The Libertas. It means Liberty for us all

May 31, 2014

The Statue of Liberty takes its name, as well as thousand of references to coins. It is imbued in our history through out the entire World.

But now, it takes on new meaning to all those of us who have chosen to play the clarinet.

For some bizarre reason the Opus and Concerto clarinets have been removed from the catalog of the company which produced them initially, designed by the then head of instrumentsl production of the company., William Ridenour

These two similar models have become the favorites of clarinetists everywhere. Larry Combs said,” Before the Opus I felt I had been playing on an unfinished clarinet”. And all who play know that Eddie Daniels chose the Concerto.Both of these were desiigned by William Ridenour, along with many other instruments from this same company.

They were well priced into the several thousands of dollars, but exemplary clarinets in terms of intonation and of manufacture

And now, these same instruments are offered in ebonite, or hard rubber, a more stable material then wood, easier to machine and less prone to changing dimensions, to say nothing of pitch.

I received my Libertas, and consider it my ultimate Liberty.

I recently wrote an article about the sound of a clarinet, Sitting in the case , handsome and beguilingly attractive, it says nothing. Not a single sound comes to the ear without the artist taking it into his or her hands and mouth.

I have played on silver plated early Selmer clarinets, (#406) from the first few years of the 20th century, and virtually every other material known to man or woman, even a see-through plastic clarinet.

But until the arrival of my Libertas, truly my Liberty, I had been somewhat in darkness.Playing literally hundreds of remote CBC concerts, I was subject, as was my clarinet to the variances of temperatures in cold Montreal Churches, literally hoping that the ambient temperature would within the realm of my ability to perform well. The so-called remote broadcasts are recorded as is, no retakes, regardless of what happened regarding temperature. Using an instrument made from a much more stable machinable material,and the same bore and finish as a much more expensive product, carefully finished, with well made strong keys, at a fraction of the 5 grand list prices, and you are free to use your full abilities to your best advantage.

Repeating my earlier statement: if you play any clarinet designed by William Ridenour you are ahead of the game. With a Libertas, you are playing the best clarinet of all his designs..

I am grateful and proud of the Libertas. It will free every clarinetist. I tested my clarinet , coming with two barrels excellently finished, and will buy an A as soon as it appears.

A salute to Wm Ridenour, and his Libertas,

best wishes, sherman


The realities of dying in Quebec, Nathan Friedland

May 30, 2014

The Realities of Dying in Quebec

Ten years ago as a nursing student, my desire to work with elderly patients was deferred after a heart-breaking stage on a geriatric floor in a major Montreal hospital. My general impression back then was that as Louise McDevitt stated in her letter of the day last week “older people are being patronized, institutionalized and marginalized.” I knew after the stage was over that there was no way I could have a long career in geriatrics because I would have been in a constant battle with the system for better care for my patients, and there would have been no way I’d have had the strength to carry on such a battle for years and years.
Now, after ten years as a nurse, and with Bill 52 very close to becoming a reality, I feel privileged to have had experiences with dying patients, most of whom were children, as those experiences have taught me a great deal about the value of life. It was after one recent death of a teenaged boy just this past winter that I came to discover that in ten years, not much has changed. Society still appears to value the young over the aged especially when it comes to dealing with death, hence the need for a bill to legalize euthanasia.
The primary architect of Bill 52 Veronique Hivon and current Health Minister Gaetan Barrette have both said that it would only be open to persons 18 and over, the question then is: why? I have the answer: palliative care is far more available to patients under 18 years of age than it is for adults, particularly the elderly, because society would not stand for the kind of treatment the elderly go through when they are dying if that treatment was given to a dying child.
I was exposed to this harsh reality a few months ago when I took on a second job after my teenaged patient – who had palliative care – died. He died pain free, and even with me being able to provide him and his family with the one on one care that they needed for the entire day until he passed away, I still felt very empty afterwards. Later that night, I went to an adult off-island hospital for my second job, and one of my 12 patients was dying and was expected to pass-away within 24-48 hours. When I went to check on him early in the shift, I was horrified. The 88 year old was alone, with no palliative care available and with only regular morphine prescribed to him to be given every four hours. Despite my desires to stay with and comfort him in some way, and ensure he was medicated properly through-out the night until he died, I was told this was impossible due to a lack of nurses and resources. My other 11 patients also needed quite a bit of care needing iv’s, naso-gastric tubes, and extra fluids to keep their blood-pressures up, so I didn’t have time to devote to my dying patient. The other few nurses on the unit offered no support and seemed to take this all in stride as if it happened every night. I over-heard one of them say during shift change, “Il va mourir bientot”, as if it meant nothing. After the shift, as I drove home mortified, I couldn’t help but think, “perhaps this is why some people are in favor of Bill 52. I don’t want to die like that.” Feeling awful, with a terrible bout of insomnia after the seemingly sub-standard care that if felt like I was forced to give, 48 hours later I went to another adult hospital searching for hope. To my horror, nearly the same circumstances arose. 13 patients on the night-shift including a dying patient with no palliative care, not enough nurses, not enough time, I became a nothing but a morphine pusher and it felt like I was no longer even a nurse.
Children are not treated this way when they are dying so why are the elderly? In my experience, palliative care works but the reality is that because our society does not seem to hold our elderly in high regard, only roughly 1 in three have access to palliative care. Who then would not want to die quickly by being euthanized when faced with a death of suffering at the hands of care-givers who are turned into heartless drug pushers on a night shift? Our elderly are not stupid and I believe they know what is going on out there. Instead of backing a bill that seems to be a facile solution to a lack of resources and an ignorance of reality, perhaps Hivon and Barrette should go to hospitals across the province tonight and see how many dying patients are not getting the care they deserve.

Nathan Friedland

Waiting times in quebec hospitals

May 30, 2014

RE: “Surgical wait times remain a problem” Gazette April 11 2014.
When it comes to health-care, perhaps the biggest problem we are facing is the fact that many of us are still waiting at least six months for surgeries that we need performed right away. It would seem that our government’s current way of dealing with this problem has been a glorious failure. With a new Liberal government ready to tackle this challenge, here are some suggestions from someone who works on the front-lines of health-care and has seen the effects of cancelled surgeries; a nurse.
What physicians fail to realize time and time again is that hospital beds are extremely precious and that every available resource should be made in order to free them up. While premier Couillard’s idea to create 50 super clinics is a good one that should send less patients to hospital emergency rooms for care, it will not decrease wait times for surgeries because it will not free up beds. The best way to free up a bed is to discharge patients that simply do not need to be in a hospital. How do we do that? Take all the money and resources we were going to put towards the 50 super clinics and put it towards home-care instead. There are literally hundreds of patients across the island who could be getting treated at home instead of a hospital if only we had the resources and the nurses to give them. For instance, I once successfully treated a patient who needed two intravenous antibiotics every 12 hours, vital signs and blood-tests and dressing changes everyday, entirely from the comfort of his den. This is more care than most “stable” patients in a hospital require so why are these “stable” patients still in hospital? Because of poor management of beds. It must be reinforced to physicians that they must plan their discharges early and efficiently during the course of their patients’ admissions. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve seen patients languishing in hospital beds because of poor planning from their physicians and poor communication from the entire team treating that particular patient.
I truly believe that if could simply change our way of thinking by maximizing spending on home-care and being more efficient in how we manage beds, we could drastically cut wait times for surgeries as the primary reason why these times are so long is that there are no beds available when we need them most.

Nathan Friedland RN

A letter from my son,Nathan. Montreal Gazette

May 30, 2014

As my father’s health slowly worsens after he somehow survived septic shock and a subsequent heart attack, I look at him now not with sadness or pity. When I speak to him now, and take advantage of whatever little time we have left together, I speak to him with joy as we talk with excitement about the one thing that has always united us, even in the worst of times. Next week’s return of baseball to Montreal will mark one week that I shouldn’t even have had with him and its timing couldn’t be better.
My twin brother and I were first introduced to baseball at age 10 (33 years ago) when my father took us to an Expos game and bought each of us brand new gloves the next day. We were always the smallest in stature compared to other kids our age but for some reason, we could catch and throw better than most. We soon realized that for us, because of our Dad and his love of the Expos, there was nothing better than baseball. We tried out for the local team “Loyola Pee Wee” and made the “A” team, he was so proud of us. When we’d practice together we’d mimic our heroes, I was Gary Carter and he was Charlie Lea. Our coach soon made us a battery – he’d pitch and I’d catch- and I’ll never forget when he struck out 10 batters one game and I threw out three baserunners trying to steal second. We were 11 years old and because of our Dad and the Expos, we learned about fair play, leadership, and the power of team sports.
For the next 7 years, we continued to live, eat, and breathe baseball as we watched Russell Martin and his father practice at Loyola Park, not knowing that one day, he’d be a big star. Baseball was our salvation growing up, the one thing we could always count on. We’d play all day, everyday and when we did, it was as if time stopped and that nothing could hurt us.
Since the departure of the Expos in 2004, an entire generation of children have missed out on what I now treasure; memories of heroes, freshly cut grass, and the feeling that anything is possible.
On March 29 2014, I’ll be at the Olympic Stadium with 40,000 others, thinking about my brother and my Dad, and the great times we had because of the Expos. If I’m lucky enough, I’ll get to speak to my Dad after the game and talk about this and that, and for a brief moment, we’ll all be young again.

Nathan Friedland

MY actual history of “lessons in sound”

May 27, 2014

My first clarinet was a one piece metal made by Pedlar It looked spookily complicated He fastened the mouthpiece, and played my first example of the most lovely thing I had ever experienced: HIS SOUND, which ,after constant work became mine.

I carried that sound in my head, still carrying it, and I would imagine that most clarinetists do, as well. I, as well as most of you,listen and choose  the sound of certain well known players, and that these work their way into your head. Very early, we are virtually inundated with the makes and models of clarinets, and yes, these manufacturers  have to pick what is most important to the clarinetist, the sound.

They say anything they need to say in order to have you consider obtaining their instrument.

Sounds sell, and then we are directly into the business of selling , which means money, income, competition, various markets, whether they be educational institutions, or other paths that sell.

Many year past , Mr. Benny Goodman was  soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony.

As Principal , I was to rehearse the orchestra in the two pieces he was to play, The Rhapsody by Debussy , and the Concertino, by Weber.

The concert was in the Milwaukee Civic Auditorium, a huge hall ,seating 3200.

When he finally walked on stage, He played a very simple tune in the middle register of the clarinet. He said, “playin’ here is like spittn in the ocean”

He repeated the pretty warmup. And he performed with that same sound throughout the concert, never ever pushing his sound in order to match the orchestra’s fortes. His sound at that concert was never anything ,but beautiful, constrained and controlled.

Now that was a wonderful lesson in performance.and there are many more,always to do with the actual qualitative parts of that lovely sound, able to really sing at any time,in any work.

Loud is simply not a component, and it generally is a forced, stiff line. Gino Cioffi always believed in a free unforced quality.When  he first went to Boston, that incredibly beautiful Hall freed his sound to literally soar above the orchestra even in pianissimo. Harold Wright carried that torch even further by exactly the written dynamics.  it was  not Ginos crystal mouthpiece, nor was it Wrights clarinet or mouthpiece. Wright sounded the same in Constitution Hall in DC. The so-called

big sound was , merely a sales gimmick, and then finally an attempt to make the

recorded performance sound as it would be in he hall.

That is what mixers and mikes are for.

thank you for all of the nice words,  and play freely, and sing.





thank you, shermane