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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000768.txt from 2000/07

From: Karel Vahala <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Dental Work - and Other Physical Limitations
Date: Sat, 22 Jul 2000 03:15:22 -0400

I agree entirely that if dental pain interferes with one's enjoyment of playing
the clarinet, the problem needs to be adressed. Where I disagree with you is
what needs to be tackled. If the dental pain is caused by a faulty embouchure
technique, which from the description is quite possible, reconstruction of
dentition would appear to be an illogical solution. It will leave the player
with a huge bill, possibly further dental problems, and still a faulty
technique. "If it ain't broke , don't fix it" is a sound comment, is it not? If
the teeth are at fault, certainly get them fixed. All the same, should we lose
sight of the basics while searching for an engineering solution?
I suspect that best value here would be obtained from a consultation with a good
professional instructor first.


who hates using sledgehammers to crack hazelnuts.

"Kevin Fay (LCA)" wrote:

> If you're in dental pain whilst playing - fix or quit? I vote fix.
> First off, teeth are important. Aside from the considerable joy involved
> from playing the clarinet (which alone could justify the expense) most folks
> need their choppers to eat. As for me, I like eating. Do it most every
> day. Not eating makes me crabby.
> Should one quit clarinet (or any similar joy-producing activity) because of
> physical limitations? I'll have to give a resounding "no" to that one, too.
> All of us our bounded by our physical limitations. I will never, ever hit a
> golf ball like Tiger Woods, or dunk a basketball like Shaquille O'Neal, or
> smack a spheroid like Mark McGwire. No one would expect me to - I'm a short
> bald guy. For much the same reasons, I'm not ever going to have Stanley
> Drucker's or Larry Combs' technique. Ain't gonna happen, no matter how much
> practice is involved - my fingers just don't work that well. If I had
> practiced 12 hours a day for all these many years, it still wouldn't have
> happened -- I just don't have the talent to get the Big Gig. A large part
> of the talent deficit is physiological; the tongue moves only so fast and no
> more, the fingers only so smooth. Should I quit?
> . . . well, I didn't. Good thing, too, 'cuz there are only about 2
> activities that I enjoy more than playing. While listening to Brahms or
> Mahler is great, it pales in comparison to the absolute gas of playing them
> in the flesh. (Face it--the clarinet chair is the best seat in the house.)
> This is aside from the other ancillary benefits of being a band rat all
> these years.
> Is my orchestra as good as Chicago? No way - I play with people who are as
> limited as I am. We revel in our mediocrity. Should we all quit?
> My advice to our dentally impaired listmate is to go for it (preferably with
> as much nitrous oxide as possible). The clarinet playing of each and every
> one of us is limited by our physical capabilities -- from [insert name of
> famous player] to me to the middle school special-education student using
> clarinet as a music therapy tool. Some of us are more limited than others,
> true -- so what?
> If you think that it's worth the hassle, it is. IMHO, anyway.
> kjf
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