Selmer 10S and Buffet R-13: an explication

January 29, 2011

Dear Mr. Friedland,

I own a Selmer 10 S. I have played it profes. For 30 yrs. I use a selmer HS** It has a nice easy open sound. A couple of yrs ago I bought a Buffet R13. I think I know your feelings about the R13, but I wondered why it (R13) didn’t blow as easy as the Selmer? On the selmer the sound is effortless, but with the Buffet I have to think about what I am doing. Any thoughts? Thank You. D S

Dear D.S.

Thank you for your question concerning your Selmer 10S and the Buffet R13 you purchased.

I would first like to qualify ” feeling about Buffet”. They can be beautiful, lovely and a pleasure to play. The problem is that nobody I know or have known owns and play buffet without rather extensive choices being made, from the initial purchase to the tuning and voicing work on the instrument after purchase. For years, it was the instrument of choice of many players, choice being the operative word here. They are and were terribly inconsistent from one to another, if you will recall Anthony Gigliottis statement that ” I tried 55 Buffet Clarinets each year, and out of those chose two. These I gave to Hans Moenig for tuning and adjustment. One I would play in the orchestra, the other I would give to a student”. He was the Principal Clarinet of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The above is part of my impression of the Buffet clarinet, regardless of model. There are so many purported R-13s around that the other day I had a fellow ask if his Evette-Schaefer was an R-13.

The selmer 10-s happens to be my clarinet of choice and has been for the last several years. I bought it from a fellow in Europe who had gone there to play and found more receptivity to the Buffet clarinet. Whatever the reason, when it finally arrived I was very surprised at its quality.It had been tweaked by someone and the upper joint had all cork pads which were slightly beveled, supposedly for better projection and white leather pads in the lower joint. It came with a very sturdy case, with two barrels, was silver plated, and in general I was and am quite happy with this Selmer 10S.
I have purchased on consignment several other clarinets, and found them all good, but not quite as even and in tune as this 10S

I also play and espouse clarinets made from hard rubber, as the material is much more stable, easier to machine, does not crack and is much less expensive than any french grenadilla clarinet.

Your experience has all or nothing to do with the two different clarinets of which you speak. If one is familiar with a certain mouthpiece on a certain clarinet,trying another instrument of a different construction may or may not feel either stuffy or free and open. It has a lot to do with the reed you are using as well as the mouthpiece, as well as the clarinet and its condition. You play one instrument, become familiar with it, and trying another will feel different,no question. How you judge the difference has everything to do with you, your embouchure, mouthpiece and reed, on a particular day.

I hope this helps .
stay well, sherman


Considering a new mouthpiece

January 28, 2011

Dear Mr. Friedland,

I am currently looking for a new mouthpiece and was seeking some advice. I currently have the vandoren 5RV lyre and have been using it for quite some time, but it has been damaged and I am on the search for a new one. I wasn’t sure if I continue using this same model, or try a new one. I play with V12 4.5 reeds and want to make sure I have a mouthpiece that doesn’t produce a bright sound. I have been happy with the 5RV so far, but as I need a new mouthpiece, wasn’t sure if I should try something new.

Thanks for the help,


Dear A:
Thank you for your question concerning a possibly new mouthpiece and your preference for a sound which is not bright.

I have played both the 5RV and many Van Doren facings. I think that first, one must understand that every individual 5RV mouthpiece will play a bit differently, perhaps even more than a bit. Accordingly, any mouthpiece that you try, regardless of make or facing will be different from all others. This has been my experience.

I offer my own crystal mouthpiece experience, wherein, it was broken during a chamber music concert many years ago. I was able to finish the concert with a spare crystal of the same facing, successfully. After that, I spent the next ten or fifteen years trying to find another with the same quality.I never did , but played a Vandoren M13, their version of the Chedeville mouthpiece, which I liked very much. But then , played two mouthpieces which were at the time of my playing them, superior. A Gennusa, and finally several of the best I have ever played, made by Richard Hawkins of Oberlin. He made the mouthpiece upon which Larry Combs played in Chicago and many others. He has a website and is an extremely careful craftsman. I suggest you write directly.

I hope these suggestions help .
Good luck and keep practicing.

Tom Kenny, First horn, Cleveland, Szell

January 23, 2011


Dear Mr. Friedland

Can you please tell me more about Tom Kenny? Did he play with Baltimore in the 50s? Did he have to stop playing due to losing his teeth? Thanks,


Hello Matt:

Tom Kenny , now retired and living in  Delray Beach,Florida is one of the best horn players of the 20th century.
Probably the most notable position of his career was as Principal Horn with the Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell, conductor.
He also played in the Detroit Symphony as first horn under Paul Paray. Prior to these positions he played for Bruno Walter, Frits Reiner, Arturo Toscanini, and many others including making many recordings with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. He did play first in Baltimore, but I am not sure of the exact years. He used to talk about the woodwind quintet from the orchestra which used to tour in a hearse, a funeral carriage, if you will.The clarinetist in the quintet was the principal  of the Baltimore Symphony, Ignatius Gennusa(” Iggy”).

Sometime after Baltimore, he was invited to bring the entire horn section of the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, then moved to Montreal, where he played with the Montreal Symphony, under Zubin Mehta.

One of the funniest men I have ever met, he was made even more famous by calling that conductor a ” goodamned camel driver”, for which he was made to apologize in front of the entire orchestra. He also taught at McGill University, and left there, taking all his students to Concordia University and was a research fellow there in the resource center of the Music Department until he retired a few years before I did.

I was privileged and honored to be his boss, to laugh with him hysterically about the musical  winners and losers , and to consume a great many carrot muffins, and also to buy and sell several cars from and to him. We both loved cars, still do, and I can remember one of the funniest things about his car registrations. He could never afford to register and license them all , especially in Montreal, so once, I saw his entire fleet of 19 cars parked closely ,one behind the other , with only one license plate on the last car in the row. One plate only!!

He and his wife Andree entertained me and my wife Linda, many times , eating chinese or chicken in Montreal or going to his camp up in Lac St,Jean. The last time we had dinner with them was in Florida when Andree, an excellent gourmet chef, duplicated for us the last meal served on the Titanic.( One could say say here, that we all drowned in Miami after that meal, but that wouldn’t be nice. But it would be in the character of our wonderful relationship)

These memories of Tom could go on all night and are very amusing. He knew how to laugh, but he was also one of the greatest horn players who ever played…….sharp. (that’s our joke)

keep practicing, sherman

Acquiring Clarinet Students

January 9, 2011

HI Professor Friedland

I’m a clarinet Performer and former clinician for Buffet Crampon. I gain status as a clinician 15 years ago when I attempted to finish my bachelors degree in Music Education in a Major Texas institution. At this very same day, I still practice my clarinet. But always diligent in finding students to teach for extra income. Now days, I find it hard to find students to teach. I try , approaching school magnet and after school programs, making flyers for summer recreational park programs and Ect… Still no luck. I still have faith in my concept of teaching and I perform when ever I can. What is a good approach to finding good students these days?


( this a siggestion for everyone: Get a spell checker, and check every document upon which you sign your name.)

Dear CM

Thank you fo your question about acquiring clarinet students.
In the first instance you should be forewarned that clarinet students are not terribly plentiful these days, and my sense is that it is a diminishing business, because of a diminishing group. Symphony Orchestras are failing nation wide, and/or are being replaced by electronic music, or sampling or digitalization, (see my recent article). The type of musicians who play on and in Broadway shows are among the finest instrumentalists to be found, and they play by necessity,many different woodwinds, all well, even very well The musicians in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra are among the finest in the world.

Audtitions for any position in any orchestra which becomes available, number in he hundreds despite it being a short season with rather poor salaries as well. I would suggest you inquire into all Service bands and orchestras, many of which are sponsored by the US Government and require enlistment in the service. But, if you can audition your way into such a position, you will be secure for your lifetime. You must however, be able to play literally anything, with ease. One of my dearest friends, Phil Viscuglia, who passed away last April, ended his career playing Bass Clarinet in the Boston Symphony. He began by playing in the famous Marine Band in Washington DC, also played wonderful saxophone, and even recorded the Debussy Saxophone Rhapsody with the Boston Symphony, conducted by Erich Leinsdorf. That is about the kind of level to aim for in your quest for students.

Of course, by connecting yourself to a secondary music department,you would automatically be referred to students, and your reputation could start from there. But you mentioned that you didn’t complete your Music Education Degree, which scores for absolutely nothing on the jobs lists or the list students go to for teachers. Your concept of teaching has about nothing to do with the acquisition of students, until you have acquired them and showed that your concept of teaching is a successful one with real results.

I wish you all good luck, but it is a difficult problem to consider in this day and age.

Library work may be less stressful and jobs a bit more plentiful. There is little cash laying around and even less for clarinet teaching.

best wishes,
sherman friedland

“My Selmer CT Clarinet”

January 6, 2011

Dear Sir,

I read your response regarding the CT Selmer Clarinet with interest. My late father bought mine around 1961. The serial number is R5973 and the bell is marked sole agents New Your and Elkhart is below.

My horn is in excellent shape as I have kept it oiled and in its case all these years. It has the original HS* mouthpiece. I recall it was playing a bit “stuffy” the last time I had it out many, many years ago. I typically used a #2.5 or 3 reed. Always fussed trying to find the “perfect” reed.

I was a typical kid who loved music. Started my clarinet lessons in 5th grade. Made All State band as a 9th grader (15) and went on to win first chair in my senior year. My proudest achievement.

I went on to college and played in the band for two years and put the horn away. Upon graduation, 30 years in the military followed and then 10 years in the corporate rat race.

I am now 65 and retired. I have thoughts of taking lessons again and getting into our small city band. Would be great to play the Sousa marches once again!

In parting, do you have any idea when my horn was made? Approximate worth? It is in fine shape in its original samsonite brown case with a aluminum metal band around it.

Best Regards, and happy new year.

W. C .
Colonel, US Army (Ret.)

Colonel Sir:

Your horn was almost new when purchased for you by your father, made in 1958-59. It has retained value better than any other Selmer Paris Clarinet, but cannot hazard a guess without playing it, as they are all a bit different.

Your career is somewhat similar to mine, started later, went further, played Principal Clarinet in the 4th Army band and the Milwaukee Symphony after, never put the silly thing away, taught , played, conducted the orchestra for 30 years.

Only major disappointment was an opening in the 7th Army Symphony, for which I was qualified. Made request to first seargent, who replied, “the only place you’ll go is Ft Hood, Texas!” He loved me, the son of a bitch!

All the best, sir

Sherman Friedland

Reed irritation on lips and jaw

January 2, 2011

Dear Mr Friedland:

Hi. My wooden Vandoren reeds give me quite a rash under my lower lip and down toward my chin. I switched to Legere plastic reeds which and the rash is not as severe, but I don’t like the reeds as much. Have you ever heard of something like this? My dermatologist was not very helpful.

Dear SS:
Of course I have heard of this many times in many different manisfetations. And of course, your dermatologist would not be very helpful unless he played the clarinet on scabrous lips. You expect these guys to know anything ? I think not.

Here are some suggestions: make sure those filthy van dorens (they’re not called VD for no reason) are clean and are dry prior to putting them in your mouth. Use anything including liquid soap,to the germ killing alcohol they ask you to sanitize your hands with. Let them dry, and then rewet them in your mouth. If they taste bitter like alcohol, you have not allowed them to dry. These reeds travel to many parts of the world.

When a youngster I spent many a new franc and hours trying Van Dorens at the factory on Rue Lepic. All they said, was” Marquez cette boit”, meaning mark the box with the VD name before you take this dudes money.

You have most probably a mild case of contact dermititis. If it spreads over your body, contact your doctor immediately, if you can find him.

Yes, legere or other plastic reeds are cleaner than VD or other cane. They are made in sound-proof rooms, sterilized by eunuchs. Their playing ability has not been determined. But, for this cleanliness, you pay through the nose, or you better had, as it’s better than through the hands.

Brush your teeth and rinse with the nonalcoholic rinse. In fact, it is not a bad idea to soak the reeds briefly in a small amount of this rinse, before or after you rinse your teeth.

Good luck with that diseased cane.

best regards, sherman friedland

A professional Clarinet, Part 2

January 2, 2011

Any universitys description of a professional clarinet in order to enter a department is the worst part of any music department. It is such a  travesty on an incoming clarinet student, one then turns to an honest drescription of what can be termed professional, when it comes to the clarinet.

I enter the criteria from the experience of study with the finest teachers,performing as principal in a major symphony orchestra, and a lifetime of performance, conducting and teaching in all types of institutions.

From observing a large number of music students who had entered a university for the purpose of receiving a Bachelor of Music Education, the “necessary” for a career as a music teacher in a secondary school, one of the first hard lessons one learns is the art of assembling and disassembling ones clarinet, no small feat of strength and resolve when playing in a concert or a marching band for up to 15 hours a week,or more.

There is no wooden instrument that can stand this amount of being blown for that length of time. The biggest problem is the frozen barrel, imossible to remove from the clarinet without superhuman strength, and finally a call to the technician who spends many hours prying these things apart. Some hard headed, and more harder of hearing band directors will instruct their students to always leave the barrel 1/4 of an inch out, or more.  Others advise it for all of the joints.

The wooden instrument is usually made from material which is aged improperly, if at all, freezes from the amount of moisture left in the barrel to swell and shrink as one walks their horn back to the dorm.

The simple answer to this vexing problem is the acquisition of a plastic instrument for band rehearsals. Some of the Yamahas are excellent for these purposes, but usually are possessed of a bright shrieky kind of reponse, not pleasant, and now , much too costly. When this company changed their number 20 to the number 250, the quality remained the same, the price trebled.

Another answer is PT Barnums clarinet response to “there’s one born every minute”,meaning sucker,(but in this case, blower), the famous saver of the forests, the Greenline, made from carbon fibres and a few shavings of grenadilla and costing the same as one of their highest-priced instruments. These things are more stable than wood, but if you brush up against a hard-bodied fellow clarinetist, they tend to shatter, to break, and while you can replace the joint , if the break occurs between two joints you are clearly in deep doo-doo, as the saying goes.

The only answer to this vexing question is the acquisition of the least expensive clarinet on the market, a clarinet made from ebonite, or hard rubber. This material has been around for many years, is the selected material for the clarinet mouthpiece, and, is one of the most stable materials on the market.

There are three or four of these ebonite clarinet being manufactured today, all in the orient, and they are excellent and easy to acquire. The material is not only stable, but much easier to machine accurately, and therefore much less expensive to manufacture.

It takes two things to make this ebonite clarinet: One, is an excellent ear, and two is the ability to put what your ear hears to the machining of the clarinet, with accuracy.

The best ear in this end of the clarinet manufacturing business is that of  Tom Ridenour, who has designed already the worlds best-in-tune clarinets, the Opus and the Concerto. He has designed a Bb, a C,and an A clarinet, all excellent and less expensive than other instrments. But, these clarinet designs are easily copied, and copied well by others in the orient.

I own several of Ridenours instruments, but one with an even better response is the Orpheo 450, packaged exactly in the same manner as the former, but at a third of its price. I purchased an excellenr Orpheo 450 for 133.00  including shipping.

Please consider these alternatives to the problems mentioned above. I have absolutley nothing to gain, save for  all that wasted money in a world where it is so hard to acquire, or borrow, as is frequently the case.

Have a happy , healthy and free-blowing new year.

Stay well, and keep practicing,

sherman friedland