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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000510.txt from 2003/10

From: CBA <>
Subj: Re: [kl] [clarinet] Beginners?
Date: Sun, 19 Oct 2003 02:01:33 -0400

Christy and Gil,

My experience with beginners is that reeds are usually
*unbalanced* as opposed to being too hard or soft. My beginning
students usually advance from #2s to #2.5s in about 6 months,
and then to a #3 around 9 months (give or take a few months, for
fast or slow progress.) I use the Fobes "Debut" or the Hite
"Premiere" with all of my first year students. With regular
playing, the embouchure is usually too strong for a soft reed on
a medium tip mouthpiece, and the student isn't aware enough yet
to control not closing off the sound with varying embouchure

The reason for this progression is not to tell the students that
a harder reed is always right, but to keep the student from
hindering their embouchures' development playing on TOO soft a
reed. We usually don't go past a #3 on those mouthpieces. We
might progress to a harder reed if they are ready for a
different mouthpiece, but that is dependent on whether they are
ready for a different mouthpiece, and also which mouthpiece they
use. My jazz students get switched to mouthpieces with a more
open tip and/or a longer facing, and then either stay at a #3 or
move down to a 2.5 again for flexibility, but that is usually
after 1.5 - 2 years.

Some 15 years ago, I was in a reed class given by Tom Ridenhour.
I was amazed at how a few adjustments to a "hard" reed could
make it quite playable, without sacrificing the texture of the
sound. Most of my students play well with the softer reed at
first, but then after 10-15 minutes of playing, a #2 or #2.5
reed starts to close off after getting warmed up. A #3 won't. I
insist my students of less than 6 months of playing not go past
the 15 miute mark of playing at any one time, to keep them from
developing lazy mouth habits from their mouth tiring out, so the
soft reed doesn't matter to them anyway. Once we get to playing
over 15 minutes at a time, the harder reed is quite necessary. A
too soft reed can cause just as many problems closing off the
sound and a too hard reed can make with too much resistance for
a beginner. A good balanced reed with the right strength for the
advancement of the beginner will usually play with better
response than a soft unbalanced reed (or any unbalanced reed,
for that matter.)

By the way, I usually start to teach my students about balancing
their own reeds after 6 months. Up until then, I usually have a
student bring in their reeds, and I work on all of the ones they
play (which takes me about 2 or 3 minutes a reed...3 or 4 a
week, per student, while they are warming up.) If I was in a
band directing situation, I would say a clarinet master class
given by a clarinettist maybe every 3 to 4 weeks is a good help
to this cause too...

My 2 cents...

Kelly Abraham
Clarinet and Saxophone - New York City
--- Gilbert Guerrero <> wrote:
> Christy,
> I continue to not make my point or you continue to miss it, or
> both.
> I'm not suggesting that my teacher is better than another
> teacher.
> I am only suggesting that a "just right" reed, when it can be
> located, is
> better than a too hard or too soft one. To take your argument
> to it's
> logical flipside, I substitute one word:
> If the reed is simply too SOFT, they also won't have a clue
> that the problem
> is NOT with them while they are sitting at home trying to
> figure out why
> they can't produce much of a tone. As they may have problems
> of squeaking
> and choking off the reed.
> Best Regards,
> Gil
> On 10/9/03 9:57, the Carbon unit named "Christy Erickson"
> <> wrote:
> > I think it's fairly safe to say that most teachers could
> help a 7 year old
> > student do this. The question is, how long could the child
> sustain that
> > tone and how many tones could he or she play consecutively
> with that setup?
> > I would rather err on the side of having a reed that is too
> soft, than one
> > that is too hard or simply unplayable for a beginner. The
> parent can always
> > get stronger reeds and of course you can adjust a reed to
> make it softer but
> > when the kid goes home, they won't have a clue how to do
> this. If the reed
> > is simply too hard, they also won't have a clue that the
> problem is NOT with
> > them while they are sitting at home trying to figure out why
> they can't
> > produce much of a tone. Christy

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