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 Practicing with reed strength 2, playing with 3
Author: September 
Date:   2019-01-17 01:51

Hello,

I'm trying to fix some long-established bad embouchure habits (keeping my chin down, essentially). I usually play the #3 reed, but notice that playing the lower chalumeau register in the piano, it's notably breathy in sound. Googling suggests that it's becaues the reed is too strong for my embouchure, and that I should play a softer one. Our reportoire, however, demands I play up to C6, and common lore says that #2 does not sound as good, and certainly not in the upper clarion register.

Is itt a bad idea to practice embouchure/chalumeau parts with the #2 reed at home, and playing #3 for the higher parts/in practice with the rest of the band?

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 Re: Practicing with reed strength 2, playing with 3
Author: fernie121 
Date:   2019-01-17 02:54

If the lower register is airy but the upper register sounds alright, you might just not be taking in enough reed into your mouth. Once you have the proper amount of mouthpiece and reed in your mouth, playing becomes less about your embouchure strength/technique and more about your tongue position and air speed. People who don’t take in enough mouthpiece and reed find themselves needing softer setups than normal.

Bb Clarinet: Ridenour G1, Mouthpiece: Vandoren BD5 (Modified), Reed: Legere EC 3 3/4, Ligature: Rovner Versa

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 Re: Practicing with reed strength 2, playing with 3
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-01-17 03:36

September wrote:

> Hello,
>
> I'm trying to fix some long-established bad embouchure habits
> (keeping my chin down, essentially). I usually play the #3
> reed, but notice that playing the lower chalumeau register in
> the piano, it's notably breathy in sound.

Breathy sound can be caused by a few different things. You don't mention what mouthpiece you're using. Is it in good condition - in particular are the rails blemish- and damage-free?

A small air leak in the upper section somewhere could cause breathiness in the low register but not interfere as much with the second register because you already have an open hole (the register vent).

You may not, as already suggested, be taking the best amount of reed into your mouth.

>
> Is itt a bad idea to practice embouchure/chalumeau parts with
> the #2 reed at home, and playing #3 for the higher parts/in
> practice with the rest of the band?

It would be better to find out for certain why your lower register is breathy-sounding. I wouldn't be enthusiastic about your using two different strength reeds. It shouldn't be necessary. Next best thing would be, if the solution to the breathiness is a #2 reed, to learn to play the higher notes on the same #2 reed. In my opinion if your mouthpiece really needs a #2, it should be capable of being played with the softer reed all the way up.

Karl

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 Re: Practicing with reed strength 2, playing with 3
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-01-17 05:05

Yeah, I agree with Karl. Instead of "shoulds," I'd just see what the #2 sounds like to you on the upper clarion register.


Also, finding the ideal amount of mouthpiece to take in is simple. Just play a continuous open "G" and take in more and more mouthpiece until you get a horrifying, uncontrollable SQUAWK. Just back off from that spot, and there is your balance point for your embouchure on that mouthpiece. Of course one can ALWAYS take in less mouthpiece, but then what you are doing is damping the reed at a point before in wants to stop vibrating. That "works," but it's not ideal.




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



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 Re: Practicing with reed strength 2, playing with 3
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2019-01-17 10:25

Along with Paul's experiment, I'd also experiment with the angle of the clarinet in relation to your head (which should be erect at all times, IMO). The quality of your sound will change as the clarinet is moved "up" and "down" through an arc, the pivot point being the mouthpiece in your mouth.

Moving the clarinet slowly up and down through an arc generally will reveal a position where the tone and control will be better because that position will yield the best "cushion" of the lower lip against the reed; not too "hard," not to "soft," not too "skinny" and not too "flabby."

B.

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 Re: Practicing with reed strength 2, playing with 3
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-01-19 09:51

Playing low notes and long tones and using a mirror is often the best way to fix embouchure problems. A lot of pros and students with nice sounds warm up everyday doing these. Maybe 15 minutes a day. In a year you will be amazed how well you've come along.

Google Lee Morgan who explains the position of where your throat position should be and the sound you should make. Cool guy. Underrated because he lived in Denmark I believe, but don't underrate his playing.


NEWLY DESIGNED - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist




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 Re: Practicing with reed strength 2, playing with 3
Author: September 
Date:   2019-01-19 23:56

Thank you all for the comments and advice.

I tried taking more mouthpiece, but didn't notice much difference in sound (it was more difficult to keep the chin down, though!). Changing the angle helped a bit; I've been holding it on at a quite wide angle, and lowering it helped the tone quality some.

I've experimented with reeds (#2, #3, #3,5), two different ligatures, and with swapping my mouthpiece (Vandoren M15) with an old RV5 Lyre. The "breathiness" persisted in both of them, though changing the ligature helped a bit. Playing lighter reeds really did help the breathiness - it didn't disappear completely, but it was a lot less audible.

My articulation is far better with the lighter reeds, and they effortlessly play up to C6 at least. With the heavier reeds, blowing takes so much effort that I fall back to the old embouchure habits I'm trying to train myself out of whenever I get to technically challenging parts. With that in mind, I think I'll stick to the lighter reeds until I'm positive that my embouchure has improved, since I simply play better that way. I'm in an amateur ensemble with a quite large clarinet section; even if my tone quality won't be perfect, it'll hopefully not be too notisable among the eight others *g* I'll definitely keep practicing my embouchure, and try getting used to taking more of the mouthpiece.



Post Edited (2019-01-19 23:58)

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