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 Tounguing trouble in altissimo
Author: Musikat 
Date:   2017-09-10 04:21

I am playing a piece that requires me to tongue a fast 16th note repeated 7 times on high E above the staff and then D. I can do it, but sometimes the note pitch doesn't stay consistent as I toungue: it goes slightly flat. If I just hold those notes they tend sharp normally for me.

As I am practicing this piece, any advice on what to do to improve this? I am trying to be aware of whether my embouchure is moving a bit during this, using more air support, etc. I have no problem fast tounguing any other register but once I get above C it is more challenging.

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 Re: Tounguing trouble in altissimo
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2017-09-10 08:01

Well the great Bob Marcellus always said to do 2 things. Lets talk about your embouchure first. Your upper lip should be pushing in a downwards direction towards your lower lip. Although Bob was a single lip player he did play double lip for a period of time sitting next to Iggie Gennusa who played double lip all of his life and Bob really liked Gennusa's sound. Well Bob found that if he pushed his upper lip towards his lower lip it gave the same feeling as playing with a double lip. I think if you practice warm-ups with a double lip everyday for a few months and look at a mirror everyday your embouchure issues will be solved.

The next thing he taught his students was to keep the tongue as close to the reed as possible. Well this makes sense is many ways. It keeps your throat open and you learn to lightly touch the reed. This will keep you from going flat and sharp. So practice very slowly the lower notes first. Then once you put all of this together the upper register will speak freely. Maybe not tomorrow or next week. It may take a few months or several month, but it will become a lot of fun to play.

I have to talk about mouthpieces and horns a bit here. Both have to fit you well. For me I am much more comfortable playing the upper notes on Yamaha CSVR clarinets. I struggled with Buffets. Some mouthpieces such as the Vandoren M series play flat on me in the upper register with Buffets. Well they are longer than most mouthpieces and the bores are larger. You shouldn't have to fight the pitch and bite. I play with a double lip and my mouthpiece is shorter and I'm in tune with the Yamaha's and the notes pop out. I suppose I'm lucky. The horns don't cost much, they sound great and I can attack the upper register without worries. Buffets notes often crack on me.

Everyone is different so first develop that Bob Marcellus theory and get some help from your teacher if you have one. The upper register isn't going away so we need to welcome it.

One of the things I did was play violin music because most of it went into the upper register and there isn't enough written for the clarinet. It was also great training for transposing.

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 Re: Tounguing trouble in altissimo
Author: Musikat 
Date:   2017-09-10 09:14

Thanks, Bob. With your first two points, I think I am already doing that, although I will try being more conscious of the upper lip pressure,which is something I have been focusing on more in the last 6 months or so but may not have perfected yet. I am good at tounguing in all the other registers, and I think my placement in relation to the reed is what you describe, but I will pay close attention when I practice tomorrow.

As for equipment, my clarinet is an R13. I recently changed mouthpieces to a Gregory Smith, and then reeds to the Arias and I feel like I finally have a great working combination. Playing and practicing is fun again. My tone, ease of playing and high notes have all improved.

My gut is that it is an embouchure/air support issue, because I CAN get it right, it just isn't consistent. It is only on high D and above that I ever have trouble tounguing fast like that. I just wondered if this is a common thing, or if I just need to practice more "up there?"

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 Re: Tounguing trouble in altissimo
Author: nellsonic 
Date:   2017-09-11 11:21

Check to be sure the position of the tongue is remaining consistent further back in your mouth. This is one of the many aspects of clarinet playing that requires more precision in the altissimo register than the others.

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