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 RE: Extraneous Clicking
Author: Ken Shaw 
Date:   1999-09-13 21:18

Ben wrote:
In the past few days, I have been using tape recorders, so I can listen to my clarinet playing. One of the biggest problems I have with my sound is the attack. Every time I start a new phrase, or tounge a note, the reed creates a rough clicking sound. Strangly, I do not notice this very much while I play, but it sounds quite bad on recording.
Is there any way to reduce this clicking? Could it be my embouchure, tounging technique, reed, or mouthpiece? Any info or ideas are appreciated, the more the better

-Ben Legg

Ben -

It's hard to tell without hearing you, but I suspect that you're using too hard a tongue stroke. Are you anchor tonguing? (That is, are you tucking the tip of your tongue down behind your front teeth and holding it there while you strike the reed with the area behind the tip of your tongue?) Anchor tonguing produces a very hard stroke that can sound like a rough click.

If you're anchor tonguing, or if you're tonguing "tip-to-tip" (which is the preferred way) but just very hard, the best way is to do an exercise I learned from Bob Lowery, who was a top clinician a number of years ago.

Wrap your left and around the barrel and play an open G, at a firm mezzo forte. Lay your tongue along the bottom of your mouth, lapping slightly over your lower teeth, and raise the tip until it is just behind the tip of the reed. Then make a series of very soft "LA" movements with the tip of your tongue, **without** touching the reed. Do this until it feels comfortable. (You may find your mouth fills with saliva. Just swallow and carry on. You'll soon get over it.)

Then, take a good but not too deep breath and start the G again. Make the LA strokes, this time very gradually moving the tip of your tongue forward until it barely brushes against the tip of the reed. (This may tickle. Once again, you'll get over it quickly.) The sensation you want is that the tone and air never stop. The LA makes only a ripple on the surface of the continuing tone.

Continue this until you are confident about making only a tiny touch. Then, back off until you are just missing the reed, and move back, continuing until you are confident and familiar with how it feels and how to do it.

Once you can reliably make the lightest possible LA stroke, practice making it just a little bit more, so that it produces a very light, connected series of notes, with the tongue almost bouncing off the tip of the reed. Once again, the tone and breath should never stop.

Then move your hands back to the normal playing position and do the sequence again on the clarion G on top of the staff. When you get that comfortable, play a sequence of 8 repeated sixteenth notes at a comfortably fast tempo -- no faster than 120 per quarter note on the metronome.

Next, move a note lower, to the clarion F on the top line. Play 8 notes on F and then 8 on E. The goal is to put down your middle finger so lightly that there is no impact or vibration. Move back and forth between F and E until you feel comfortable.

Now go back to the G and work on the G to F interval. This is more difficult to do without vibration, since your right index finger has to push the ring key down.

Next, play a descending G major scale (remember the F#) down one octave, 8 repeated notes per step. Always keep the tone and breath going, with the lightest possible tongue -- lighter than you would ever play in performance -- so light a person listening would have to strain to hear it.

When, and only when, you're comfortable, reduce the number of repeated notes to 4, then to 2, and finally 1. There is no timetable for this. Keep at it until you get it right.

Then work up your various scales with this ultra-light tongue and no-vibration finger movements. Finally, move to arpeggios.


Two other things can also contribute to the problem: movement of the jaw or throat along with the tongue, and blowing a puff of air on each articulation. Look at your jaw and throat in a mirror as you play, and put your free hand on your belly to make sure you're not varying your air stream. Both of these problems should be solved by thinking of the tone as constant, and being stopped very briefly by the tongue.

By the way -- you will also have weaned yourself from anchor tonguing (if you had been doing it before).

You will of course be called on to do "hard" articulations from time to time. But you already know how to do that.

Best regards.

Ken Shaw

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 Topics Author  Date
 Extraneous Clicking  new
Ben 1999-09-13 19:38 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
paul 1999-09-13 20:02 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
STuart 1999-09-13 20:49 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Kevin Bowman 1999-09-13 21:15 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Ken Shaw 1999-09-13 21:18 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Hiroshi 1999-09-14 00:33 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking- for Ben  new
Rick2 1999-09-14 04:44 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Jim Carabetta 1999-09-14 12:24 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Ben 1999-09-14 18:00 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Ken Shaw 1999-09-14 21:05 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Rick2 1999-09-15 04:34 

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