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 Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: vitoclarinet 
Date:   2006-01-26 12:51

Hello there. The thing is I've encountered some reed problems recently and i need advice! I'm playing on vandoren 4 reeds and i've tried using sand paper to break the reeds. But for some reason whenever i send the reeds, i always end up damaging them by making the tip too thin. I've tried different methods as to not make the tip of the reed so thin but so far there's been very little success. Please help!

Also(this is completely unrelated), after two years of failure, i've finally made the districts! I was very happy and everything but to my surprise a 7th grader(I'm in 9th grade) had gotten the first part while I got the second! You might wonder how that's surprising but no offence, I thought I played much better than her in terms of tone quality, technicality, and pretty much everything! I don't know what's gone wrong and I feel greatly depressed. Does this mean that I need to work harder? My teachers have told me that I'm the best clarinest of all the clarinettests tried out for the audition, and I personally too think that I did much better than the 7th grader(don't get me wrong, she's an excellent player). Maybe I just need practice harder... i have no clue.. please help me with my dilemma!


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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2006-01-26 13:06

> I thought I played much better

Self-perception is, especially when playing a wind instrument or singing, quite different from what others hear. (think about singing along your portable CD player with the headphones on).

Sometimes it's just tiny details that influence the jury. Don't grieve about this. Get over it.


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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2006-01-26 13:18

Why not just use softer reeds instead of sanding them down?

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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: mkybrain 
Date:   2006-01-26 13:26

working harder would always be a good idea though

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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: Brenda Siewert 
Date:   2006-01-26 13:43

Have you tried the Vandoren V-12s? They come with an extra "cut" that sometimes eliminates the need to sand. You need to buy 1/2 strength lower than normal, so if you use a regular Vandoren 4, you would buy a 3 1/2 with the V-12.

As to your situation. You were honored to be seated in the 2nd seat in such a prestigious group. 1st would have been better, but perhaps the judges didn't feel you were ready for it. There must have been a reason for the decision. If you speak to your teacher about it perhaps there will be clarification. But, for now, rejoice in the fact that you are one of the best of the best! And since you're so young, you will have plenty of time to achieve more on your instrument as time goes on. This will pass. Keep on keeping on and strive to improve. Attitude is also a test that will divide one player from another--strive to always have a positive attitude and resist becoming arrogant as you receive honors. Being a good person to work with goes a long way toward success--as much as your technical skills. Congratulations.

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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: Bassie 
Date:   2006-01-26 14:02

Vandoren 4 is very hard on most mouthpieces. I understand the pressure to 'advance' to harder reeds - but my advice is to take a step back from the problem and consider if you're going the right route. Unless you're playing an M13 or something similar.

Advice (hopefully not too lame) for 2nd clarinetists: try and make the part at least as good as the 1st part. Often it's as difficult, occasionally more so. If there's a 3rd part, be nice to them. If you want to express yourself, form a quartet - no understudies there, each part is exposed and essential.

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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: David Peacham 
Date:   2006-01-26 14:44

Brenda wrote: "You need to buy 1/2 strength lower than normal, so if you use a regular Vandoren 4, you would buy a 3 1/2 with the V-12."

That is the exact opposite of my experience, and of the advice of Vandoren's reed comparison chart.


If there are so many people on this board unwilling or unable to have a civil and balanced discussion about important issues, then I shan't bother to post here any more.

To the great relief of many of you, no doubt.

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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: seafaris 
Date:   2006-01-26 14:48

Have you looked at Tom Ridenour's ATG system for sanding reeds? You would sand against the grain using a small block with two light grades of paper. You would play the reed first a few days to break it in. You would not necessarily sand the tip except to balance it. You would sand the sides up and away from the tip first, this makes the reed respond better. I have used this system for over a year and although I have ruined some reeds it was always when I sanded the tip to much and not the sides first. It takes me about a week to get the reed right if it needs anything at all. I was using regular vandorans #3 and did find as the other poster said going down one step. I play jazz type music and with my setup find that the softer reed works best for me.



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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: OpusII 
Date:   2006-01-26 15:00

I've to second many of the answers here....

Try a Rico Grand Select Thick or Vandoren V12 reed and use the ATG system.... but work very very hard....

Working very hard will solve the most problems and it will improve your sound greatly....

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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2006-01-26 15:09

Dear Vito,

After ALL these years and gadgets I have the same experience with Vandoren 4s. This is the only reed or reed strength I will ever play....but I have always tried to .....make it better!

The reed resurfacer by Vandoren which is made of glass is the easiest (and non wearing) way to smooth a reed. Even with this little gem, I find that it is best to just do a very slight smoothing (NEVER involving the tip). I alternate smoothing and not smoothing from box to box. Still, the unsmoothed reeds work best......DAMN !!!!

As for the audition/placement, Leon Russianoff used to say that every time he sat a board to listen to incoming players he could rely on one colleague to consistantly pick the clarinetist that sounded like a train going over a trestle as the best. You are subject to the subjective........that's part of the whole game.

Keep plugging away!

..................Paul Aviles

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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: Gandalfe 
Date:   2006-01-26 15:28

Paul, have you tried the ATG? I can't imagine anything easier than that.

Jim and Suzy

Pacifica Big Band
Seattle, Washington

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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2006-01-26 16:08

Get a sheet of fine-wet-or-dry (black coating) sandpaper you. 600 grit is available in most hardware stores.

Cut a strip about 1" wide and 4" long and use it to sand the tip thinner, always stroking toward the tip. The more worn the sandpaper gets, the better. I have strips that I've used for years, which I reserve for final finishing.

Thinning the tip is not a cure-all. I have a dial micrometer and find that 0.006"to 0.007" is as thin as you should go. Much more important is side-to-side balance and a smooth gradation from the shoulder to the tip.

Ask your teacher for reed adjustment work for at least part of your lessons.


Talk to your band/orchestra director about your playing, and ask about possible flaws in your playing that kept you out of the first chair position. The most important reasons players don't do well on auditions are:

RHYTHM: Even if you have fast fingers, you will be downgraded for inaccurate rhythm. You have to count like a demon on auditions, and twice as hard on the rests as on the notes. You easily could have dropped a beat on a long rest, which is enough to drop you down a position in the section. Work with a metronome.

UNEVENNESS: It's **much** better to play a requested scale perfectly and evenly in 16ths at 100 than rip it off with little mistakes and uneven flow at 144. If the audition judges want it faster, they will ask, but NEVER PLAY FASTER THAN PERFECT. Similarly, play the audition music passages a little slower than your maximum speed, concentrating on accuracy.

FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS: The judges take this seriously. If you're told to start playing on the third beat of line 2, measure 4, you must start exactly there even if it's a single note followed by a long rest.

INTONATION: Have someone else watch a tuner as you play a slow passage with high notes in it. It's easy to get off and important to correct.

Finally, you could have been a bit off, and the player who beat you out could have been on the best day ever. You'll get it next time.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: bcl1dso 
Date:   2006-01-26 20:31

I don't know. I just want to know why you are using a size 4 reed in 9th grade. You sound can't be traveling, bonades philosophy was that a vibrating sound will mellow as it travels sound big and round to the audience.

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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: ElBlufer 
Date:   2006-01-26 21:38

bcl1dso wrote:

> I don't know. I just want to know why you are using a size 4
> reed in 9th grade. You sound can't be traveling, bonades
> philosophy was that a vibrating sound will mellow as it travels
> sound big and round to the audience.

I am also a ninth grader using a size 4 Vandoren 56 rue lepic, and my sound does travel (a little too much). Also, what I would recommend is to just play the reeds for 5 minutes a day for a week or so to break them in instead of using sandpaper.

My Setup:
R13 Clarinet (Ridenour Lyrique as my backup/marching instrument)
Walter Grabner K11 mouthpiece
Rico Reserve 3.5's
Bonade ligature

Post Edited (2006-01-27 19:35)

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 Re: Problems! Need professional advice!
Author: Katrina 
Date:   2006-01-27 16:27

School grade and reed strength have nothing to do with one another. Mouthpiece facing and reed strength have everything to do with one another.


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