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Author: BGBG 
Date:   2018-04-03 02:10

I find myself unsure how to proceed when problems arise, like squeaks and such. Not sure whether to change mouthpieces, go slower, try another reed harder or softer, practice the troublesome notes over and over, work on the reed by rubbing or bending or adjusting it, or the embouchure, or what. Not so much trouble in the lower register but more in the next higher register. Just uncertain as to how to approach it. Not able to analyze exactly what the problem is or what to do to improve it. Maybe there is some procedure or step by step test to determine trouble area? Any tips?

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 Re: Practicing
Author: Speculator Sam 
Date:   2018-04-03 02:14

How long have you been playing? You're mentioning instrument parts, but it's hard to give an answer immediately without knowing your playing experience. Also, what reed size and brand are you playing? The registers, by the way, are called chalameau (low), clarion (middle, so once you pop that register key after throat Bb), and anything higher than high C (thumb and register key) is altissimo.

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 Re: Practicing
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-04-03 04:04

Can you tell if a squeak will happen? Does it always happen in a specific way?
If you can play an open G without squeaks, start adding fingers one at a time and see if any fingering starts to want to squeak. Vibrations move up and down the clarinet tube from the mouthpiece to the first open hole (in the chalameau). Look around the area just where the last finger went down. look at pads and maybe a wrong key did not close properly in that area. Clarinets are logical things and logically thinking about they work can lead you to find the problem.

If squeaks happen anywhere differently each time, then embouchure may be the problem. A good teacher could be a big help right now. Search for Tom Ridenour's videos on YouTube. He has hundreds and there are some on finding clarinet problems.

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 Re: Practicing
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2018-04-03 06:52

Playing since May 2014. Have various brands 2.5 and 3.0 reeds. I play along and when something goes wrong I do not seem to know how to analyze or approach it. The I panic and give up. But then I do not learn or get better.

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 Re: Practicing
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2018-04-03 07:25

After decent instruction through high school and a couple years beyond, I quit for 32 or 33 years. Starting again in 2007, I'd forgotten most of what I used to know, and lacking any available teachers I simply have worked alone.

You can get better at solving your own problems. That improves with practice just like anything else. As Ken indicated, if you're squeaking, try to narrow it down, identify specific contexts, then ask what would be special about those? It's often a divide and conquer kind of thing. Sometimes you vary one aspect and see what happens after a decent trial. Sometimes you see if you can cause the problem on purpose, and get so you can do it on command, because at that point you'll be able to identify what not to do. Etc.

Patience is a big thing here. No need to panic, nobody's holding a whip. Stop and list what you know about the problem, then ask your brain some question about it - any question. Finding solutions is pretty much always about asking questions. And you get better at asking "smart" questions. It's almost a mystical thing: put a question in, and an answer pops out, not necessarily the final answer, but the next step toward one. If one thing doesn't work, that's then added to what you know about the problem, and you ask something else.

And focus! Oftentimes the music is a million miles away, and instead you're thinking all about two opposing muscles, or how the reed is aligned with the mouthpiece rail, or looking sideways in a mirror to see what your jaw is really doing.

None of this negates the truth that a teacher will usually solve things for you immediately. They have a lot more experience and data, and they're able to observe you better than you can yourself. (Though, self-awareness gets better with practice too.) Even a single lesson may give you big improvements. It's the best answer to your question.

Having said all that, solving one's own problems can become a habit one gets reluctant to change.

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 Re: Practicing
Author: nellsonic 
Date:   2018-04-04 02:56

If you want the best advice available here post a video of your playing, ideally showing your hands and embouchure as you play.

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 Re: Practicing
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2018-04-05 01:45

I think the most difficult thing about clarinets is that as soon as I read some tip or procedure and start doing it I then read that some totally opposite procedure is what everyone is using. It makes me wonder how so many seemingly opposite things can be correct. All in all I have improved and I guess you never know it all, but I keep on trying. And I am sort of a self-doer anyway.
I will keep working on this high register squealing-thing...maybe I will find the cause and remedy. Maybe just need more practice on the notes until good.

Post Edited (2018-04-05 02:09)

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 Re: Practicing
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-04-05 02:42

BGBG wrote:

> I think the most difficult thing about clarinets is that as
> soon as I read some tip or procedure and start doing it I then
> read that some totally opposite procedure is what everyone is
> using.

Well, that's not really a difficulty with the clarinet. It's a difficulty of trying to teach yourself without in-person help. Folks here have to try, using your problem reports, to diagnose something that we can't hear. Each person imagines the problem differently, and different causes for any given problem will suggest different solutions.

When you ask questions about things like reed procedures, there just aren't right answers, so you get an entire gamut of anecdotal ideas with no real way to discriminate among the ones that work and don't work because you have no real frame of reference by which to judge results.

By the time you've tried five suggested solutions to a problem, you've confused yourself to the point that even going back to where you started may be difficult.

If the stimulation of learning as a DYI project is your main interest, you should be enjoying the challenge. If actually learning to play the clarinet as well as you can is the greater interest, you need to have access to someone who can listen and diagnose in person in real time based on actually hearing and seeing you in action. You don't need weekly lessons with a teacher - just someone who is knowledgeable to whom you can go as needed with your questions.

For what it's worth, the best help you could get right now is to have someone point you toward a working setup that, if it isn't perfection itself, will not get in your way and will not cause you problems in basic tone production. Having found such a setup, you should then stop trying to solve problems by changing equipment around - don't change mouthpieces, ligatures, reeds (except if one breaks or has obviously deteriorated over time). There are many problems that can cause "squeaks and such." The more variables you can keep unchanged, the more likely you are to find a solution. Changing too many things at once just complicates the search and leads to frustration.


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 Re: Practicing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-04-06 06:51

It may be helpful to remember why a squeak occurs. A squeak happens when one part of the reed (usually left versus right) vibrates faster than the other. Since you get this affect regularly I assume it is on various reeds somewhat ruling out an irregularity in the cane.

Ensure that your reed is centered on the mouthpiece from the butt the way to the tip (equal amounts of mouthpiece rail and table visible on both sides). Also make sure to look at the system from the side and ensure the tip of the reed is covering the entire tip rail.

This of course assumes that your rails are even and your ligature is affixed so that it "binds" evenly as well.

The last bit would be to make sure you have the mouthpiece evenly in your mouth. It could be that all the above is fine but you angle the mouthpiece unevenly in your mouth causing one side to vibrate a longer length of the reed (check the tooth marks on the mouthpiece or mouthpiece patch).

..........hope that helps.

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

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 Re: Practicing
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2019-03-13 03:39

Just wanted to say that I'm really valuing the "voices of experience" on this board. In particular, in this old thread, Philip Caron's counsel to have patience as one learns and to work toward problem solving really resonates with me.

Thank you all for having patience with those of us at different places in our clarinet learning.

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 Re: Practicing
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-03-14 06:51

Have a repairman check your horn out. Squeaks can come from bad pads to joints that aren't tight enough. Also weak springs, but unusual.

When was the last time your horn was serviced? I feel a horn needs to be serviced about once a year, just checked over. Every 4 or 5 years a complete overhaul should be considered.

The famous Harold Wright bought new horns within every 10 years. Horns do warp and the wood surely changes so I'm sure he was looking for some sort of sound.

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

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 Re: Practicing
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2019-03-15 03:18

Actually it is nearly 5 years old and has never been serviced.

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