Things to Try, and things Tried

Had an evocative note from a young clarinetist who had recently graduated with an advanced degree, and was very happy with his new acquisitions, some addition to his clarinet which he felt enhanced his sound in some way and made him feel encouraged about his sound. I had recently written an article which was concerned with the sound of a new acquisition. In my article, I had mentioned the Hans Christian Anderson story called “The Emporers new clothes”, a story which has been widely translated and is simply the story of tailor who brags that he can make clothing that will show imposters for what they are, and would be very beautiful.The emporer wears his new clothes and a young child says. “But he has no clothing on, and is naked”.
The young man with the new degree took my article to be a criticism of this new equipment. He suggested that I had criticized the equipment because I had never tried it myself. This is something I would never do, and in a long life as a successful Clarinetist Professor and Conductor, I have tried literally everything that I ever saw , including reeds, ligatures,ligatures with dinner plates, bells and barrels of every description, thousands of mouthpieces, and virtually every clarinet ever manufactured from every known material.Incidentally, the Ridenour barrel is a big help with the throat, at least it was with my Selmer 10s, (and it is readily available) I was a student of Rosario Mazzeo. He gave me a set of full boehm Mazzzeo System Clarinets which I played for longer than any other professional player, and also used exclusively while Principal in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. I accompanied Mazzeo to Great Britain and demonstrated the Mazzeo System Clarinets for the CASS, the Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain. And, I have tried every supposedly new addition having to do with the clarinet.I have been playing hard rubber instruments designed by Tom Ridenour for many years. And I have tried and tested his new Lyrique made from Grenadilla. The difference between wood and hard rubber are readily apparent. Grenadilla wood is more substantial from the standpoint of carrying power, but hard rubber is better in tune, stays in tune and stays stable.It is also the most easily accessible from the standpoint of cost and tunes better than any clarinet. It is easier to machine and it is more stable.
I am not unlike many of you readers who literally has spent several fortunes on equipment, always searching for something better, different, anything at all to change the quality of sound emitted from my clarinet. In the last few years, I have come to understand that the instrument is still lovely and beautiful , though, regardless of what new equipment I try, whether it be reeds, mouthpieces, accesories of all kinds, additions, and clarinets made entirely of different materials, or combinations thereof, and I have found that I still search for the beauty of the music, the beauty of the sound, the quality of the phrase, its length and beauty to be the one goal for which I will always search. I wish the young man with his new addition, and all those who try new or sifferent materials, that it is always finally the music itself, which is the ultimate goal of any clarinetist. I further advise all to audition whenever there may be a job out there and to get that job and be happy and fulfilled.

stay well,



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