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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000165.txt from 2002/05

From: "David S. Naden" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Mouthpiece help...
Date: Mon, 6 May 2002 19:54:18 -0400

Mr. Jackson--


Reed strength is not related to the strength of your emborchure muscles.
Reed strength is related to the tip opening of the mouthpiece: the more
OPEN the tip opening, the SOFTER the reed, the more CLOSED the tip opening,
the HARDER the reed.

David S. Naden

-----Original Message-----
From: James Jackson []
Subject: RE: [kl] Mouthpiece help...

I've ordered a selection of reeds between 2 1/2 and 3 to see which ones
I prefer. If I don't get a sound I'm happy with, I'll think about
changing the mouthpiece. I've also ordered a Rovner Ligature to see if
that makes a difference too..

As I play other woodwind (Recorder, Highland Bagpipes etc..) I already
have fairly strong mouth muscles, so I think I should be able to cope
moving up to stronger reeds fairly quickly.

Thanks for all your help so far!


James Edward Jackson

Managing Director, Ergonomic Systems and Technology Ltd.

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-----Original Message-----
From: William Wright []
Subject: Re: [kl] Mouthpiece help...

<><> JamesĀ Jackson wrote:
Can anybody tell me more about this mouthpiece, is it worth keeping?

Welcome, James. Mouthpiece choice is an individual matter !!!

It's __really true__ that the best mouthpiece for you may be the
worst mouthpiece for me, or perhaps it may be the best or worst for both
of us, or perhaps....

Somewhere along the way, you _must_ try different brands and different
models of the same brand. Eventually you can decide "This is the one
for me."

A standard practice is to order three identical mouthpieces "on trial."
You will find that the three of them do not have the identical sound
even though they all have the same catalog description. Sometimes the
differences are minor, but frequently the differences are major. Part
of the deal (with your supplier) is that you can keep one of them and
return the other two (or even all three, in the worst case) for a refund
less a $5 or $10 service charge per mouthpiece.

Until you have gained clarinet experience, it helps tremendously if you
have a teacher or experienced player who will listen to _you_ as you
play them, and who will offer advice and explanation based on how _you_
sound when you play each of them. Since you have experience playing
other instruments professionally, you already understand that each
musician is entitled to his own goals and preferences, and therefore
your teacher or friend is not the final arbiter. But it does help to
receive opinions or explanations from someone who is experienced.

<><> I'm playing with with Rico Royal 2's and 2 1/2's at the moment. I
can hit most Clarion notes with these reeds, do I need something
stronger to go higher?

The advice about "It's different for each person" and "Try different
reeds yourself" and "Ask for advice from someone with experience
(because we on this list can't hear your playing)" apply here as well.

It's generally true that as you gain more breath support and embouchure
strength, you will want to move towards stiffer reeds. But some of us
stop at 3 or 3-1/2 or 4, and others of us go up to 5. My teacher and
professional freelancer, for example, plays a 4. While I'm not a
professional or expert, I feel comfortable at 3-1/2. As you may have
read during the recent conversation about Turkish clarinets, you may
decide some day to go _back down_ to 2 or 2-1/2 in order to manipulate
your sound in extreme ways.

In general, moving to a stiff reed too quickly leads to one of the major
errors: "biting" on the reed too hard. This is one area where a
teacher or experienced player can be especially helpful guide you.

Reed and mouthpiece interact. It's common to own more than one
mouthpiece, and to play a different reed on each mouthpiece, depending
on the character of the music that you are playing at the moment.

I didn't discuss any particular mouthpiece or reed (such as the names
that you mentioned) in order to emphasize that it is different for each
person. Not just a little bit different, but "major-ly" different.


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