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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000470.txt from 2001/07

From: "Hally Man" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Double Jointed fingers cont.
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 08:21:47 -0400

Why do people feel so inferior, and are so reticent about admitting to a
sub-#4 reed? 'The stronger the reed, the better the clarinetist' is one of
the biggest myths I've ever heard. I'll admit it. I play a #2 reed, and
I'm proud of it.

I can remember in my beginning days, when we lined up to collect our horns,
we were all told to "go out and buy a couple of Rico Royal #1.5s, and I'll
show you how to put it together on Monday". It can't have been more than a
week or two before my first bandmate stuck out his chest with pride and said
"I'm already up to a #2, and my teacher says I'll be onto a #2.5 in a
month." And off we all raced...

For some poeple this becomes a lifelong obsession. I'll never forget the
first horrified, then superior look on the face of a cross-town rival of
mine just a few weeks ago when I revealed the meagreness of my reed compared
to her *far more advanced* #4. But, others, myself included, come to their
senses sooner or later. Not to say that it's more sensible to have a
*weaker* reed, just that different reeds suit different mouthpieces /

My epiphany, as it were, came as I listened once to a recording of *I think*
the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and I was particularly struck by the,
well, largeness of the tone of it's Principal Clarinettist. A short time
later, I spoke to someone who had attended a master class with this man, and
he told me that this guy's sound was so huge, you wouldn't believe the way
it simply filled an enourmous amphitheatre, and yet, had the sweetest, most
supple piannissimo you'd ever want to hear. So, I did some research, and
was gobsmacked to discover he used a pathetic #1.5!!! But, this made me
reassess what was good for me, and what sort of setup I could use to get MY
desired sound.

I suppose the sort of thinking that leads to reeds of outrageous strength
becoming the norm is something that will stay a part of reed playing,
especially in the beginning stages, forever. The new third clarinettist in
my school band was positively disappointed to discover that the guy on 1st
chair, who's been playing for close to a decade, played a #2. I can only
hope that he hears something in my playing that he likes, and decides
against going for the 'strongest reed in the section' crown. But, I'm not
holding my breath...
/o ,~~~>
HALLY /o /
_____ / O/
(_____) /Oo/
/ / O/
O \__/O /

----Original Message Follows----
From: Dirk Kussin <>
Subject: Re: [kl] Double Jointed fingers cont.
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 10:41:15 +0200 (MET DST)

Dear Michelle,

do you really think that reed size 3 is too weak? (And what means TOO
weak? If you are satisfied with your sound, then it is ok.) I am a
leisure time player, starting for 3 and a half years, and I am using
V12 size 2,5 on my B40 or B45 lyre, or 2,5 - 3 on my 5RV; the clarinet
is a RC Prestige. Even some of the reeds of this strength are too hard
for me. I have to admit, that 1.) I do not know how open/closed your
mouthpiece is, and 2.) my embouchure (?) maybe a little weak since I
am playing only for 3,5 years, and also not too often. But I was often
confused to see people here on the list playing sizes 4,5 or 5. I
think I will never have the power to blow such a reed. My questions to
the list: It is possible that in the US the average reed size is much
higher than that in Europe? And what maybe the reason? Does the R-13
"need" a stronger reed? What is the secret of the ability to blow such
hard reeds?


Oh and I might add that when my teacher corrects my hand position, my
hands sometimes start to hurt. I have been trying some technical
exercises to strengthen my right hand. But, I am not sure it is helping.

Here is some more random information:
I am playing a Buffet R-13. I have a Mitchell Lurie mouthpiece. I have
used Vandoren v-12s size 3 in the past. Now I am trying Zonda size 3. It
seems that for reeds size 3 is too weak, but 3 1/2 is too much. For a
clarinet player of 7 years does this seem right that I have such a weak
strength of reed??
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