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 Midwest Clinic / Chicago
Author: Ralph Katz 
Date:   2019-01-05 18:41

The Midwest Clinic International Band, Orchestra and Music Conference at McCormack Place in Chicago a couple of weeks ago was a great opportunity to play on a lot of clarinets. My wife was an attendee, and I was registered as her spouse.

I found was a lot of great alternatives, especially in the $1500-$2500 price range. Almost everything I tried, at any price point, worked at some level, but they all needed adjustments and some appeared to need complete overhauls. Yes they are demo horns, but the were also all brand-new.

Having my 25-year-old Buffet R13 on-hand for comparison was of great help. It was setup and maintained during its first decade by Brannon Woodwinds, and by Meridian Winds in Okemos, MI since.

I developed a routine of what to play on each instrument, and then swapped my mouthpiece back to the R13 for comparison. My instrument compared very favorably, but should not be considered as being best at anything in particular. But, its setup makes it respond better than just about everything I tried.

This was also an opportunity to ask all the manufactureres why they didn't offer an optional low D on their Alto Clarinets, so they could be used to cover Basset Horn parts. Only Yamaha and one other maker (who only had a prototype alto clarinet at the event) showed any interest in this possibility.

Midwest is a difficult environment for play-testing - the display floor got louder every day. After the first day, you had to get creative to hear anything. And my retiree hearing is not that good.

I should have taken notes (gak).

It will be held again December 18-21, 2019.

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Ralph Katz 2019-01-05 18:41 

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