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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000038.txt from 1997/09

From: elspeth4@-----. Grant)
Subj: Re: A student's multiple questions
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 1997 19:11:08 -0400

On Mon, 1 Sep 97 11:06:48 CST Michael Connolly <michael@-----.COM>
> With this background in mind, I present the following lengthy
questions for
>your perusal:
>Question #1:
> I tried out for the Memphis youth symphony in June.
> I am not bad at sight-reading (after four years of sax and ten
of piano).
>The problem was that the sight-reading was for an A clarinet. I had
gotten a
>sheet in the audition packet that informed me that all music had to be
>the correct concert pitch, which meant the auditioner was expected to
> If everyone had been through the same ordeal and some had fared
>this would have been OK with me, because that would have actually
>being more skilled. I turned out to be the only applicant who actually
tried to transpose
>the music.
> The question: Is this just my bruised ego talking, or was this
not fair?

I don't think it was very fair, but consider this: the judges probably
didn't know the A clarinet was being passed around, and no one can stop
single musicians from trying to put themselves ahead of everyone else in
violation of good musicianship. Having had some pretty unfair audition
experiences myself, I don't know if there's anything helpful you can do
about it, either.
Regarding the current thread about owning A clarinets, I know that some
conductors get very particular about having the correct instruments, but
for many Youth Orchestra members, it's just not possible. In these cases,
I personally think the conductor should ask the student to make
appropriate arrangements for getting the instrument requested or
permanently transposing the part.
I didn't know that transposing on sight was a necessary skill, but it
appears from some postings that it is, and it seems reasonable now that I
think about it. Knowing your background, however, I wouldn't necessarily
expect you to be able to do it, and I am impressed that you tried. You've
got a head start now! :-)

>Question #2
> Since I am currently studying clarinet without a teacher, I am
looking for
>suggestions on a good regimen of practice, i.e. a method book,
exercises, etc.

I recommend a teacher. Studying without one is a great way to pick up bad
One interesting exercise recently suggested to me is mm=60 in 4/4, play
one note for one beat and slur into the note chromatically below it,
holding that note for three beats. Repeat this. Then, tongue and play the
second note for one beat and slur into the note chromatically below it
for three beats. Repeat...and so on. You can start on any note, go as far
down as you want, and play each set of two notes as many times as you
want. The focus is on tone quality at about a mf-f, and keeping the tone
quality the same as you change notes. (Great practice going over the

>Question #3
> I have seen it written on KLARINET that the choice of mouthpiece
makes a
>large difference in a student's learning curve. Of course, the
ever-popular B45
>comes to mind, but how much difference would it make from my current
>generic mouthpiece?

Oh goodness, another mouthpiece question. These generally spark up plenty
of different opinions. Here's mine for whatever it's worth: I think that
good mouthpieces can make a difference, especially in the altissimo
register, but if it sounds good, don't worry too much. There is no such
thing as a "perfect" mouthpiece. Better spend time playing than looking
for one. I don't think it affects the learning curve really, just the
sound the student produces. It should be noted that I play on an
"unmarked" mouthpiece (with generic ligature, as well), and sound just as
nice on it as many of the other clarinettists I know with their brand

Just my $.02

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