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 Help with the High Notes
Author: Irwin 
Date:   1999-08-07 15:54

Good news is that I just got promoted to playing 2nd part in my woodwind orchestra. Bad news is that my first piece is Danse Bacchanale which seems to be nothing but 16th notes well above the staff (E 3 lines above the staff, D just below it, and sharps and flats of all notes in and around them).

My technique is fine up to a C. Above that I'm squeeking when I first hit the note, although I can settle into it after a moment. Problem is playing the high ones as 16th notes. I went to a slightly firmer reed, and this has helped. Also, I'm cheating a bit by hitting the note with a blast from the diaphram as opposed to tounging it as the music calls for.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Meantime, I'm spending all weekend working on this piece so that I don't utterly embarrass myself on Monday. thanks.

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 RE: Help with the High Notes
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-08-07 17:48

When you get into the altissimo it is absolutely essential to make sure that the jaw is not moving when you tongue. It is very common for people to unknowingly move the jaw a little when they move the tongue. In the chalumeau and clarion ranges, it is often possible to get away with slight jaw motions but once you hit the clarion you will find squeaking problems, difficulty starting the notes, etc.

To check this out try this little exercise:

1. Use the note open G so you can hold the clarinet with one hand.
2. Start tongueing the open G as fast sixteenth notes.
3. While tongueing, feel under and around your jaw. I bet you'll find a surprising degree of motion.


To start curing the problem (if this is what it is):

1. Again use the note open G.
2. Place your hand at the spot on your jaw where you found the most motion.
3. Concentrate on moving the tongue only and very slowly tongue. Once you can do this slowly, increase the tempo slightly.
4. Use this as a warm up exercise each day and as you get more stable, keep increasing the temp.

Let us know what you find.

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 RE: Help with the High Notes - OOPS!
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-08-07 17:51

... but once you hit the altissimo you will find squeaking problems, difficulty starting the notes, etc.


Can't type today. Meant altissimo in this sentence.



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 RE: Help with the High Notes - OOPS!
Author: Irwin 
Date:   1999-08-07 18:58

Thanks Dee, I'll give it a try and let you know.

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 RE: Help with the High Notes
Author: Daniel 
Date:   1999-08-08 02:45

A book i have found usefull for high notes, especially the extreme altissimo, is Norman Heim's "Developement of the Altissimo Register". It covers fingerings and has may exercises for all notes one at a time from C# all the way to "Super C" (6 spaces above the staff).
It's also a good book for players who are already advanced to that register.

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 RE: Help with the High Notes
Author: Irwin 
Date:   1999-08-08 04:09

Dee, I don't think my jaw is moving. Instead, the problem is when I tounge. If I hit the note with a blast from my diaphragm, then it doesn't squeek. I also noticed that depending on how hold the horn, pointed more down than out, it seems to help.

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 RE: Help with the High Notes
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-08-08 11:54



Irwin wrote:
-------------------------------
Dee, I don't think my jaw is moving. Instead, the problem is when I tounge. If I hit the note with a blast from my diaphragm, then it doesn't squeek. I also noticed that depending on how hold the horn, pointed more down than out, it seems to help.

-------------------------------

OK, I have some more info on tonguing that I will post when I get back from my business trip Tuesday night.

By the way what is the angle you have been using? The clarinet should be not too far out from the body.

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 RE: Help with the High Notes -More
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-08-08 11:55

Just wanted to clarify that a clarinet actually is *supposed* to be held pointing much more down than out.

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 RE: Help with the High Notes -More
Author: Irwin 
Date:   1999-08-08 14:18

Maybe that's been my problem. When I started back playing after a 25+ year absence, I was resting the bell on my knee because my thumb was hurting. Even though I've since been using a neck strap, I think I got into a bad habit of leaving the horn at roughly that angle away from my body (and because I'm 6', my knees are significantly away from my body). When I bring the horn closer to my stomach, i.e., pointed more downward, this seems to help with playing altissimo.

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 RE: Help with the High Notes
Author: mike 
Date:   1999-08-10 01:37

one thing that seemed to help me was the oboe...tightened up embrouchment real good, could have actually helped me learn to keep the mouth jaw steady...been along time ago... good luck


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 The Three Register Drill
Author: paul 
Date:   1999-08-10 15:01

Dee's points are always very good. So are the others above. However, I've found that hitting the altissimo notes is a learned skill, based on getting the chalemeau and clarion registers right the first time.

Again, Dee hit it right on the head by saying to not move your jaw at all. So, here is how the three register drill works. Believe me, it does work. The only kicker is that you don't move your jaw at all. Not one little bit. Just add air support and a stronger grip of the embouchure as needed to kick the reed into the higher intervals.

Let's try a simple drill, then you will get the pattern.

Chalemeau Bb, clarion F, altissimo D (using the Eb/Ab as a "whisper key"). Start by blowing a good mf chalemeau Bb, gradually open the register key for clarion F, then slowly roll down the left first finger and slowly press the whisper key for altissimo D. Slur slowly on the way up. Catch your breath, then slowly try to slur from altissmo D on down. The up steps are easy, but the down steps are a real challenge.

Ditto the drill for chalemeau A, clarion E, altissimo C#.

Ditto for chalemeau C, clarion G, altissimo E.

You see the pattern repeat for all the notes you can find in this drill for all three registers. The trick is to not blast anything, don't change any jaw position, just add air. Try not to tighten too much on the embouchure, either. Remember, for this drill, a squeak is okay. It's just telling you that you kicked the reed into overdrive for way up on the partials. Try again and try not to squeak.

Good luck.


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