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Hi all,

I'm a senior in high school and I've been playing sax since sixth grade. I'm a good sax player (probably doing Glazunov for S&E this year), and I got my hands on a clarinet a couple years ago. It's a Buffet E11, in very good shape. I've played it a fair amount (doubling on it for "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," and taking some lessons), but there are still a few things I just can't fix.

1) My fingers still don't seal well. I'm trying to use the pads of my fingers, but it just isn't going well. The ring fingers can be a particular source of squeaking agony. This is probably partially caused by:

2) I seem to tense up a lot when I play clarinet. Hands, forearms; sometimes even my neck, from the increased air pressure that the clarinet requires. I always feel like I need to be pushing down to seal the holes (see number 1).

How can I relax and still manage to cover all the holes? Because of these problems, it's hard for me to jump from the throat tones (g, a, b-flat) to the bridge range (middle b, c, etc).

One more question: I'm currently playing on a Vandoren M13 Lyre, with Vandoren V12 reeds (3/3.5 strength). Any suggestions for a more sax-friendly setup, if there is such a thing?

Thanks--

PJ
 

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band geek: Straighten and extend your fingers more and move them up and down from the hands, holding your fingers flat and perpendicular to the tube, rather than curling them and using the finger tips at an angle to close the tone holes. That finger position may allow more of your finger pad to cover the tone holes rather than just the tip of your fingers, thus creating more of a seal without requiring a deliberate, precise touch.

Not sure about your mouthpiece/reed set-up. We all can make mouthpiece suggestions until they overload the site, but they would be only mildly interesting. No one can (or should) make mouthpiece recommendations to some one else, even though many will do it. DAVE
 

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Is it a Selmer or a BUFFET E11?

First get the clarinet checked out. If you have to 'gorrilla grip' it, it's leaky and/or needs to be adjusted. Good shape doesn't always mean it's properly adjusted and leak free.

Instead of the V12s' try Vandoren classic in a 3 or Mitchel Lurie in a 3 or 3.5. You'll find that they are a little more 'sax player friendly'.
The mouthpice is one of the better offerings by Vandoren.
 

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Rather than use the pads of your fingers to seal the holes, use the part of your fingers between the pads and tips. It's a more natural hand position. Problems with your ring fingers probably has to do with how you're using your little fingers. Reaching for the pinky keys tends to draw ring fingers off their tone holes. Clarinets are not as forgiving as sax of poor adjustment, especially in the upper register, so get the horn looked over by a tech. Going over the break (throat tones to upper register) is just hard. Putting your RH fingers down before going over will help-less fingers to coordinate. I haven't found a mouthpiece that makes going from sax to clarinet significantly easier. Your setup sounds OK. As mentioned, you might want to experiment with reeds.
 

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I had the same problem when I started expanding into the clarinet as a second instrument (I also doubled on a Semer Signet). Practice certainly helped, especially crossing back and forth over the break to establish consistency. As I got older, I was able to afford a good Buffet clarinet and that also helped.
 

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I used to have the same problem covering the tone holes when going from sax to clarinet. My Selmer Centered Tone is the only clarinet I have played that makes it easy to double on. I think it's the tone hole size and placement and since I can get a good seal, I relax more, which makes my fingers more fluid. I don't know if all C.T.'s are the same but you may want to check out other clarinets that are more "band geek friendly". What works for one geek may not work for another.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Did I type "Selmer E11?" ....I did. Fixed that.

I suppose I'll play around with my hand positioning. And I'll take the instrument to my lesson on Saturday to have my teacher check it out.

Thanks, everyone!
 

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you should probably have it looked at. i can imagine that transitioning from sax to clarinet, you would need to adjust quite a bit. it could be problems with the instrument, but maybe you arent quite used to playing it yet? see if you can get anyone who plays clarinet to play on it. If they can get a decent sound out, you probably just need to take it to the shop to get fixed up and such
 

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Also make sure you're not inadvertantly hitting (and slightly opening) the sliver keys LH Bb/Eb and RH F#/B. You can easily check for this by taping closed those two keys. If you have an easier time of it with those two keys closed off then that might be at least part of your problem.
 
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