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 Pinky Tuscadero
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-03-04 07:41

Remember her? Fonzie's "main squeeze" from the 1970's TV show Happy Days?

No? No problem. It's just the best cutesy title I could find for a pinky dilemma I'm having.

@@@@@@@

Notes like full fingered D# and C#, particularly C# played with the left pinky can be issues for me to voice.

"Take in more mouthpiece, relax the throat, make the embouchure squeeze from all sides, curved your fingers so that they don't cause the clarinet to rotate from left to right and mess up the embouchure."

These thoughts are part of my inner monologue as I approach etudes like the ones in Kroepsch II I was playing today in keys with lots of accidentals.

Here's the thing. If I finger a full fingered C# with the left pinky while fingering the full fingered D# with my right pinky I'ii voice, no surprise, the D#.

Then, if I take my right pinky off, reliably, there's my C#.

But if I leave me left pinky off and finger the D#, then swapping pinkies to make the C#, depending on my reed (softer ones are more likely to be problematic here), there is a better chance that I'll squeak.

Slowing down the action: if my left pinky tends to come down microseconds before the right is fully released I'm good too.

On a good reed: not a problem. Faster tempo: more likely a problem. Lowest register: never a problem.

I do not think its my gear. Both joints get "good seal." I think it's me.

What I'd like to know is what's happening here, and why do these problems seem more indicative of full fingered notes?

Thanks for your time and expertise. I do NOT think this a problem of the clarinet rocking. Once and for all I'd like to put this problem to bed.

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 Re: Pinky Tuscadero
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-03-04 12:43

SecondTry wrote:

> Notes like full fingered D# and C#, particularly C# played with
> the left pinky can be issues for me to voice.
>
> Here's the thing. If I finger a full fingered C# with the left
> pinky while fingering the full fingered D# with my right pinky
> I'ii voice, no surprise, the D#.
>
> Then, if I take my right pinky off, reliably, there's my C#.
>
> But if I leave me left pinky off and finger the D#, then
> swapping pinkies to make the C#, depending on my reed (softer
> ones are more likely to be problematic here), there is a better
> chance that I'll squeak.
>

I think you're talking about C#5 (3rd space from the bottom of a treble staff)?

> Slowing down the action: if my left pinky tends to come down microseconds
> before the right is fully released I'm good too.


Though you start out saying that LH C# is causing a problem, it seems to develop that it's actually moving from D# to C# that's the real issue (you don't say what happens when you play D5 - C#5 without the RH D# being involved at all). If that's the case, a far more likely culprit than "voicing" is just bad coordination between the pinkies, such that when LH pinky is late, it's close enough to covering that it interferes with the response (causing a squeak).

It could of course be that one of your fingers - probably either the ring finger or the index finger of your LH - is moving slightly off its hole when you press the LH C# lever to change notes because of unwanted extra movement in your left hand as you press the C# key.

Karl

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Pinky Tuscadero
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-03-04 20:28

Thanks for your time and thoughts Karl.

> I think you're talking about C#5 (3rd space from the bottom of a treble staff)?

Yes sir I am. C#5 [C#5] . I should have used the "notes" capability provided by the forum in my OP, sorry. I thought referring to the note as a "full fingered C#" might have been adequate, but in reflection that terminology is of my own authorship, not common clarinet parlance.


> Though you start out saying that LH C# is causing a problem, it seems to
> develop that it's actually moving from D# to C# that's the real issue

I should have been clearer. It is more accurate to say that arriving at C#5 from several notes slightly higher in the scale, not just merely D#5, can manifest my voicing problem with C#5. One such note, as the "original note" before moving to C#5, can also be D5--just as you refer to.

> a far more likely culprit than "voicing" is just bad coordination between the
> pinkies, such that when LH pinky is late, it's close enough to covering that it
> interferes with the response (causing a squeak).

Understood. Thanks. That would make sense. Maybe I incur similar problem moving from say, D5 to C#5 (played with the left pink) because, as you reference, my left pinky lags relative to my other left hand fingers. As a test of this, I can tell you that my problems are less likely to manifest when playing C#5 with the right pinky---further evidence Karl that your theories about that
lagging left pinky may be spot on. Sigh: old age.

> It could of course be that one of your fingers - probably either the ring finger
> or the index finger of your LH - is moving slightly off its hole when you press
> the LH C# lever to change notes because of unwanted extra movement in
> your left hand as you press the C# key.

That is a perfectly logical theory Karl for you to articulate, but one I've ruled out. That left ring finger, fearing the very thing you describe immediately above, is all but "crazy glued" to the clarinet in my effort to overcompensate for this tendency. In fact that's what I thought it was too, never considering the pinky timing you raise, precisely because a right pinky played C#5, where the left ring finger is not motivated to move off its hole, is an easier note for me to play.

Again, thank you for breaking this down with me. It would also explain why this issue is less likely to manifest at slower tempos where pinky coordination is less of a challenge.  :)

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 Re: Pinky Tuscadero
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-03-04 20:31

And then I'd be curious to know what full the sequence of notes that are involved in the problem. Personally I do a bunch of slides from the RH D# down to the RH C# under certain circumstances as well as slides off the LH B down to the LH C# (spelling also Eb and Db of course). Using those in conjunction with more typical RH slides DOWN from C# to C or the reverse will get me out of most situations.



I assume you are right handed. The RH C# is usually easier for that reason AND the simple fact that it is directly on the key in question.



One other thought is that the spring on the C# key may be a little too stiff (not uncommon). This is an easy fix......preferably if you're comfortable taking off all those keys and putting them back on. If you loosen the spring too much, that's what you will have to do to re-spring the key if it is adjusted too loose.





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



Post Edited (2021-03-04 20:45)

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Pinky Tuscadero
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-03-04 22:43
Attachment:  excerp2.jpg (59k)

> And then I'd be curious to know what full the sequence of notes that are
> involved in the problem.

Hi Paul. Attached is a classic example. It's the 2nd to last 8 note progression on line two from exercise 271 of Kroepsch II in G# minor, where everything is sharp but B and E.

And yeah, in these key signatures, with a 1960's R13 absent of a left pinky Ab/Eb lever, key signatures like these are chuck full of necessary right pinky slides as you referece, as well as chromatic fingerings.

I'll try this passage with a pinky slide, solely for diagnostic purposes, and see what happens. Doing so would guarantee the D#5 hole to be closed before the C#5 hole opens.

I am right handed as you inquired. I'll also look into, later down the line in the diagnostic rubric, mechanical things like springs being cause here--my ability to fix my clarinet pretty strong for otherwise not being at the skill level of a good repairperson.

Thanks.



Post Edited (2021-03-04 22:50)

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Pinky Tuscadero
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2021-03-05 00:38

Hi Second Try. A lagging left pinky isn't going to cause a squeak when moving from D to C#, it will just cause C# to be late.

You said you're satisfied that the ring finger doesn't move off the hole when the mishap occurs. Check your other left hand fingers, particularly the index finger. If your hand is rotating or otherwise moving, that can also slide a little bit off its hole. It's happened to me before.

Ideally the left hand remains in pretty much the same position at all times, though in practice some little changes tend to creep in. You might watch yourself in a mirror and see if that offers any clues when the mishap occurs.

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Pinky Tuscadero
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-03-05 00:43

SecondTry wrote:

> That is a perfectly logical theory Karl for you to articulate,
> but one I've ruled out. That left ring finger, fearing the
> very thing you describe immediately above, is all but "crazy
> glued" to the clarinet in my effort to overcompensate for this
> tendency.

You're probably right that you've paid enough attention to rule out a leaky LH ring or index finger, but sometimes you can overdo the effort and still, through tension, cause the finger to slip slightly off the hole in normal playing. And, at age 70+ with a certain level of wrist arthritis in both of my hands, zeroing in on either ring finger can pull my index fingers down, opening the top of either 1st hole. It isn't so much a matter of "crazy gluing" the finger down as it is being aware of - deliberately sensing - the entire circumference of both holes, and also (again, for me) finding a hand position and finger shape from which I can cover the holes without having the stretch between index and ring fingers (of either hand) become an issue or a constant mental distraction, if that makes sense. Just pressing to keep a finger from allowing air to escape can tense the finger up and actually change its position. I suggested it because, if the C#/Db key is set back far enough around the side of the clarinet, you may have to stretch your hand just a little more than you can comfortably reach, causing your hand to move. It's a possibility you have to be aware of, at least, whenever a problem comes up involving LH C and C# and (for me) RH B.

Karl

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Pinky Tuscadero
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-03-05 01:38

> Hi Second Try. A lagging left pinky isn't going to cause a squeak when moving > from D to C#, it will just cause C# to be late.

Hi Phillip. Thank you for your thoughts and time. You know, the problem I describe rarely manifests itself on more resistant reeds: so maybe I am closing off the reed in ways that manifests itself more on notes I'm having issue with.

I'm of the belief that clarinet is hard enough that playing on reeds that are too strong for me isn't the solution. I'm kind of a of a Vandoren 3 kinda guy in strength, and that's on a relatively closed Vandoren M15 mouthpiece. One of my favorite quotes if from Mark Nuccio, who promotes playing on the softest reed that doesn't interfere with your artistry. Making it up to C6 is impossible, even if sometimes I have to snug a bit more mouthpiece to do so.

Speaking of mouthpieces I've tried more open facing ones with some success addressing this issue, but like stronger reeds, I don't want to work harder to make my sound, particularly because I like to play double lip when a significant amount of rest time (to recover) occurs in ensemble work, as opposed to etudes and solos practiced on my own time, which are single lip played.

I should have added up front, but wrongly forgot to, that assuming a double lip embouchure temporarily can help alleviate these issues...and yet, I really don't think I am biting. Perhaps I can take in more mouthpiece and that might address this, but I am already taking in the most I can (and I can take in more without squeaking if I remember to grab the mouthpiece on all sides) without squeaking or tonal compromise.

> You said you're satisfied that the ring finger doesn't move off the hole when
> the mishap occurs. Check your other left hand fingers, particularly the index
> finger. If your hand is rotating or otherwise moving, that can also slide a little
> bit off its hole. It's happened to me before.

I'm so glad you brought this up because it reminds me to include a detail I didn't initially. I can 100% guarantee you (and this anecdote may help you help me) that hole coverage is not at issue. I say this because if I pause, not moving a muscle in my hands, (including keeping the clarinet motionless in my mouth) and rearticulate a note that just squeaked, it voices without issue. Maybe my embouchure is subtly failing such that such brief rests I describe here are the difference between success and failure on producing some notes.

> Ideally the left hand remains in pretty much the same position at all times,
> though in practice some little changes tend to creep in. You might watch
> yourself in a mirror and see if that offers any clues when the mishap occurs.

I've tried and had family (albeit not clarinet players) watch.

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Pinky Tuscadero
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-03-05 01:44

> It isn't so much a matter of "crazy gluing" the finger down as it is being aware > of - deliberately sensing - the entire circumference of both holes, and also
> (again, for me) finding a hand position and finger shape from which I can cover
> the holes without having the stretch between index and ring fingers (of either
> hand) become an issue or a constant mental distraction, if that makes sense.

Thanks Karl: it very much does. My frustration here is that I'm the guy others come to to correct such things. I can play the passage at 60 bps, and then at 65 bps, fail at it.

So then I play it upping the metronome one click at a time and make it no problem to 65 bps. Maybe I need my head examined--as maybe this is a mental thing. I should have family through more an undisclosed meter and see how I do! lol


My R13 is very much set up regulation. I'll bet it's me, not the horn.

Thanks :)

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 Re: Pinky Tuscadero
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2021-03-05 01:51

Your problem as described, unless I missed something, is specific to one note fingered one way. Embouchure or reed issues would almost certainly be more general in effect. I say almost because anything is possible, but those do not sound like probable causes. Squeaks on single notes are usually either from a leaking clarinet or a fingering error.

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 Re: Pinky Tuscadero
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-03-05 02:09

SecondTry wrote:

> I should have added up front, but wrongly forgot to, that
> assuming a double lip embouchure temporarily can help alleviate
> these issues...and yet, I really don't think I am biting.

Oddly enough (perhaps) it was a squeaking issue back in my 20s that led me to experiment with double lip in the first place and eventually to switch entirely. But my squeaks weren't happening within legato, only on the "attack" of the initial note of a passage, whether the passage was legato or staccato.

It doesn't just stop (or at least discourage) biting. It subtly reshapes the inside of your mouth, which I found made those squeaks of long ago disappear more or less instantaneously.

> Perhaps I can take in more mouthpiece and that might address
> this, but I am already taking in the most I can (and I can take
> in more without squeaking if I remember to grab the mouthpiece
> on all sides) without squeaking or tonal compromise.
>
Grabbing the mouthpiece on all sides is part of the benefit of double lip - and it's the part you can also emulate with single lip. Many players use DL as a model to set up their SL embouchures.

If it helps...

Karl

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 Re: Pinky Tuscadero
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-03-05 05:03

I'm kinda fond of mechanical solutions for problems like this.......but the only other suggestion I have would be to make sure the "C" cup is sealing completely. Do the suctiona and positive pressure test for the joint and if that's fine, use some form of "feeler guage" to check the four cardinal directions of the "C" pad to be sure it is all hitting at the same time. There may be a tendency on your part to compensate with a bit more force when pushing the "C" key, but you probably would not do this with the left for the "C#."




Just a guess.






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



Reply To Message
 
 Re: Pinky Tuscadero
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2021-03-08 02:10

If there is a leak it may not be causing the squeak directly, but you may be doing something to compensate, like tensing up, or bumping a banana key, that does cause a squeak.

I agree with Paul about mechanical. You would be amazed how easy it is to create a leak. All you have to do is flex a key a little (or for your regulation cork to compress a few thousandths of an inch, or your pads to compress, or get wet...). I’m surprised anyone can play their horn. Basically, if you have a clarinet - it’s leaking. Here’s another way to check:

Start on D (***|***) and go down chromatically alternating with D. Like D-C#-D-C-D-B. Use only your right hand. Play it slurred, and use only VERY light pressure with your pinky. If you have to use firm pressure with your pinky to get any note there is a leak.

Now try the same using your left hand, using only very light pressure. If it only fails to respond with the left hand there is a regulation issue that causes a leak, or you missed the leak when trying the right...

- Matthew Simington


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