Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 19 of 19 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
37 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just had to share my excitement at picking up a beautiful Selmer Series 9 clarinet, circa 1961, for Christmas. I found it on eBay with recently updated pads/cork, wood that is in great condition, and a Vandoren M14 mp all for $550. I also have a Borbeck #13 mp that I inherited from my brother many years ago, and I like it a lot.

I've played sax since 1981, but this is the first clarinet I've owned (though I rented one several years ago to learn on). It has been fun getting reacquainted with the instrument. Biggest challenges at this point are:

1. Getting comfortable with the proper clarinet embouchure. I have a copy of "The Art of Clarinet Playing" by Keith Stein. Hopefully Mr. Stein is leading me in the right direction. He seems competent enough.

2. Getting used to "the break" and new fingerings at the lower end

3. Painful thumb! This one even has a foam thumb protector thingy, and it still hurts after awhile.

The answer to all of these, of course, is practice. Hopefully the excitement will last long enough to get me over the initial learning curve!
 

Attachments

· Registered
Joined
·
603 Posts
Congrats on your purchase. Sounds like a great deal. You might consider taking at least a few lessons with a clarinet teacher for embouchure. It's difficult to learn how to form the best embouchure for any individual from a printed description. There are too many variables, and it's extraordinarily easy to form bad habits. A painful thumb might be a positive, as it alerts you to a restricted right hand that needs to be set free. There are some aftermarket thumb rests that help (I've got a Bay on my horn, and besides, I'm tall enough to occasionally rest the bell on my leg while keeping the proper mouthpiece angle), or consider the possibility of installing a thumb rest with a ring so you can use a neck strap. I think those braces that rest on the abdominal region they use on the lower-pitched clarinets might be an option, too. Enjoy!
 

· Distinguished SOTW member
Joined
·
4,666 Posts
.... I have a copy of "The Art of Clarinet Playing" by Keith Stein. Hopefully Mr. Stein is leading me in the right direction. He seems competent enough....
Stein describes the forward jaw position as "like a bulldog", that can give you a good idea on how the differentiate the saxophone and clarinet embouchures.

I find this video explains the chin position well:

http://www.ricoreeds.com/RicoMediaDetail.Page?MediaId=482
 

· Registered
Joined
·
299 Posts
I also would like to add and agree that a few lessons to get a face to face idea of the proper Clarinet embouchure would help so much.
One thing I did was use the Top Tones for Sax on my Clarinet as well for embouchure and tonal consistency training. It's nothing fancy but helped me quite a bit. Keep us informed on how the Clarinet does for you in the long run! I know I'm ready to hear some mp3 clips.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian
Joined
·
7,147 Posts
Painful thumb? The answer may not just be practicing on a painful thumb.
I had this problem. Try a neckstrap or some more advanced thumb cushions.
Also check for good right hand position and avoid tension - it can kill.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2012
Joined
·
4,258 Posts
Welcome to the blackstick AND S9 club. I recently bought a S9 myself, also a '61 by the way, after decades of Buffet BC20. Wanted that sound with more character. I'm struggling a bit with intonation, a well known challenge with those not so young horns. But it is worth the effort.
I remember having a sore thumb as I was beginning (I was 12 by then...). Just keep practicing, and your thumb will grow to it. Try to avoid the neckstrap way, which will just become another obstacle to your freedom.
As you play both alto and tenor sax: I think of the clarinet as in Eb in the low register (more or less lower alto sax range) and Bb in the high register (like soprano sax). This helps when reading music. You have to work quite a bit, nevertheless, to overcome the break.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
37 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the good advice everyone! I do think I'm going to find a good local teacher for a few lessons to get off on the right foot.

Any other suggestions are welcome.

Russ
 

· Registered
Joined
·
603 Posts
I can't agree with playing through a sore thumb. The least you can get is a thick callus (sp?), and I've seen too many older players with the last joint of their right thumb bent permanently to the left, AND experiencing enough pain to look for alternatives to giving up the horn. Besides that, the downward pressure on the thumb restricts finger action. I guess I've gotten to the age where I don't want to put up with discomforts and indignities. I use a clarinet stand even when I'm using only one horn, I look for the most comfortable chair, and if I'm unlucky enough to be stuck in front of the trumpet section, I mark my part to remember when to put in the ear plugs.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2012
Joined
·
4,258 Posts
Speaking of last joint: I put the thumb rest exactly onto the articulation. The front joint doesn't take any weight, it is all spread on the palm muscles.
lomaserena, I'm sorry to read your post: considering the conditions you describe, I can only agree with you. Maybe I was lucky so far...
 

· Distinguished SOTW member
Joined
·
4,666 Posts
Speaking of last joint: I put the thumb rest exactly onto the articulation. The front joint doesn't take any weight, it is all spread on the palm muscles...
That's right, that's where it should be. It puts less strain on the tendon that way.
Most of my clarinet students' thumb pain goes away after a while.
Unless you suffer from extreme pain, I wouldn't recommend a neck strap. It throws the instrument out of balance.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2012
Joined
·
4,258 Posts
.....I wouldn't recommend a neck strap. It throws the instrument out of balance....
... and it prevents you from the unorthodox but so ... jazzy Artie/Benny/Claude Luter playing position.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
14,671 Posts
Congrats on the clarinet. I never took clarinet lessons but had the good fortune of knowing Claude Lakey and visiting with him at his shop/home many times when he lived in Arleta, CA (a San Fernando Valley suburb). Claude gave me more than mouthpieces (oh, I bought them from him); he gave me good advice to help me with "the break." He had me run continuos chromatic passages beginning at open G below the break and ending at E above the break, then back again . . . over and over. DAVE
 

· Distinguished SOTW member
Joined
·
4,666 Posts
A challenging way to negotiate the break is to play Charlie Parker tunes on clarinet, the lines almost always cross it. "Confirmation" is great for that.
Get into the habit right away of closing the right hand keys on throat tones (G to Bb) whenever you're ascending to the clarion register and keeping them closed when descending from the clarion to the throat tones. It makes for a smoother transition.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
860 Posts
Welcome to the world of clarinet. Not to be confused with a black soprano.
I feel we have something in common, I just bought a 1959 Center Tone, and Love it.

We differ in that I have been exposed to the clarinet for about 15 years. Owning 2 others. I also too a year of private lessons on clarinet in college.

Here is some suggestions based on that experieince,

1. Learn enough clarinet to make you happy.
2. Pain in your hands means your too tence, do whatever it take to be happy playing the clarinet, neck straps, thunb pad, thinner reeds, play music you like. Whatever it takes, you want to enjoy the clarinet, so find ways to make it more pleasureable. If this makes you have a bad tone, your tone will get better over time. If you stop playing the clarinet because you don't enojoy it, your tone will never get better. Focus on the problem at hand.
3. Take lessons, the legit way to play a clarinet is very different then the legit way for sax. Learn that way, so you can sit in with community bands. The mouthpice is very high in the mouth, very vertical, you tounge with the tip of your tounge like your taping something.
4. Once you figure out how to play clarinet the legit way, just like sax start changing it to make it louder and versitle to the style you want to play. This doesn't mean skip number 3.

Number 1 is the most important one, figure out why you wanted to play clarinet and do that well. Don't use clarinet as a distraction form sax if that is your focus. If you wanted to double, figure that out. If you wanted to play legit music in orchestra or community band, figure that out. If you wanted to improve on clarinet, it's gonna be a while. It's not exactly a black soprano. And yes, the bridge is hard. Work on it like you did for the palm keys on sax.
 

· Über Geek, Forum Contributor 2010 Distinguished SO
Joined
·
3,814 Posts
I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all solution for the sore thumb problem. Hand anatomy varies, and if you're one of those lucky folks with really flexible joints (especially thumbs that bend backwards), you might have to experiment a bit to find a comfortable playing position. Tom Ridenour makes a rubber thumb saddle that might help--it goes over a standard thumbrest and gets your hand in a more natural playing position, and for $12 or so it's a pretty risk-free place to start.

Big hands with skinny fingers run in my family, and after dealing with a really nasty bout of tendonitis a couple years ago I realized I had to get more serious about taking care of my hands. I'm not a big fan of playing clarinet with a strap, but it helps enough (especially when I'm having to 'shed a lot on my A clarinet) that I finally gave in. HOWEVER, you should start by looking for other ways to eliminate tension first--the instrument demands a lot of precision, and it's not unusual for people who are starting out to use a death grip on it. Practicing scales in front of a mirror (try getting a small one and putting it on a music stand) can help you spot problems. And remember to work on everything SLOWLY until it feels natural.

Finally, I second daigle65's suggestion about bop tunes--they're great technical exercises for clarinet, and they're fun. But wait until you can get around the instrument a bit, first... even experience players are known to curse Parker when they're shedding Donna Lee (I know I do). The bridge on Four Brothers is another favorite.... :Rant:
 

· Registered
Joined
·
37 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Wow, you're all very helpful and I appreciate the great tips! It's fun to hear from those who have been there. I am determined to keep it fun so that I stick with it.

I've got plenty of material for alto sax (methods, etc.) but I'm wondering: should I grab some clarinet-specific books for practicing, or just use my sax books?

Russ
 

· Registered
Joined
·
142 Posts
Welcome to the S9 club. My '65 Full Boehm S9 is a fab instrument.

You probably should get some dedicated clarinet books as sax books won't work you as hard over the break as you ought to work. Also, you'll need to practise those notes below the written range of the sax.

I found the Keith Stein book to be quite helpful, although his writing style is sometimes a little turgid. I very warmly recommend Jack Brymer's "The Clarinet" if you want to immerse yourself in the subject - by a looong way the most interesting book written about this fascinating instrument.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top