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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000330.txt from 1996/01

From: Thomas Labadorf <Labadorf@-----.COM>
Subj: Re: reeds
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 15:35:26 -0500

A question was raised on this list about what to do with a student who
complains of squeeks in the high register. This is what I do in these cases.

You want to be sure the equipment is working first.

Check the horn for leaks: There may be an outside chance that a small leak
may develop in one of the side keys to effect upper notes but not the lower.
This sounds unlikely, but you don't want to miss anything in the prosess.

Check the mouthpiece: The lay of the mouthpiece may be warped or the rails
might be chipped or otherwise changed to effect a leak. Sometimes the design
of the mouthpiece is just not right for the player.

Check the reed: Make sure the back is flat, is properly balanced, etc. If
this same symptom happens with other reeds, then the fault is probably not
with the reed, but keep in mind that a reed can warp on the mouthpiece during
a period of minutes - especially in dry weather. Northern winters are
notorious for dryness.

If all this checks out and squeeking is still a problem, *then* you can start
with the student.

I always tell my students that clarinetists never squeek, they just play
un-intended high notes. In other words, a squeek is nothing more than an
upper partial on a basic fingering. (You play an 'e' in the clarinet
register by fingering an 'a' in the chalumeau and exciting the third partial
with the register key. The fifth partial is excited by using the tone hole
under the first finger of the left hand as a register key, etc.)

A "squeek" can be caused by an "unintended" register key (i.e., a leak in the
horn under a key or a finger), by excessive tention on the reed from the
embouchure (or, even worse, pressure from the lower jaw), a position of the
tongue that restricts the flow of air through the oral cavity (throat), or a
combination of these.

Sometimes the propensity for a "squeek" can be overriden with extra support,
looser embouchure and wide open throat.

Try this out. If it doesn't work, recommend piano lessons.

Tom L.
Clarinetist, U.S. Coast Guard Band

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