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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000234.txt from 2002/06

From: "David C Kumpf" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Re: Caruso Long Tones
Date: Fri, 7 Jun 2002 12:47:29 -0400

David Hattner wrote:
> I have no idea who your teacher is, but my personal opinion
> is that long
> tones (on the clarinet) are mostly a waste of time. They are
> tiring and
> boring and accomplish little. Let me explain why (again,
> since you're new).
<snipped explanation>

I think your points are excellent here, yet I still practice long tones.
So let me seize on the word "mostly" in your paragraph above to say what
I do, and why.

I practice long tones every few days, but only for a few minutes
(certainly not for 20 minutes a day). I use two approaches, but
primarily the first.

1. Start at low E, play several beats with gradual crescendo, press
register key to obtain the twelfth for several beats, descrescendo
(method shown by Anne Lenoir, my teacher)

2. Start at low E, play several beats, repeat while going up the scale

That said, I don't think the specific method is what matters all that
much. What is useful to me about long tones is that it allows me to
pursue some independent and regular inquiry and experimentation into
what's going on with my embouchure, tongue position, and breathing, with
a focus gained by independence from moving the fingers. For example:

- what happens if I move the mouthpiece slightly left or right?
- do I need to focus more on pulling in the left side of the mouth,
which is where I typically leak?
- what happens if I move the tongue forward? Back?
- what happens if I drop my jaw slightly? Move it up?
- is there some variation in my tone/intonation during the course of
the note? Why?
- should I roll my lips in or out a bit more (particularly the top)?

I've been pursuing the metaphor of "embouchure as an *active* gasket
around the mouthpiece" and have found that I've obtained some definite
benefits in thinking of things that way; doing the long tones is just a
way for me to focus on that metaphor. (When I say "definite benefits,"
some context is needed. When I quit playing (25 years ago), part of the
reason was that my mouth hurt all the time, despite playing double lip
to *avoid* biting. Now, I get fatigue after an hour, but my mouth isn't
in pain. I am still playing double lip. And I leak around the embouchure
far less than before.)

I agree that all of those things need to be integrated into playing the
intervals (Rose study #1 is not yet ideal for me, for example, but is
*much* better than six months ago). I also don't mean to imply that I am
changing everything about the way I form my embouchure every day based
on the exercise. But separating these functions out can be beneficial, I
think, in discovering more about the instrument. In fact, once the
intervals are added, the same questions apply; it's just that there is
more going on at once.

I suspect that over time, most of those things will become automatic -
and the need to inquire about them via doing long tones will diminish or

Dave Kumpf


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