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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000594.txt from 2004/10

From: Adam Michlin <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Re: Some more thoughts on Embouchure
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 2004 14:07:24 -0400

At 01:41 PM 10/21/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>Adam, I have a few thoughts. Victor Morosco's Training Routine didn't quite
>work for me, either. The first three steps are ok; they get the clarinet
>mouth and air into the clarinet. But the 4th step talks about the 'pressure'
>needed to make the clarinet sound. It doesn't seem useful to encourage 'jaw
>pressure' and no 'lip pressure'. I think we all agree that some sort of
>firmness is necessary, but talking too much about jaw and lips
>specifically gets
>confusing, gets over detailed, and gets us all arguing about how to put it
>into words.

Lip pressure dulls the vibration of the reed, I think this is important.

>I appreciate your efforts to come up with a description of our process that
>would help beginners understand what they are doing. But they don't need to
>understand in detail the physics before they are making sounds, do they?

A kid drops a ball, it falls. They don't need to understand the physics to
experience cause and effect. I'm trying to boil down cause and effect, not
teaching students the vast physics of musical instruments (I do some of
that, too, but not in one group lesson!).

>I think I read it suggested here that often the best teaching is letting the
>student emulate making the good sound of the teacher (after tending to the
>most basic things, lower lip on teeth, no puffing, keep the face from moving,
>etc.) . And to analyze more if and only if stubborn problems emerge.

I believe in a more balanced approach of emulation and understanding, but
this is a personal decision every teacher has to make.

Now consider the band director in Outer Mongolia Middle School who took 10
weeks of clarinet and was tested on his ability to play a full chromatic
scale on a badly maintained Bundy with a random mouthpiece and a 2 Rico
reed. Emulation (or as the education people like to put it: modeling) just
isn't an option.

Yes, of course, the real solution is to fix the clarinet method classes
(all the more reason to be able to explain cause and effect, I should
add!). But this teacher is now out in the real world and I get one hour to
explain cause and effect in relationship to diagnosing common clarinet tone
production problems. Or I could play for them and say "This is how a
clarinet is supposed to sound" insulting them in the process. This is why
I'm so interested in the topic.

I know this is why we have private teachers, but there are plenty of places
where private teachers are just not available and where private teachers
are just not affordable. Do we doom all the students just because the band
director can't "model" the clarinet?


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