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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000172.txt from 2003/10

From: (Ormondtoby Montoya)
Subj: Re: [kl] [clarinet] reeds for beginners?
Date: Tue, 7 Oct 2003 18:42:12 -0400

I wrote:

> encourage students to **experiment** on their
> own as well as to listen to the instructor's
> advice

Richard Bush wrote:

> I see no possible good coming from allowing
> a beginner to start experimenting or sampling
> different brands of reeds

Part of the discussion depends on what you and I mean by "beginner".
This is why my post included: "Imo, once beginners reach the point where
adjusting a reed makes a reproducible difference....". That is, I
noticed K. Brannon's statement that she regularly adjusts reeds for
students, and this implies to me that the students' techniques are
sufficiently stable that adjustment of a particular reed produces stable
(repeatable, reproducible) results. If a student simply can't sound
the notes at approximately accurate pitch, then something else is wrong
and adjusting a reed won't help.

There is something else to consider --- namely, beginners commonly blame
their equipment for their problems. "It's the ligature's fault", blah
blah blah. I've made such claims myself, and my teacher's response
was: "OK, the shop has 6 different ligatures on the shelf out there.
You should try them and buy the one that you like best, and next week
we'll listen to you play this same music." Of course, I made the same
mistake with every ligature, and finally it sank in that something was
truly wrong with my own technique. I still have several unused
ligatures sitting in my drawer.

I witnessed one such episode at a masterclass by Fred Ormond. The
student, who *was* quite advanced, stopped in mid-performance to change
reeds. I don't remember Fred Ormond's reply verbatim, but it amounted
to: "For crying out loud! Pay attention to what you're doing, it isn't
the reed!"

My point is that encouraging the student to try alternatives and to
'face the music', as opposed to leading a student by the hand in a
spirit of absolute authority and omniscience, is perhaps the better
teaching method.

I suppose I should conclude by acknowledging that no single method works
best in every case. Certainly a beginner can feel overpowered if
offered too many variables all at once. But on balance, the final goal
of instruction is to leave the student with the ability to make
effective decisions about music as they play, and students need
'decision-making practice' just as much as they need 'scale practice'
and 'fingering practice' and 'rhythm practice' and so forth. Hence
encouraging them to experiment on their own is a good thing (a necessary
thing) so long as the instructor doesn't see them becoming overpowered
by the huge variety of choices or by an unwillingness to accept advice
when advice is truly appropriate.

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