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 High Note Trouble
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2019-06-19 01:22

This is probably an elementary question but I am trying to develop a strategy here to now what to do next.
Playing Stranger On The Shore in key of C with #2 reed. low part is good. When I get to very high part the notes are hard to sound and I am wondering what to try next. Thought maybe the logic would be to first try a 2.5 or a 3 reed, which I do have, to see if improves. Like to have a logical plan rather just try things that may or may not work and waste time. How would someone more experienced approach this? Thanks for any suggestions. Thought at first the reed might be too wet because of high humidity but maybe just need different reed. Could try but still would not know what others would do. So I thought I would ask.

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 Re: High Note Trouble
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-06-19 02:03

BGBG wrote:

> Playing Stranger On The Shore in key of C with #2 reed.

Unless you're playing on a very open-tipped mouthpiece - this may be your main problem.

> low part is good. When I get to very high part the notes are hard
> to sound and I am wondering what to try next.

This is consistent with a too-soft reed (among other possibilities, but it's the most likely and the easiest to remedy).

> Thought maybe the
> logic would be to first try a 2.5 or a 3 reed, which I do have,
> to see if improves.

Yes, but 1 reed of any strength isn't a reliable test - you should try two or three of each strength, and if you have new ones (not previously used), try those first.

> Like to have a logical plan rather just try
> things that may or may not work and waste time.

That *is* a plan. There's never a guarantee against anything you try not working or against wasting time. The best approach, IMO, is to try the simplest fix first to any problem. Changing reeds is one of the simplest fixes available.

> How would
> someone more experienced approach this?

I would try different reeds. If that didn't solve the problem, I'd try to analyze what I could be doing with my embouchure that's causing it. High notes (you don't say *how* high) that don't come out easily can very easily indicate many problems, but the fact that you're using #2s suggests that trying a stiffer reed should be the first attempt.

Karl

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 Re: High Note Trouble
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-19 03:28

There is the possibility that the reed strength you presently use is a bit too mushy for you, however, I like to point out that using a bit more air and a bit more "energy" in your embouchure is usually necessary to get higher notes to speak properly. One indicator would be if you watch the pitch of the notes on your tuner (or tuner app) and find that the notes tend to get a little flatter each note as you move up. That would definitely tell you that more support (air and embouchure) is required.






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



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 Re: High Note Trouble
Author: klim 
Date:   2019-06-19 04:44

I agree with Paul and Karl that a stiffer reed would be a good start. It's not a waste of time - finding what doesn't work is the necessary path to finding what does (and I actually find it an enjoyable part of the journey).

From my own experience, I found that lowering the reed a bit from the tip of the mouthpiece and taking more mp in my mouth helped with high notes, especially above high C.

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 Re: High Note Trouble
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2019-06-19 06:58

Thanks for the info. I have been playing since 2014 and only took 16 lessons and play only for myself. Therefore though I might think of things to try I do not have anywhere near the experience or knowledge as you people so I wanted to at least ask. I do have new reeds of 2.5 and 3.0 (the 2.0's I am using now are on their 46th day of playing since started them. I will try these suggestions. Thanks again. Without the experience and knowledge I was afraid that just randomly trying different things would not be the best approach.

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 Re: High Note Trouble
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-19 07:14

hmmmmm...........


After forty-six days of playing on a reed, the chances are that it is becoming brittle and unresponsive in the upper register.





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



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 Re: High Note Trouble
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2019-06-19 16:54

I agree with a new and perhaps stronger reed as # 1, try taking in more mouthpiece #2, more breath support #3, less Pinching against the reed as you play higher #4, a stronger reed could make the difference here. All else fail, try a different mouthpiece if your not willing to take some lessons with a pro teacher-player.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: High Note Trouble
Author: Kaos 
Date:   2019-06-19 19:01

Sometimes for high notes it may help to keep the clarinet a little closer to your body, move it in more vertical position reducing the usual playing angle. The air flows more free because it opens the throat and focused. My conservatory teacher said that.

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 Re: High Note Trouble
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-06-19 22:07

Kaos wrote:

> Sometimes for high notes it may help to keep the clarinet a
> little closer to your body, move it in more vertical position
> reducing the usual playing angle. The air flows more free
> because it opens the throat and focused.

I agree that a closer angle can help, but I disagree with the reasoning. You need to apply a certain amount of pressure to the reed to produce higher notes (again, BGBG hasn't said how high he runs into trouble). If the clarinet is out and the reed approaches 45 to 90 degrees to the plane of your mouth, most of the pressure you provide is directed perpendicular (or nearly) to the reed and facing. As you bring your clarinet closer to you (more vertical entering your mouth) whatever pressure you and gravity together are providing isn't so perpendicular to the reed. With the angle out more away from you, more of the pressure is applied toward the mouthpiece by your muscles, which are quite strong, and less by gravity. You certainly *can* still bite the reed off against the facing with a closer angle, but with the reed more vertical at least some pressure is provided by the clarinet's weight, and it isn't directed straight into (perpendicular to) the reed. You need less deliberate muscular embouchure pressure so there's less tendency to pinch while enough pressure is still applied to control the reed's vibrations.

All of this goes together with the idea of using a reed of the right stiffness (which a #2 often isn't). The pressure you need to keep the high notes in control and get them to speak reliably and in tune is more than a too soft reed will accept, and it closes. So if the reed is too soft, you can end up choosing between closed up or out of control. The right strength is the one that allows clear tone and articulation in the chalumeau and throat notes and allows you to play reliably and in tune up into the altissimo notes.

You need more air control (though I don't think the *amount* of air is the issue), but if the reed is closed up against the facing, no air is going through no matter what. The reason taking more mouthpiece (or at least more reed) into your mouth can help is that it applies embouchure pressure to a thicker area of the reed where you're less likely to close it, and it gives you a little more vibrating length, which may or may not improve things.

Karl

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 Re: High Note Trouble
Author: Roxann 
Date:   2019-06-20 01:26

My teacher tells me to scrunch my nose with the really high notes because it helps get the back of my tongue into the proper position. Just a simple suggestion and it always works for me. BUT...I also use a stiffer reed than you.

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 Re: High Note Trouble
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2019-06-20 06:15

Someone reminded me I did not say "how high". I would say C5 to C6 range. Also my seldom playing notes that high may be part of he problem...just need more practice. Sometimes I forget how to finger them. Had to look up fingering for an Eb5 the other day for I forgot how to form it. Usually play the lower register and not nearly enough of the higher I believe.
After reading all this I think a stiffer reed and more high note practice is what I need. I also notice I have been playing sitting in a desk chair with arms and found that definitely interferes because of tendency to rest arms on the chair. I do better in a folding chair so arms are free. Easier to support the instrument. Live and learn.

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 Re: High Note Trouble
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-06-20 06:32

BGBG wrote:

> Someone reminded me I did not say "how high". I would say C5 to
> C6 range. Also my seldom playing notes that high may be part of
> he problem...just need more practice.

My students rarely have a problem producing the notes from G5 down to C5 or B4 even with their entry level mouthpieces and #2 reeds. The problems normally begin with A5. And, yes, it does take some kind of systematic or at least regular practice. Every basic method book has pages that introduce the notes "over the break" - usually starting with G5 by playing C4 and then pressing the register key while playing it. Then they have the student move downward - G5-F5-E5-D5-C5 and B4 - and then give several pages of short tunes and exercises to practice both playing and reading those notes.

> Sometimes I forget how to
> finger them. Had to look up fingering for an Eb5 the other day
> for I forgot how to form it. Usually play the lower register
> and not nearly enough of the higher I believe.

My impression is that you play mostly songs, and it may be that you choose the songs to play partly by how high they go, which may be why you don't play over the break often enough even to reliably remember the fingerings.

> After reading all this I think a stiffer reed and more high
> note practice is what I need.

Yes, absolutely. You may be fine with #2.5 instead of the #2 reeds - better not to jump over strengths. The 1/2 strength higher may help with A5 to C6, which do tend to be more difficult at first until you get the feeling of slightly extra firmness you need in your embouchure.

> I also notice I have been playing
> sitting in a desk chair with arms and found that definitely
> interferes because of tendency to rest arms on the chair. I do
> better in a folding chair so arms are free.

Yes!

Karl



Post Edited (2019-06-20 09:52)

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 Re: High Note Trouble
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2019-06-21 02:17

I agree. I play mostly songs I like and are easy to play and seem to avoid the more difficult ones. Usually just sit down and play for 20-30 minutes and never think much about it. Then if difficulty I become upset. But I have been playing on 2.5 and 3 reeds for several years now and though have unused ones the ones I was using were old so I bough 3 #2 reeds when had not played for about 6 months to make it easier. But I plan to try some new #2.5 and #3 just to see.

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