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 Crossing the break
Author: Glynis 
Date:   2019-01-16 13:31

Can anyone help
I am having trouble playing any notes above Bb on my clarinet

I am using a vandoren 5lyre mouthpiece a 2 1/2 size reed

I have been playing for about 10 weeks and getting very frustrated not being able to play higher notes

I’m have tried changing my embochure

Any suggestions appreciated

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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-01-16 17:00

First.....DON'T think of it as a "break."

Also, I would try other notes first besides a "running start" at "B" natural. Try just playing your "C" (thumb and first three fingers of the left hand)......nice long note, good volume, good sound. Then, as you play, open the register key and simultaneously push MORE air through the horn. At some point you should get a "G" to pop out. From there you can try just moving down (placing fingers down of the right hand), or doing the same long note (only next lower note and popping up......."Bb" to "F").

Bottom line is that playing the upper register is just a matter of developing the "feel" of playing up there, which is using a bit more "push" of air. out some help (lessons) from either a local teacher or a better clarinet student at school who is willing to help. It will save you some re-learning down the road to be shown the correct way to do stuff the first time.

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

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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-01-16 17:56

Just for clarity's sake - are you in school and learning in a school band program or are you an adult learner doing this by yourself?

I'm not sure what a 5lyre is - is it a 5RV Lyre? A 2-1/2 should be OK on any of the standard Vandoren mouthpieces, but just to say it up front, a reed that collapses easily (too soft) will make upper register notes harder to produce. How do your lower ("chalumeau") notes sound? Are they clear or breathy? Full or thin?

Paul's suggestion to try starting from low C and pressing the register key to produce G is good. Once you get the G (which is written above the top staff line, called G5) to sound, add a right hand finger, like low Bb, to produce F. As they feel comfortable, add a finger at a time. Obviously, the more fingers, the more places where you may not be covering the holes completely.

When you get down to C and B (fingered like low F and E), reaching for the pinky keys you need can sometimes pull your other fingers slightly off their holes, which is why going cold from A or Bb up to B or C can be difficult. Once you have the feel of all this, you can then try to play the upward intervals from the "throat" notes - A and Bb.

Two things to keep in mind other than your finger positions - keep a steady air flow and keep your embouchure steady and constant. Don't bite harder.


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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2019-01-16 18:58

It would be a good idea to have another more experienced player to try your instrument just to establish that it actually will play upper register notes. It's always possible that there is a problem with the instrument. The fact that it will play OK in the lower register does no necessarily mean that there are no problems with the instrument. The clarinet is quite tolerant of small leaks in the lower register but not so in the upper register.

Tony F.

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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: Steven Ocone 2017
Date:   2019-01-16 21:18

Have the clarinet repaired by someone who plays the instrument. Besides leaking pads, bridge key alignment and ring heights are common issues.

Steven Ocone
Ann & Steve's Music

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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: Glynis 
Date:   2019-01-16 22:21

Thank you for all your replies I have realised that I am not getting my thumb right on the register key and the f my thumb seems too thin

I got my husband to press the register key while I played a c and it was fine
I need to find a way to use my thumb better

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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-01-16 23:01

You should have someone who plays the clarinet look at what you're doing. It isn't likely that your thumb is too thin. It does matter how you place your left thumb, which is something you might find in an image online. The thumb position is to some degree personal - everyone's hands are different - but you don't need to get much of the register key to open it.


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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: Glynis 
Date:   2019-01-17 01:59

Thanks Karl
I did at band practice tonight and I think I have got it
Hooray at last
Thanks all

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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-01-17 04:57

Wow, an adult learner with just 10 weeks under your belt and you're off to band practice!


Sounds like you're hooked..........welcome to the club.

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

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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2019-01-17 06:50

Glad it's working for you now. Some good suggestions above. I will throw in a couple of other ideas.
--keep fingers all very close to holes, even keys. Or--
--try going from throat Bb to B or C while keeping all the R.H. fingers already on the holes/key(s) while playing the Bb first.
--Slur Bb to B or C, cresciendoing on the Bb then letting the high register note pop out. You can use A instead of Bb of course.

The Most Advanced Clarinet Book--Austin Macauley Publishers (PDF samples here)

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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: Glynis 
Date:   2019-01-17 10:47

Hi thanks all for your advice
I am a 70 year old woman and yes I am hooked on my new hobby playing the clarinet
I love it and play in a small band of about 30 very friendly people
My motto
Your never too old for anything if you want it enough

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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: monnarush 
Date:   2019-01-17 12:48

I love your spirit Glynis :) rock on!

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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: Glynis 
Date:   2019-01-17 19:29

Thanks monna

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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: donald 
Date:   2019-01-18 00:21

Good work on finding what is causing the problem.
The trick with the thumb is that every person has a different thumb, but the most useful advice (that seems to work for most people) is...
- make sure your thumb is "flat" on the tone hole. If you hold the clarinet away from you the thumbnail should be looking back at you like an astronaut helmet (sorry, I know you're not 7!)
- the thumb should not be parallel with the clarinet body, nor at a right angle, but about halfway between. I tell kids to imagine the thumb is pointing to 1.30 or 2 on the clock but NOT 12 or can seem like a good idea for the thumb to be parallel to the instrument (12 o'clock) but it causes other problems.
I hope this was helpful

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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-01-18 00:42

You've probably found a thumb position by now that works. The exact angle depends on your hand - it has to account not only for covering the thumb hole and pressing at least the tip of the register key, but also for your wrist alignment so that the other fingers reach their holes comfortably.

At 71 years old I've written a few times here about how my hands aren't as flexible as they were when I was 10 or even 40, and having my left thumb lift off the F/C hole or rotate just enough to leave a sliver of the hole uncovered has become an occasional issue for me, even after 60 years of playing. Once you have the basic idea of what to do, you just have to experiment to find the best fit for your hand.

It's really remarkable that you've gotten enough facility so quickly to play in a band. Congratulations! Have you played other instruments before taking up the clarinet, or are you doing music from scratch?


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 Re: Crossing the break
Author: Glynis 
Date:   2019-01-18 11:35

I had piano lessons as a child so can read music I have dabbled in a little over the years with no success due to time bringing up a family
And runing a house but now I am retired I have the time and inclination to do it properly and I love it
I am the sort of person that I don’t let things beat me if I want to do it
I would encourage anyone to follow what you want to do
Life is so sort we have to experience and enjoy all of it we can or want to
I have lost people in my family far to young
Your never too old
I also really love music of all kinds

Post Edited (2019-01-18 11:53)

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