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 High E Volitile
Author: jonathan.wallaceadams 
Date:   2018-02-27 05:03

My high E always shoots up to double-A when I slur up to it when I do my long tone warm up (4 beats/ note, ascending chromatically.) It occurs after about 2 seconds of holding it. It also currently has response worse than my High F#.
What could be happening? My teacher and I have looked into it and it isn't something I'm doing as it happens to them as well. Could it be a leak?

My high D is also not that stable anymore.

Just an aspiring student.
Buffet Tradition
Mpc.: Hawkins "G", Barrel: Moba, Reeds: Reserve 3.5+

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 Re: High E Volitile
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2018-02-27 07:21

A leak would be my first guess. Might be the pad between lh index and middle fingers, or the lh sliver key pad, or the bottom rh trill key pad.

Something else to look at might be the lh index finger hole - is it clean inside? Sometimes debris builds up in tone holes and can cause problems.

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 Re: High E Volitile
Author: Bob Barnhart 2017
Date:   2018-02-27 10:17

Both these problems could involve leaks, but perhaps working with a different fingering for high-E will help to make it more stable.

You can finger this as T+R+G#|XXX|000 (i.e., just like the "standard" fingering, but add the LH 1st finger and the throat G# key. This fingering is typically a bit sharp, but can easily be "lipped down" (while maintaining air support) and is quite stable, particularly when slurring up.

You might also work on slurring from C4-G5 (just add the register key), then G5 to E6 (just add the throat G#). This can give you a better feeling for how to voice and support these notes. In time you might not need to consider the alternative fingering for high-E although I've found it to be helpful more often than not.

An additional exercise that is very instructive on how to control altissimo notes involves learning to play 12ths just by voicing and aid support. For example, one can play low C (C4) then by adjusting the voicing of the airstream, produce the G (G5) a 12th above. I was taught to visualize this by thinking of "pointing the airstream" ABOVE the instrument while keeping the airstream strong and focused. "Raising the airstream" again should produce the 12th above that, i.e., E6. You could also try this starting on low Bb, overblowing to F(5), then overblowing to high D(6).

While the pitches of the 12ths are not accurate when produced this way, this exercise helps develop additional skills that should enable you to determine how to voice notes in the altissimo to keep them stable by visualizing how you manipulate the airstream.

I hope this helps.

Bob Barnhart

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 Re: High E Volitile
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-02-27 18:54

Altissimo E will overblow to the altissimo A as the A is the next in the clarinet's harmonic series of that fingering (C4-G5-E6-A6 - the A6 being a very flat Bb), so make sure you're not pushing or lipping the E up too much for it to overblow to the A.

Former oboe finisher
Howarth of London
1998 - 2010

The opinions I express are my own.

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 Re: High E Volitile
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2018-02-28 00:19

Sounds like it's a recent thing. If it's not a leak, and the rings are closing the attached vent, it might be gunk in a tone hole.

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 Re: High E Volitile
Author: Bob Barnhart 2017
Date:   2018-02-28 00:26

Thanks Chris for mentioning that A6 would be the next pitch in the series of 12s—I was tired and trying to get a quick walk in for the dog and just neglected it.

However, Chris is right that we must learn the type of voicing and level of air support required to place each of the “volitile” notes where they should be.

Bob Barnhart

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 Re: High E Volitile
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-03-03 18:08

Being a double lip player, it happens to me too when I get tired. So many teachers suggest a 'smile' embouchure but a "whistling" embouchure has always worked better for me. Pressing the side muscles inward always helps the sound and the control. It is easy just to give it a try. If, like you say, it happens after a few seconds, it could just be the jaw muscles have taken over and the side muscles have given up.

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