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 How is my progress?
Author: JasonR 
Date:   2021-04-17 06:41

I've been working on Aaron Copland's Clarinet Concerto for a few weeks, how is my progress going so far? The recording covers pages 1-4.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Clarinet/comments/msi3kj/aaron_copland_clarinet_concerto_pages_14/

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2021-04-17 19:43

Do you have a teacher?
Is this for an audition?
Is this for a performance?
Is this just for to learn the piece?

We can help better if we know what your target is.

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2021-04-17 21:53

I think you're doing very well. My ear isn't very good, make sure you're working with a tuner. Your high notes are coming along very well.

In a few places you flubbed up notes you shouldn't have, played a neighboring note first and then switched. IDK if this was an attention or nerves problem. Make sure that does not happen in a performance. If you are playing adagio (or whatever it's marked) and long notes, you should nail all the fingerings. If you keep doing that on the same ones, stop. If keep doing it you are practicing how to do it wrong. Play a few notes before to a few notes after with your eyes shut and get it perfect. That way you won't miss it in performance.

Play the slow part in performance time, it's slower. It should feel like you are falling asleep on a cloud. Also, IDK how you are thinking about the phrasing, but you need to bring that out more. Think of swells, or fall offs, or whatever works. There should be a beginning and end to each phrase, and it should be related to the other phrases, just like a good speech or conversation. Watch an opera singer performing a slow aria. For a visual image, watch a good orchestral director direct an adagio, but not one where they're trying to quiet everyone down. You want one where they're bringing all the expression out. It's very challenging, but you have a good tone to do it. IMO that's the hardest sort of playing, period.

I think your throat Bb or A was stuffy (?). That might be the horn. Your register tube might need cleared. Otherwise try the side trill key alternate fingering.

For the fast part, you are playing the rhythms and phrasing well. You can improve a bit by getting the style a little better, but it's pretty good. Try listening to a recording, or watching a movie from the 1920s or 1930s. It was written in in the late '40s, but the syncopation is partly based on the popular music of the earlier period. "Anything Goes" comes to mind. Here's a good one https://youtu.be/ZCaZCin3bRs Listen to the orchestra score.

Also, don't neglect the lower registers while you are working on the high parts.

Altogether though I think you are doing very well.

Make sure you watch this: https://youtu.be/i1za5qebqqo
And this, watch Bernstein: https://youtu.be/yTutmD40R9k (The sound quality is really bad.)

I like Stoltzman:https://youtu.be/KuT-3UPLf0k (I just about passed out when the lights came up. I had no idea. Wow.)

- Matthew Simington


Post Edited (2021-04-17 22:06)

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2021-04-17 23:07

Excellent advice from Matt. And fantastic links! (Thanks!)

To expand on what Matt said about each phrase having a beginning and an ending: consider the link between music and spoken language. Languages have lots of different consonant and vowel sounds. We need to start and end notes with these varied sounds. At the moment it sounds like most of your phrases start with the sound "T" or "P". Think how you might be able to start (or end) phrases with sounds like "a", "m", "f, "ng", "l" or "w", for example. And how would you produce those sounds technically?

Sing the phrases to yourself. Take note of your own personal "scat singing" and try to copy that on your clarinet.

I presume you have a teacher? Investing in a good teacher is invaluable.

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: JasonR 
Date:   2021-04-18 00:20

I do have a teacher, I've been playing for around 5 and a half years. I'm learning the piece for a competition in around September. I just wanted to get some outside opinions on my progress.

The thing about the A around the middle of the piece, it got some liquid in the hole and was obstructing it a little, it pretty commonly happens.

I've been working on it for a few weeks, but I definitely need to work on having more air in the beginning and phrasing overall.

This is also my favorite rendition of Copland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GnJBLwOjFo (Martin Frost)

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2021-04-18 01:50

Hi Jason,

Last month you wrote about the improvement of using a Behn Sono.

In this Reddit video, are you using the Behn Sono? I am absolutely in no position to critique your playing, it just seemed to me that you were working rather hard.

Were you using a different mpc for this review?



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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: gwie 
Date:   2021-04-18 05:14

The comment accompanying his video on reddit indicates he was playing on a Backun Vocalise R with a D'Addario Classic Reserve 4.0 reed.

For me, the biggest issue is that while your individual notes sound fine in the middle, the movement between notes, the transitions from one note to another, especially when slurred, are not clean or smooth.

You're gasping for breath at the ends of phrases, and from what I can hear on the recording, your tone becomes increasingly unfocused and fuzzy. That seems to be a symptom of too much resistance in your setup, per Dan's comment above.

At 1:51 for the high F#, the note comes out really flat. Vent it using the RH fork key.

It's a wonderful work, and a lot of work as well. Bonne chance!

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: JasonR 
Date:   2021-04-18 06:59

I think you may be thinking of someone else, the only other equipment I own from before this upgrade was my e11 with the stock mouthpiece.

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2021-04-18 07:42

Jason, you're right! I made a mistake. It took me a while before I finally figured out what I did wrong in my BB search. Sorry about that!

Getting back on topic...why such a hard reed? Even though Backun's specs for this mpc is 2.5-4.5, have you tried using a 3.5?


Just a thought...



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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: JasonR 
Date:   2021-04-18 11:37

I had been playing on a 3.5 for a while, but I did some reed experiments a couple months back and I found out that I liked the tone and richness of a 4.0 better than a 3.5. I feel like it has a much deeper sound, especially when compared tp the seemingly high pitch of the 3.5 now that I've gotten used to the sound.

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2021-04-18 21:46

Jason, I understand your predicament. However, I believe there is an easy solution available.

I would like to suggest that you send your mpc to a truly professional mpc refacer that you trust. It should be rather easy for this person to slightly flatten the facing arc curve and reduce the resistance for you.

You might want to give Brad Behn a call. There are others, however, Brad has quite a reputation on this BB for his very high level of craftsmanship. (IMO)

Or, you could send him an email. Brad has a new email address: bradbehn@gmail.com.


In my attempt to be fair to all of the other refacers out there, here's a list that I made up that you might want to consider: http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=461271&t=461271


Good luck and please keep us informed.



Post Edited (2021-04-18 23:10)

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2021-04-19 04:50

You have good potential. You may become an outstanding tonguer.....I did a critique on Reddit while listening, so won't repeat it here. Good luck.

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tomheimer.ampbk.com/ Amazon, Sheet Music Plus
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Boreal Ballad for unaccompanied clarinet--Sheet Music Plus
(902)-225-3276

Post Edited (2021-04-19 04:51)

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: JasonR 
Date:   2021-04-19 08:14

I don't know much about mouthpiece refacing, what exactly is it and it it necessary? I only got the mouthpiece a couple months back, I don't know if I want to spend a bunch of money refacing the mouthpiece while I'm saving up for a new barrel (MoBa Cocobolo). I also don't want to be out of a mouthpiece for a while, my only other mouthpiece is the stock one that comes with the E11 and I have a couple recordings coming up. I could try some 3.5s, I have some leftover from a box.

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2021-04-19 10:27

I would suggest experimenting with reeds and continuing to work on your fundamental technique before sending off your mouthpiece for refacing. It is already made by a "truly professional mpc refacer": Richard Hawkins. Without actually trying your mouthpiece, I can't see how anyone can tell you that it needs refacing.

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2021-04-19 20:40

Liquorice,

For the record, Richard Hawkins does not make the Vocalise R. Backun does. If he did, his name would be on it. As far as I know, he was asked for his input as a consultant.

I did not tell Jason that his mpc needs refacing. I suggested it as a possible solution.

Also, I don't believe that all mouthpieces that are totally machined are exactly identical. How often I have read on this BB that a player should try out several and then pick the best one.

And, lastly, Liquorice, please allow me the opportunity to apologize to you directly for the harsh words I wrote against you. I have no authority to police what people say to others. That's the purpose of the moderator.

Peace.



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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2021-04-19 22:14

No need to apologise to me Dan. Peace to you to.

Looking at this video, I can see "HAWKINS BACKUN" printed on the mouthpieces.

https://backunmusical.com/products/vocalise-clarinet-mouthpiece?variant=21284424056917

In the video Hawkins claims that this is "the best mouthpiece ever made", so I guess he feels confident enough to have his name stamped on it.

I agree that all mouthpieces that are machined are not exactly identical. But I can say the same about hand-finished mouthpieces. 2 mouthpieces by even the very best craftsmen in the world don't play exactly the same.

I must say Dan, that I found your advice to get the facing changed rather weird, especially seeing that you haven't tried the mouthpiece. Given that this is already a rather "high-end" mouthpiece developed by a top mouthpiece maker, I don't get the logic of sending it to another top mouthpiece maker to change the facing.



Post Edited (2021-04-19 22:33)

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2021-04-19 23:18

My fault...I didn't look at the mouthpiece close enough. I just went by what gwie said above.

With all due respect, I don't look upon a machine made, $127 mpc as a rather high-end mouthpiece. To me, high-end means boutique. I've read where Walter Grabner play tests his mouthpieces for up to an hour before he's satisfied. Does Backun or Hawkins play test each mouthpiece to make sure of its quality performance? I think not.

As to slightly changing the curve to reduce resistance, that really is not weird but rather common.

Because Backun lists the "R" model as close/short, I can only imagine that the facing length is around 30 to 32, as 34 is pretty much accepted as being medium.

So, perhaps, just lengthening the facing to a medium 34 could possibly make a world of difference to Jason.

Clark Fobes CWF is at a 34.5 facing. Now, I've read where he did this slightly longer facing to bring down the resistance due to making the baffle deeper.

So, slightly lengthening the facing is a real possibility to me.

p.s. As to flattening the curve to reduce resistance, it was Brad Behn who not only told me about this but also gave me a Brand number that a certain gauge should read to help flatten the curve.



Post Edited (2021-04-19 23:25)

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2021-04-19 23:52

Perhaps we should keep in mind that this young man is just 5.5 years into his clarinet learning. Is this the time for Jason to be considering refacing his mouthpiece?

This is a somewhat innocent question that could be taken to a new thread if we wished to explore it: when in a student's career is it appropriate for them to start considering (what seems to me to be) more advanced equipment tweaks, such as refacing mouthpieces?

To the OP, Jason: you gotten some excellent ideas in this thread for you to consider. You've taken on a really ambitious piece and are going to learn a ton from it as you work through it. I'm looking forward to the time when I've learned enough to tackle it, too. You've given me something great to look forward to. :)

I have the Vocalise R, too, and really like it.

Beth

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: JasonR 
Date:   2021-04-19 23:59

Thanks for all the kind comments in the thread, I'll keep you posted on further progress in the piece as I work on it!

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2021-04-20 00:22

Beth, you stated that you play the same Vocalise "R" mpc. Would you mind telling us what strength reed you use?

Thanks.

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2021-04-20 00:29

Hi, Dan!

I currently play on a 3.5 Vandoren blue box and waffle between a 3.25 and 3.5 Legere Signature. (I'm planning on getting a 3.5 European Cut to try next.)

Beth

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2021-04-20 00:37

Dan I play the Vocalise G (the R G H are Richard G Hawkins). I use a 3.5 reed on it.
Disclaimer I am a Backun artist.

Peter Cigleris

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2021-04-20 00:39

Dan- In my experience with mouthpiece makers, I can confidently say that they all have their own very personal concept of how a mouthpiece should be set up. This involves the interplay between several elements including facing, bore, chamber, tip rail, side rails and table.

Richard Hawkins refers to "the best mouthpiece ever made". If he is just saying this for marketing then he risks losing all credibility as a mouthpiece craftsman. It seems more likely to me that he believes in the quality of these mouthpieces enough to put his name on them. And I would also assume that he believes the facing to be the correct one for this model. I don't believe that "just lengthening the facing" would necessarily improve the mouthpiece.

Of course, a top mouthpiece craftsman like Brad Behn would understand this. He could lengthen the facing and make other necessary changes. But he would then essentially be changing the mouthpiece into something else. He would need to know what Jason wanted differently out of the mouthpiece, and I'm not sure if Jason really knows that himself yet.

None of us know what Jason's mouthpiece plays like. The best person to be advising Jason on whether he needs a different mouthpiece would be his teacher.

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2021-04-20 01:47

Hi cigleris, it's good to hear from you! Have you ever tried a #4 reed strength?

Beth, thank you for revealing your reed strengths. Much appreciated! May I ask how many years you've been playing? If it's more than Jason, could you handle a #4 reed strength?

Liquorice, I Googled "Richard Hawkins" + "the best mouthpiece ever made" and came up with nothing. Then I Googled "the best mouthpiece ever made" and came up with numerous sax mouthpieces (Berg Larsen, Otto Link, etc.,) and one trumpet mpc. If it is possible, could you find again where Richard says this? Thanks.

Now, onto "the best mouthpiece ever made". If this really is true, then everybody else might as well close up shop rather than continue selling their inferior mouthpieces. Sorry, but it sure sounds like ad hype to me. And, I agree with you when you said that Richard Hawkins reputation is on the line.

As far as I know, slightly increasing the facing length can only do 2 things: 1) reduce overall resistance and 2) increase the quality of the sound in the Chalumeau range.



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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2021-04-20 01:57

I've been playing a little over two years, and am happy with my reed strength at present. My teacher is also happy with my reed strength. Thanks, though.

What is so magical about a 4 reed strength?

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2021-04-20 02:18

Beth, the O.P., Jason, prefers the sound of the #4 over a #3.5.

So there's nothing magical about a #4. It's just a personal, subjective, tone preference to Jason.

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2021-04-20 09:29

Dan: Hawkins makes this claim about the Vocalise series in the video on the link that I posted further up.

"The best mouthpieces ever made for students and professionals alike."

Of course it's ad hype. But my point is that Hawkins must really believe in this product if he's prepared to go on record making a claim like this.

If you think through the logic of what you just wrote about changing facing length, then do you think I should immediately send all my mouthpieces off for refacing in order to increase the quality of sound in the chalumeau range?

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2021-04-20 11:03

Liquorice, when I couldn't find that quote via Google searches, I began to think about videos. I just looked at that particular response wherein you mentioned the video. My bad...

Now concerning Hawkins statement, I guess this is the end of the road for him. After all, once you've made the best, how can you make anything better? He can't...because for him that would, unfortunately, be impossible. So, it appears reasonable that for him these mouthpieces might be his "swan song". That is sad to hear. (I'm kidding, of course! Yes, I agree it's ad hype. However, IMHO, he really has painted himself into a corner and it will be interesting to see how he gets himself out of it!)

As to your mouthpieces, it all depends. If you're satisfied with the quality of the sound emanating from the chalumeau, then no, leave them alone. However, if some are not, then I would first suggest trying reeds with a thicker blank as they tend to produce a warmer and darker sound. https://www.dawkes.co.uk/sound-room/reed-all-about-it-part-2-of-3-the-clarinet-ricodaddario-stable/ (Go all the way down to The Thick Blank Grand Concert Select reeds.) When I used to play decades ago, it was easy for me to hear how the quality of the overall clarinet tone improved dramatically by simply going to a slightly harder reed. This, of course, will increase the resistance of the mpc setup but I sense that your mature embouchure would be able to handle it. Increasing the mpc facing length should only be considered as a last resort when the reed strength and thickness gives you the chalumeau tone you desire but you're working too hard to produce it.

p.s. I know this a game and I'm willing to play along...that is until the moderator tells us to "quit it!"



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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2021-04-20 11:35

Dan, I'm not playing games. I guess I have to spell it out: I think that your idea that simply lengthening the facing of Jason's mouthpiece will solve any problems for him is an over-simplification of mouthpiece design. I also think that it is a mis-diagnosis and in that sense actually constitutes bad advice.

I don't want to play games with you, so I'll just leave it at that.

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2021-04-20 19:41

Liquorice, wow! I sense an awful lot of anger towards me! If you weren't playing games with me, then why the gotcha, runaround question concerning all of your mouthpieces?

"I guess I have to spell it out:" Oh boy, here we go again...a classic put-down statement.

If you felt convinced that my suggestion constituted bad advice from the beginning, then why didn't you just say so from the start?

I believe that you have really bought into Richard Hawkin's misleading ad statement that he has created, or at least helped create, the perfect mouthpiece. To me, that's equivalent to a shoe designer saying that he or she has created the perfect shoe for everyone. That, of course, is nonsense due to everyone having different sized feet. As to mouthpieces, not all embouchures are identical and the tonal coloring simply cannot be a total winner with everyone. Did you notice that Beth and cigleris both play on 3.5 strength reeds? Why don't they play on a 4 or a 4.5? I believe that a 3.5 presents them with a comfortable resistance level coupled with a tonal color that they like.

Was my advice bad? Hmm...so far, you're the only one who is convinced of that. I just heard from a well known refacer who told me that he has done this for customers.

Meanwhile, JasonR, the O.P., will continue to suffer with a mouthpiece set up that, IMHO, is simply too resistant for him.



Post Edited (2021-04-20 19:51)

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: brycon 
Date:   2021-04-20 19:58

Quote:

Was my advice bad? Hmm...so far, you're the only one who is convinced of that. I just heard from a well known refacer who told me that he has done this for customers.


It was terrible advice.

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2021-04-20 20:21

brycon, thank you for your input.

I do know that extending the facing too much can cause the upper altissimo to suffer. There is a trade off and I understand that.

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2021-04-20 20:24

Don't you think it's time to gracefully bow out of this conversation?

For the record, I tried to gently tell you yesterday that I thought this advice was misguided. It seemed totally out of left field, especially given the player's level of experience. And then after the OP thanked the board for its advice you still couldn't seem to let it go. (Suggesting to me and Pete that we try #4 reeds?!)

The problem wasn't that you made a suggestion to the OP, but that it was a mismatch with his question and his level of experience.

Time for my clarinet lesson now -- I get to slog through Rose #2! Whee!

Best --
Beth

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-04-20 20:41

Dan Shusta wrote:


> Now concerning Hawkins statement ["The best mouthpieces ever made for students and professionals alike."], I guess this is the end of
> the road for him. After all, once you've made the best, how can
> you make anything better? He can't...because for him that
> would, unfortunately, be impossible.

Dan, it doesn't follow that the best ever made can't be improved. Then, the improvement will be the best ever made until it is itself superseded.

Karl

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-04-20 20:44

Dan Shusta wrote:

> I believe that you have really bought into Richard Hawkin's
> misleading ad statement that he has created, or at least helped
> create, the perfect mouthpiece.

And, again, "best ever" is not equivalent to "perfect." I'm not sure why you've latched onto this, but you've distorted it past the breaking point.

Karl

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2021-04-20 20:52

Beth, for the record, I never suggested to you or Pete to try a #4 reed. I know that because I just reread that post.

That being said, I appreciate the kindness of your first sentence in your last posting.

Even though I have reread your earlier posting, nowhere could I interpret that my advice was "misguided and totally out of left field".

Even so, perhaps it is time for me to end my comments.


kdk, what I wrote about Richard Hawkins was "tongue in cheek" because right afterward, I wrote: "I'm kidding...of course!".

I guess it's time for me to simply say "Good bye". It's been an eventful 20 years, I've learned a lot, however, with my stage 3 dementia, again, perhaps it's simply time for me to leave. It is much clearer to me now that my mental impairment is a detriment to everyone.

I sincerely wish this BB my best!



Post Edited (2021-04-20 21:53)

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2021-04-23 00:18

Dan, I did try some 4s on the Vocalise G and indeed the R and H. While they worked, for me personally there wasn’t enough flexibility in the reed so you lost some of the vibrancy that a 3.5 or 3.5+ allowed.

Peter Cigleris

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2021-04-23 17:28

Hi, Dan,

I owe you an apology. I was rushing to get ready for my lesson and didn't reread the previous posts or think carefully about what you had written before dashing off my reply.

As it turns out, I completely misinterpreted why you were asking about those pesky #4 reeds. I'm sorry.

Best,
Beth

(P.S. I've got bigger issues than reed strength: my stupid fingers won't move smoothly from throat A to left-hand clarion C. Rose #2 is going to be the death of me. And let's not speak of the altissimo notes toward the end of the piece. The struggle is real.)

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 Re: How is my progress?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-04-23 18:02

BethGraham wrote:

> (P.S. I've got bigger issues than reed strength: my stupid
> fingers won't move smoothly from throat A to left-hand clarion
> C. Rose #2 is going to be the death of me.

Before you continue to beat yourself up over this, consider that it may be an ergonomic issue. The key may not be at a good height for you )or, maybe, anyone else) to leave smoothly, the spring tension may be slowing your finger action or making you press too hard, making the movement off the key sluggish. The ring on either the thumb or the LH index finger could be too low or too high, which can interfere with smooth movement.

And then, since you're talking about LH C4, there are possible problems with the position of that key, its travel and its spring tension.

What's actually happening when you move from A to C? And (BTW) which Rose #2 features [A4] to LH [C5] so prominently?

Karl



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