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 books or tutorials on learning klezmer
Author: jacky chambers 
Date:   2010-09-04 07:09

hi I play Bb clarinet with a small amateur klezmer group here in England - and can play classical clarinet .sight read etc reasonably well .So playing the "straight "klezmer tunes and high notes is fine technically for me - but i really want to play the ornamentation - krekhts, bending notes etc so it sounds more like klezmer ! . I have tried travelling 200 miles [ yeah! ] to have 2 hours with a klezmer teacher who was recommended but failed to get a single krekht !
I have been left feeling rather bereft of where to go/what to do next - and I think a book would help me understand the use of tongue on reed etc to get these effects I know everyone says listen and mimic a lot but if you cant get your emboucher working the right way [ and I was told using your jaw isnt correct ] then you can spend many hours frustrated as well as breathless !
so can anyone recommend a good book - the only one I have found is 24$ + post by tom pulaski - but there are no reviews - so any help /experience of using that book or any others would be really good
Jacky



Post Edited (2010-09-04 07:15)

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 Re: books or tutorials on learning klezmer
Author: vintschevski 
Date:   2010-09-04 14:59

Hi, Jacky!

I have that book by Tom Puwalski. He's a fantastic clarinettist, but I didn't find the book to be useful, and I think it is very unlikely that it would help you achieve what you want. The same sort of information is available on various internet sites.

I'm sure that if Tom were to re-write the book, he would now add lots to it, as he certainly has the knowledge to produce a great book on the subject. I wouldn't, however, recommend it in its current form.

BUT I haven't got any other suggestions except to say that there is a video by Andy Statman about playing Klezmer clarinet: "Learn to play Klezmer - Improvising in the Tradition". One would think that this would be very useful, but I have not bought it and have never watched it, so I have no idea what it's like. There are a couple of customer reviews of it on the Amazon site.

Good luck!



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 Re: books or tutorials on learning klezmer
Author: jacky chambers 
Date:   2010-09-08 08:34

thanks very much Vintschevski
- really helpful
Guess that's the last word - I will try to get hold of the video by Andy Statman
/cheers
Jacky

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 Re: books or tutorials on learning klezmer
Author: vintschevski 
Date:   2010-09-09 14:20

Hi again, Jacky!

Well, I don't know about the "last word", I'm sure that somebody else will offer some suggestions.

But could you perhaps tell us some more about your lesson with the teacher? One would think that this would certainly be the most productive way of learning to play a krekhts. How come it didn't succeed for you? Did you gain any insight at all into how to do it? Or maybe some insight into other aspects of Klezmer ornamentation or playing generally?

I'd be interested to hear your comments on this experience.

V.



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 Re: books or tutorials on learning klezmer
Author: jacky chambers 
Date:   2010-09-23 10:47

Ok - well I only had 2 hours, a classical vandoren mouthpiece and had developed a bad biting habit when trying to get the really high notes - so lots more to do to retrain my embouchere /use of tongue after many years of not playing !
I learnt a lot from the lesson - about what was involved technically vis getting a krekht harmonic from tongueing /stopping the reed and using the tongue not the jaw to get the bending effect - but i didnt succeed in producing either a krekht or a laughing note - mostly I learnt more about the "light "klezmer style , rhythm, intonation and the need to listen and copy others which I am now trying to do ! I havent given up - going to go to a woodwind shop and see if a more open mouthpiece helps .....
thanks for getting back to me

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 Re: books or tutorials on learning- a post script on lessons klezmer
Author: jacky chambers 
Date:   2010-09-23 21:02

hi again vintschevski !

I would really like to know what you think - how much of klezmer playing depends on having a strong but loose embouchere and a reasonably open mouthpiece - its really difficult for someone like me who is at work all day to keep up regular practice more than 3 X a week - I love the music - I am learning to improvise against recordings but the ornamentation has got me beat just now . Should I try another lesson - and if so when and for how long ??
Jacky

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 Re: books or tutorials on learning- a post script on lessons klezmer
Author: vintschevski 
Date:   2010-09-25 03:43

I wish I were a brilliant, experienced Klezmer clarinettist who knew what he was talking about, so that advice from me would be worth listening to.

Alas, that is not the case. The honest answer to any of your questions is: I don't know.

Except that I will say that I wouldn't, in any case, be dogmatic about how Klezmer should be played in general, or how specifically a Klezmer clarinettist should play the instrument. It's YOU doing it so do what YOU want to do, use the embouchure, the mouthpiece, the reeds that YOU want to use to produce the sound that YOU want.

OR if you aren't satisfied with the sound that you're producing and you KNOW what sound you definitely want to produce, by all means try out whatever you can to get there, BUT on the way be content with how you are playing. And that would be my humble piece of advice - to enjoy what you can do NOW while working on getting somewhere else if you really want to.

The above no doubt sounds obvious and not actually useful, but you clearly feel frustration, which I can relate to, but at least you have an ensemble on the go and that's super! And you're listening hard to stuff and working on what you hear, and that can't fail to help immensely. Persevere, you'll be fine, it may take a little while.

By the way, what is the name of your ensemble? Have you got any gigs coming up?



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 Re: books or tutorials on learning- a post script on lessons klezmer
Author: jacky chambers 
Date:   2010-09-26 21:04

hi vintschevski

Thankyou so much- even if you are not a brilliant klezmer clarinettist you are certainly a very wise musician! I have taken your advice and am starting again to enjoy and improve upon what I can do - our next amateur ensemble is next month so I am listening hard [ thanks to i tunes lists ] to various klezmer CDs of the tunes we normally play . But I will go on trying to get "somewhere else" beyond ornamentation - and there are some klezmer workshops coming to Birmingham in november - so who knows what I might learn there ?
.
Jacky

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 Re: books or tutorials on learning- a post script on lessons klezmer
Author: tommy d 
Date:   2010-10-05 19:16

Hi Jacky
I'm a classically taught clarinet player who has taken up klezmer later.
I found softer reeds helped, even if some tone is lost. Much easier to bend the notes. Also almost all the klezmer stuff is played an octave above the written music. I find the notes don't bend easily below middle C and really work best around G up.
There are some good players around Manchester. Regular klezmer dances in Chorlton and Kleznorth was a great meeting of likeminded folks in Derbyshire. Dates for KlezNorth 2011 in Youlgreave are April 1st - 3rd!
hope this helps!
Tom

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 Re: books or tutorials on learning klezmer
Author: beavertoof 
Date:   2010-10-07 17:49

I would like to suggest that you just listen to klezmer recordings, and slowly try to work some of the more 'klezmery' sound into what you sound like now by osmosis as opposed to study of a klezmer technique.

I have heard some classical trained clarinet players play klezmer that I thought sounded wonderful... yes different from a trad klez player but wonderful nonetheless.

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 Re: books or tutorials on learning klezmer
Author: Andrew Gardiner 
Date:   2010-10-24 09:04

One book I find useful is Mazltov! by Joel Rubin, which has introductory pages inlcuding a little bit on technique. Also the tunes included are written with ornaments notated as a learning exercise.

"New Directions for Clarinet" has masses of avant garde techniques and if I remember right inlcudes a bit on throat articulation etc.

Krekhts and bend notes/laughing sounds etc are much easier to do with the clarinet and someone showing you. There is some stuff on You Tube, but I found the tone of the demonstrator quite unpleasant on the clip I listened to.

I think maybe also people do them slightly differently depending on the shape of their face, type of set up etc. I also think good players do not overuse these effects as much as you sometimes hear.

If you close your mouth and make the sounds of an air raid siren or mimic a dog whining plaintively (!), for me at least this creates the same throat effect used in note bending and laughing. Put the mouthpiece in your mouth and do the same, prob easiest playing C (two lines above staff) and descending to G (one space above staff) initially. Good luck!

Andrew Gardiner

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 Re: books or tutorials on learning klezmer
Author: BenInBb 
Date:   2011-08-20 18:40

No book is going to be able to teach you klezmer. It's not a matter of moving your tongue this way or that, really, though that is what happens. It's a matter of getting the sound and emotion which will naturally come to any clarinetist or other musician who understands klezmer.

What you need is not a book but recordings. I recommend Rhythm & Jews and other early Klezmatics recordings, the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, and The Klezmer Conservatoire Band. Perlman Plays Klezmer, by Itzhak Perlman, features some great bands (including some named above), and also his great playing in a surprisingly adept klezmer style.

Good luck!

Ben Parker


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 Re: books or tutorials on learning klezmer
Author: dennis 
Date:   2012-07-13 05:05

I just came across your post and have had exactly the same experience and frustration. I love the music and want to play with all the embellishments and krekhts and it escapes me. I've tried lessons from a master klezmer clarinetist who plays wonderfully well with everything we would ever want to be able to do, and he flat out tells me, "I can't teach how to do that." If that isn't futility and frustration I don't know.

So, my question really is, "Have you gotten anywhere since your post, and if so, how?"



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 Re: books or tutorials on learning klezmer
Author: JonTheReeds 
Date:   2015-08-13 15:15

I have been playing in a small group over the summer and we have played a bit of Klezmer. Just wondering if anyone has any tips?

Listening to Klezmer and trying to copy it is a given, but any other advice or recommended books would be most appreciated

--------------------------------------
Music is 95% preparation, the other half is performance

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 Re: books or tutorials on learning klezmer
Author: Tom Puwalski 
Date:   2016-09-26 06:17

It's not very useful? did you do any of the activities that I described in that book. That book was a really accurate description of how I and many of the really good practitioners of Klezmer learned how to play that style of music. There are no short cuts, it's not about, "I can't do a schmear so I can't play klezmer". It's about listening to some of the early practitioners and trying to "emulate" their playing as closely as possible. I will say this, you can't learn it without a ton of listening and a bunch of trying to play it and in my opinion recording and listening to yourself.

Tom Puwalski, author "The Clarinetist's Guide to Klezmer" and the play along "Klezmer Boot Camp"

Reply To Message
 
 Re: books or tutorials on learning klezmer
Author: Tom Puwalski 
Date:   2016-09-26 06:28

It's not very useful? did you do any of the activities that I described in that book. That book was a really accurate description of how I and many of the really good practitioners of Klezmer learned how to play that style of music. There are no short cuts, it's not about, "I can't do a schmear so I can't play klezmer". It's about listening to some of the early practitioners and trying to "emulate" their playing as closely as possible. I will say this, you can't learn it without a ton of listening and a bunch of trying to play it and in my opinion recording and listening to yourself.

Tom Puwalski, author "The Clarinetist's Guide to Klezmer" and the play along "Klezmer Boot Camp"

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