand and mind which defines instead by name or position only, an active player, professionally employed. We use these players by determining what is their current instrument, and the definition begins a circuitous task by definng what a professionals clarinet might be. The connection is made by thinking, “here is a professional player. He or She currently plays the following brand of clarinet: could be any name, the only criterion being the fact that it is being played by a person called professional.

So within North America, we know the following brands of clarinets are known as professional clarinets, not because they may or not be perfectly in tune, have a pleasant enough response or play with ease, when managed by a professional. As we all know, they are called Buffet, or Selmer, or Yamaha, or Leblanc, less popular may be called by many names and may be called professional, but it is never in any way defined to a degree wherein a department calling itself a music department can actually  determine a professional list of clarinets.

I take great issue with the very idea that a university music department might suggest or insist that a student play a certain brand of clarinet

Many of the above named list can be individually very poorly manufactured and unacceptably out of tune.

Let us return to the music department that stipulates an entering student must have a professional clarinet.

It simply doesn’t work, meaning nothing, BUT defining very poorly a list of insruments that may be called professional.

I worked briefly with a well-known music department , one which insisted that all clarinet students play a Buffet clarinet/

The insisting came from the clarinet professor, a mediocre performer at best, with no real experience, no orchestral experience, little teaching except for high school, and a terrible attitude, both sexist and chauvinistic concerning the clarinet. Of course, this person was a “Buffet Artist”. He had written a “book” for his students, a mishmash of collections  of other peoples writings.poorly put together and printed by the university.

He was not professional, neither was his clarinet playing.

One does not have to attend a university in order to be a professional clarinetist. One must simply play more beautifully than the others at the audition. But the University can allow less than really talented clarinetists through the maze of courses, “sucking up” to various teachers having the committee sold on yor thesis even though it’s been done to death, and voila,you have the DMA, and then you can compete with the others who apply for the same position demanding mostly the terminal degree, but not really having the sense to discern between the truly gifted clarinetist and the many who are less than gifted, which any player will tell you, vastly outnumber the gifted musician.

Keep warm and well and practicing.

best regards,

sherman friedland


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