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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000309.txt from 2000/04

From: (Tony Pay)
Subj: Re: [kl] re: Tone - the quick way
Date: Sat, 8 Apr 2000 07:31:31 -0400

On Thu, 06 Apr 2000 18:49:28 -0400, said:

> (Tony Pay) Date: Thu, 06 Apr 2000 22:31:55
> +0100 said:
> > Subject: Re: [kl] re: Recruiting students On Thu, 06 Apr 2000
> > 17:00:22 -0400, said:

> > > > From David Blumberg: It cracks me up when a student comes in for
> > > > a first lesson after studying with basically a babysitter, and 5
> > > > minutes later their sound goes from crap to quality.
> > >
> > > (I want that 5 minutes with David!!)
> >
> > So do I.
> >
> > Tony

> Voicing, air speed, lip placement, and Reed-MP are all things that can
> be quickly adjusted in a younger student to get a good sound. I do it
> all the time - not exagerating. I put a good combo Reed-MP, show the
> student how to position his lip, lip pressure, cheeks, etc. and
> support the sound, and boom - much better tone.
> Of course the quality may vary ;)

Yes. Perhaps you read me as being cynical about your ability to improve
your students' sound. I was simply responding wistfully to the idea of
a simple 5-minute solution applying to *me*;-)

Anyway, I do have something else I want to say about this.

We're talking about a one-off encounter, I take it, rather than
how you might deal with someone on a regular basis.

I notice that you include the idea of switching their mouthpiece, and
this does make the problem of improving the perceived sound considerably
easier. Otherwise you have to carry loads of different strength reeds
around, so that you can deal with all the different setups. And often,
I find the mouthpiece that someone's using is far from satisfactory,
which requires even more reed adjustment. Nevertheless, that's usually
what I do.

Changing the student's address to the instrument has a beneficial effect
-- even a very marked beneficial effect -- and I'm sure you identify the
way to do that as well as anyone.

The problem, though, is that the student often doesn't perceive this
beneficial effect *as beneficial*. Even when the class agrees that it's
beneficial, the student himself or herself just finds the new position,
or the different reed or different mouthpiece, what they call,
'uncomfortable'. And then they regress after the lesson, often, even
if they were better during the lesson.

I know this because there are some students I see regularly but
infrequently in classes, and I always find myself saying the same thing
to them at intervals of a couple of months or so.

I used to think that masterclasses would be an ideal learning situation
for less able students, because they could learn from the more able
students. But in fact, my experience is that they don't, because they
don't appreciate in sufficient detail *how* the better students are

Our job is to get them to appreciate the differences between their
playing and the better students' playing, as well as giving technical
instructions as to how to minimise those differences. Then the
technical instructions may 'take', because they have feedback when they
slip from following them.

(Of course, there's still the problem that you and I modify our
'address' according to the situation -- reed, temperature, orchestral
context and so on. So actually, we need lots of collections of
technical instruction.)

A good, if paradoxical way of saying it, with regard to sound, is that
we're teaching them *how to choose reeds*. Because though I can make a
half-way acceptable sound on most reeds, I can't do *what I want* on
most reeds, however I modify my address. The difference between a good
reed and a bad reed is highly dependent on my aspirations for it. So
they have difficulty choosing reeds -- or rather, they don't choose good
reeds -- because they lack the aspirations.

In these circumstances, they choose what 'feels' OK rather than what
sounds OK.

Hence the remark that we play the clarinet with our ears. And with our
mental models.

I'm not suggesting you don't know all this, by the way.

_________ Tony Pay
|ony:-) 79 Southmoor Rd
| |ay Oxford OX2 6RE
tel/fax 01865 553339

... Message ends...Engage coffee making mode.

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