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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000698.txt from 1998/03

From: "L. BORCHERT" <lborcher@-----.Edu>
Subj: Re: NeckStraps
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1998 18:45:29 -0500

You are missing the purpose(s) of the neck straps.

In some cases, the neckstraps are used to reduce the tension
placed on the RH thumb as it supports the weight of the instrument. To
lessen the pressure on the joint is of critical importance, as that is the
area where tendonitis or overuse strains occur. (N.B. Usually this does
not occur without added tension in the wrist/fingers/hand). If properly
adjusted, the elastic strap will ease up the pressure on the joint itself,
hopefully to allow the strain to heal more efficiently. That upward lift
of your RH thumb support is important in the overall production of a
"characteristic" clarinet sound. Leon Russianoff used to call it "chonk."

In younger players, the elastic strap can help them realize the
importance of the lift needed from the RH thumb to keep the mouthpiece
firmly anchored behind the top teeth. If they are made aware of the the
difference and improvement in sound, then the logic of using more RH lift
will be encouraged. BTW, this is similar in concept to the use of the
commercial support stands know as "Weight Lifters."

All that being said, I do not start beginners with a strap or a
stand, but I do use the elastic strap to demonstrate the lift and to
encourage them to work for that "characteristic" clarinet sound. I would,
however, encourage the use of the strap if I thought it would help them.
Good teachers search for what works and there is a difference
between "group truth" and "individual truth." [If you or one of your
children are in the "one in a million" group, (I don't recall the exact
percentage), that contracts measles from the vaccine, it doesn't matter
what the percentages happen to be for everyone else, only you or your
child is important]. Consequently, Ii a teaching technique works for
one it might not work for everyone. I would not rule out using a
neckstrap based on a pre-conceived opinion.

Personally,, I do use a neckstrap when I perform a long recital
or concerto where I have to be standing up and have the full weight of
the instrument on my thumb for long periods of time. It sure helps
relieve the strain on my thumb joint.

This was a good question to ask and I look forward to hearing from
others on the list as well.


Dr. Laroy Borchert
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM 88003

On Wed, 11 Mar 1998, Jennifer Rose McKenna wrote:

> Since we were on the subject of weight of wooden clarinets I
> thought now may be a good time to get my question answered. Here at North
> Texas, I am one of the few (actually 3 out of 20) who don't use a
> neckstrap when playing. Dr. Gillespie plays with a neck strap and so he
> has persuaded all of his students to play with one. I will not resist to
> me a sucker for tradition, but I don't see an incredible
> need to use them unless your the type to get nervous when performing a
> solo (standing). All of the students also use them when seated in
> emsembles. I would like to know how many of you use neck straps, and why?
> I understand that the clarinet maybe heavy to hold and that is the reason
> some people use neckstraps, but I've played Alto and Bari sax, and Bass
> Clarinet, and those are the only instruments that I have found need a neck
> strap(bass clarinet only when marching). I'm intreseted in your feed
> back. Do you think that starting clarinet with a neck strap is advised, I
> think that the student should build up the muscles in the forearm first.
> thankyou in advance,
> jennifer mckenna
> university of north texas
> music ed major/clarinet concentration

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