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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000804.txt from 2002/06

Subj: Re: [kl] finger dexterity
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 11:31:01 -0400

In a message dated 6/24/02 4:07:16 AM,

<< I had lots of trouble with tonguing also. Have you tried double tonguing?
There's a couple of articles that discuss this subject in the archives and
this one helped me out: >>

Let's back up.

If you have trouble with tonguing, don't imagine that learning to double
tongue will help the basic problem.

Double tonguing is a wonderful thing (I don't do it myself), but it is a
subcategory of ARTICULATION, which is an area of technique which practically
all clarinet players have spent time struggling with.

Proper single tonguing is essential for excellent playing, especially as
double tonguing won't work above the 2nd register.

Soft attacks become much easier when tongue strength and poise are mastered.
I hear people talking about air attacks for high soft notes, but I must tell
you honestly I use the air attack for less than 5% of the high soft notes I
attack. It is simply less reliable than proper articulation.

That said, finger dexterity will be improved by working on scales and
arpeggios IN ALL KEYS, every day. This will also program your (possibly
enlarging) brain to recognize patterns in music, the vast majority of which
are based on these same scales and arpeggios.

Scales and arpeggios, you ask? But I want better finger dexterity TOMMOROW!
Well, too bad, it takes months or even years to become fluent.

For me, scales are like a long term investment. I play them every day. They
might not make me better next week, but I KNOW for a fact that I'll have more
and better technique one year from today. And if you know my playing, you
know that my technique is already pretty good.

Incidentally, the Jeanjean VadeMecum was mentioned. It is an excellent book,
particularly when used in conjuction with extended scale practice. The way I
think of it, the scales build the technique. This book will help smooth it

When I practice scales, I also do a thorough articulation workout. The tongue
is a muscle and it must be developed. And its connection to the brain must be
solidified so that it will do whatever your musical brain demands of it.
Again, it won't happen overnight. If you have developed bad tongue habits,
you're in for a long, uphill fight. YOU NEED A TEACHER WHO HAS GOOD
ARTICULATION to get you through it. Make him/her demonstrate a lot. Your ear
will help guide the tongue to its proper function.

David Hattner, NYC


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