Clarinetist: Singapore

Dear Mr. Friedland,
Thank you very much for your amazing site of clarinet resources!
Having been a clarinetist for 7 years I am now looking to obtain an instrument of my own. I have just entered university, and as such playing the clarinet will now most likely be restricted to various performances every few months or so with the university wind ensemble.
The university does provide for the loaning of instruments, however, for every performance I would be using a different instrument (and occasionally a different model) which is a bit frustrating as it takes time to get used to the feel of every different clarinet. I also would like to be able to work on various solo pieces out of personal interest and challenge on the side.
I would hence like to ask for your advice on the following:
Which model of Clarinet would you recommend?
-Buffet-Crampon: In Secondary school and Junior College (Middle and High school respectively), I played on the Buffet RC, RC Prestige and Tosca Clarinets for 2 years each. I did like the feel of these and I’m leaning towards getting an RC Prestige. (Have tried a Festival once but did not like the very high resistance of the instrument.) However I have read your articles on the inconsistency of Buffet Clarinets and am a bit concerned. (Not sure if I have just been lucky in the instruments loaned to me?)
I would also like to ask if the differences between the bores of the Tosca/R13 family and the RC family of Clarinets are very significant? I enjoyed playing on the Tosca (as well as the RC Prestige), but the Tosca is rather pricey, and I have never had the chance to play on an R13 before. Have come across a Conservatoire model as well but am unfamiliar with the characteristics of this model.
Also, if I do get a Buffet Clarinet, would you recommend getting a wooden instrument or Greenline?
-LeBlanc: I had the opportunity to use the LeBlanc Bliss for a few months, however I absolutely did not like the feel of the instrument (no control over tone and even intonation occasionally, almost as if it was too free blowing).
-Selmer: Several friends have recommended the Selmer range of Clarinets, however, I am very unfamiliar with the different range of models available and their respective characteristics.Not sure if this is relevant, but I have been using a combination of Vandoren B45 mouthpiece and Rico Grand Concert Evolution (Size 3) reeds.
Would you recommend getting a second-hand instrument? I have found Buffet Clarinets (RC and RC Prestige) between 3 to 5 years old on sale, but I am wondering if this is advisable.

Thank you very much for your time and have a Merry Christmas!

Yours Sincerely,
fom Singapore

Dear Singapore:
Thank you for your recent letter concerned with purchasing a clarinet.

Since you have asked several questions, allow me to answer by asking you a question? If you have just entered university, what are you planning for a degree program? If it has anything to do with Music, I would suggest that you start with the Music Department. I am going to assume that you are planning on studying music. Without mentioning your career goal, you should determine if there is a teacher of clarinet in that department. That is the best place to begin your search for an instrument. If there is either a clarinetist on the faculty or there are any ensembles within the department, you will find the best person to ask will be the clarinet instructor, or the Band or Orchestra director. He or she will be best able to help you in your search for your first clarinet. the instructor should have the most knowledge about clarinets, and certainly will have an opinion. Here is my first bit of advice. Because clarinetists and/or ensemble directors are paid to teach and to give advice, they will most probably have an opinion, and that opinion is something they have spent many years of study and hard work to form. Carefully consider the advice given to you because it will center on a particular brand or model of the instrument. If you know anything about the horn they are suggesting and you can also afford the instrument, I recommend that you purchase that instrument. Trust me. That person will be your teacher of clarinet or your director or conductor. You are probably going to be there for at least three or four years. Ask them what they suggest. Ask them to select the instrument for you. Ask them to play the instrument that you select. And, if you’ve learned anything at all, buy that instrument,if you can. This will be your teacher, or your ensemble director. You are beginning to study in University. You need a new clarinet, your very first. The advice that you receive is quite important to you and will carry you through until you receive your degree. Since you do not stipulate anything about yourself except that “you have been a clarinetist for seven years”, one would need to know if you have either studied the clarinet for 7 years or if you studied prior to beginning university. I will assume that you have been studying for that long, which means that you are a clarinet student. This may be your very first private instructor. This will also be an important relationship for your time in university. Whatever level you are, tread lightly with your instructor and ask many questions, for you have a lot to learn.

Carefully consider any information you are given. Take their advice. It is one of the biggest reasons you have entered University. I would hope that you are in a fine university with a fine music program. I would not buy any instrument without the advice of your clarinet instructor. I would have to hear you play to determine where you are and then may make a suggestion. But, at this point I would be reluctant to give you any advice. That is why you are going to university.

Best of good luck with your studies .



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