Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 27 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
142 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My Son is asking if he can play clarinet. I've told him that it cannot take away practice time, and he's OK with that, so his motivation seems good.

I worry that this could distract him or teach him bad habits with his saxophone skills. I'm not saying that because I've heard it can cause problems because I don't know.

I've asked his private instructor as well, but I thought I'd get a much feedback as possible. His private instructor hasn't gotten back to me yet, I just sent him an e-mail a few days ago.

Thanks in advance!

Kevin
 

·
Forum Contributor 2010-2016
Joined
·
1,706 Posts
In my view the skills are complementary and the earlier one takes up clarinet the better.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
3,000 Posts
I actually think that playing the clarinet improves my saxophone playing -- especially in the air department. Plus, it's a fun diversion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
299 Posts
I agree with both the guys above. Starting clarinet in high school is a great idea...flute wouldn't hurt down the road either, if he is interested....

You can get great deals on used clarinets and flutes as well....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,675 Posts
It's a good idea but make sure he gets lessons from a real clarinet player. If the basics are not studied when he starts playing clarinet, bad habits will prevent progress. Clarinet is not blown like a saxophone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,622 Posts
There is no way clarinet will cause problems. It may improve things. Anything one can do to learn and improve musical skills is a plus.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
350 Posts
I agree to everything that has been said. Clarinet, in my opinion, should improve his sax playing if anything. He should learn from an actually clarinet player though, at least to get him started on a good embouchure.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member.
Joined
·
2,090 Posts
Historically (pre -1960's) most saxophone players started on clarinet, which was an almost required double for sax players who wanted to work. Now as to the practice: even though the Sax and Clarinet can be complimentary, they very different in many respects and he will be required to spend time with it if he ever expects to play it at a reasonable level. Having started with clarinet myself, I think the benefits are worth the effort.
 

·
Über Geek, Forum Contributor 2010 Distinguished SO
Joined
·
3,841 Posts
My husband and I are friends with a very talented family; Dad plays trombone and taught music at the high school and college level, and Mom taught high school dance. Both their sons are musicians, and the younger (who I've known since he was in high school) played woodwinds. He told me once that his dad's only real rule for him on practicing was that he had to put in 15 minutes on flute and 15 on clarinet every day--he had no particular minimum on sax. Anyhow, this young cat (now 23 or so, and a freelance pro here in L.A.) has clarinet chops adequate for any big band doubling he's likely to run into, and I've played shows where he was on the flute book and sounded very good. He's also one of the most freakishly-talented jazz tenor players I've EVER met, so his dad's insistence that he learn to double didn't slow him down a bit.

So... I'd recommend that you encourage adding clarinet--DON'T tell your son it's hard!!--and after he gets the basics under control (and I second the good advice to get him a few lessons with a real clarinet player), just have him work on the same things on clarinet that he is on sax. As long as he keeps both horns in some sort of rotation, he should be able to improve on both almost as fast as on one.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW member/, Official SOTW Sister
Joined
·
19,204 Posts
Clarinet will only be a benifit to his sax playing.
I'm the Mommy of 3 young musicians. All are proficient on at least 2 instruments.
All started 'doubling' in middle school! The oldest, in 8th grade was playing clarinet and oboe in regular band and tenor sax in jazz band. Then went on to add bari sax for HS jazz band, and bass drum while in Air Force BMT.
Get the kid a couple of lessons to make sure the embouchure is 'correct' and let things go from there.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2010-2016
Joined
·
1,706 Posts
What IS going on with this thread? All of this agreement is doing my head in. Aren't you reading this Grumps?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
142 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
What IS going on with this thread? All of this agreement is doing my head in. Aren't you reading this Grumps?
LOL! I was thinking the same thing. It might be because I've asked the question in an area where I might not get the most objective answers. Kind of like going to a Ford Mustang forum and asking if I should buy a Mustang.

Not that all of the answers are not good, I hardly think its as simple as everyone is stating. For example, the embouchures are in fact different. It's entirely possible that this could have a negative effect on his sax playing. Maybe slows his growth for a time period because it's affecting his muscle memory. I guess that would be my number one concern. Everyone makes good points, but my concern is that it cannot slow his grow as a saxophonist. I'm feeling better that this will not happen because nobody has even provide anecdotal information that this happens.

My final concern is that it will in fact affect his practice time. My Daughter has just started doubling on the alto (she plays clarinet) and this so far has not been a good experience for her. She likes playing the sax, but her ability to practice now has gone down the toilet. Practicing two instruments has made her feel like its this mountain of work, even though I reduced her clarinet time. I think she feels this way because her confidence has taken a hit because now she's back to playing long tones and such to fine tune her intonation and I think she thought she was over that. Intonation on sax is more difficult. She acts like its the mouthpiece insertion point. She keeps pushing it in, and then out. I'm like, "Your instrument is now in tune, now it's up to you"

My Son is much more accomplished so I'm not worried about that as much. My point is that it's certainly not a simple as everyone is making it out to be. I've already witnessed it with a younger musician that there are drawbacks.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW member/, Official SOTW Sister
Joined
·
19,204 Posts
LOL! I was thinking the same thing. It might be because I've asked the question in an area where I might not get the most objective answers. Kind of like going to a Ford Mustang forum and asking if I should buy a Mustang.

Not that all of the answers are not good, I hardly think its as simple as everyone is stating. For example, the embouchures are in fact different. It's entirely possible that this could have a negative effect on his sax playing. Maybe slows his growth for a time period because it's affecting his muscle memory. I guess that would be my number one concern. Everyone makes good points, but my concern is that it cannot slow his grow as a saxophonist. I'm feeling better that this will not happen because nobody has even provide anecdotal information that this happens.

My final concern is that it will in fact affect his practice time. My Daughter has just started doubling on the alto (she plays clarinet) and this so far has not been a good experience for her. She likes playing the sax, but her ability to practice now has gone down the toilet. Practicing two instruments has made her feel like its this mountain of work, even though I reduced her clarinet time. I think she feels this way because her confidence has taken a hit because now she's back to playing long tones and such to fine tune her intonation and I think she thought she was over that. Intonation on sax is more difficult. She acts like its the mouthpiece insertion point. She keeps pushing it in, and then out. I'm like, "Your instrument is now in tune, now it's up to you"

My Son is much more accomplished so I'm not worried about that as much. My point is that it's certainly not a simple as everyone is making it out to be. I've already witnessed it with a younger musician that there are drawbacks.
Learning the clarinet will only have a POSITIVE effect on your son's sax playing.
Yes, the embouchure is different. It's firmer and more controlled. In no way will it damage his 'muscle memory'. If anything it will build his sax chops. He'll notice improved tone quality and endurance.
The fussiness of the clarinet hand position and finger placement will improve your sons' technique when switching back to sax. No more sloppy, flying, 'sax fingers'.

As I mentioned before, all 3 of my daughters learned their double/triple in Middle School. All of them remained one of the top players in their sections. Two of them were proficient enough on their doubles/triples to play in a community theater pit as Freshmen in High School. Not 'easy' material to play even for us 'seasoned veterans'.
Not many 14/15 year olds can switch from oboe/clarinet to bari sax in a matter of measures with no issues!

As a player and parent there are times when you overlook any percieved 'drawbacks' and focus on the long term benifits of learning new instruments/skills.
If the kid wants something bad enough they will find a way to efficiently manage their time to accomplish the desired goal.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Joined
·
2,081 Posts
...besides, as a clarinetist one more likely gets confronted with some more classical repertoire which can only have a positive effect on overall musicianship wrt phrasing, articulation, dynamics etc. Doesn't hurt, really.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,336 Posts
I hate to rain on everybody's parade here, but no one has asked the all important question, "how well does the student play saxophone"? Another good question is what grade is he in?

If he is still working toward good tone production, articulation, technique, range, etc. on the saxophone then introducing another challenge at this point in his development is highly questionable. Having taught band for many years, I watched several students jump around from one instrument to the next and become another "jack of all woodwinds and master of none".

My advice to even the most gifted of students is to attain a high level of proficiency on their first instrument before "diluting" their time and energy to learn doubles. A good rule of thumb is that if a 9th grade student can play a solo rated difficult and get a superior rating at festival on their first instrument, then they are ready to begin to learn a double with a good private instructor.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW member/, Official SOTW Sister
Joined
·
19,204 Posts
Well, the thread starter says the kid is in High School and studies with a private teacher. Later the parent says' they are 'accomplished', so that would lead one to believe that they are reasonable proficient.
Besides, you never know. The kid may end up being a far better clarinetist than they are sax player.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,336 Posts
Students take private lessons for one of two reasons they play well or they can't. We don't know any more than that. All parents think their own children are accomplished. :bluewink: I suspect you do as well.

I still believe it is better to learn one instrument well before branching out to others, but that is only my opinion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
142 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Students take private lessons for one of two reasons they play well or they can't. We don't know any more than that. All parents think their own children are accomplished. :bluewink: I suspect you do as well.

I still believe it is better to learn one instrument well before branching out to others, but that is only my opinion.
You make a good point, and I agree with your assessment on that as well. Both points as well, players should develop expertise before branching out and all parents think their kids are good! I like your defnition of if progressing as well, very quantafiable.

The interesting thing here is that I prompted my Daughter to double on the sax so she could play in Jazz Band in HS. She's struggling a bit with her playing where my Son at her age was exceling. She didn't really push me to double, I've pushed her into it. My Son is pushing me double and I'm questioning it. I started the thread wondering about my Son, and it's ending making we wonder if I've done the right thing with my daugther[rolleyes]

Hmmm. She's not done well so far either. She's really struggling to get her practice time in. Goes through her warm-ups and finds a hundred reasons to leave her room and never come back.

Oh, I heard from my Son's teacher and he thinks we should hold off for a few months. He doesn't bite down with his upper teeth and his teacher really wants him to go away from this technique he's been doing since he was in 5th grade. He wants him to have that issue put away before he starts doubling.

Which brings up a great point, does everyone agree with this thought, that he MUST bite down with his teeth on the mouthpiece? He's never done it before, and he says he cannot play well using his teeth. Is this really that critical??
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,336 Posts
Which brings up a great point, does everyone agree with this thought, that he MUST bite down with his teeth on the mouthpiece? He's never done it before, and he says he cannot play well using his teeth. Is this really that critical??
You are going to open a can of worms with that question. There is a small minority of players on the saxophone who use what is called the double lip embouchure. It is not taught as the standard pedagogy on the saxophone or the clarinet to students because it is an advanced technique. The top teeth generally rest on the top of the mouthpiece to give support for the upward pressure of the bottom lip against the reed. "Bite down" is a misleading term. Generally students avoid putting the top teeth on the mouthpiece because the vibrations feel funny at first to the top front teeth. With 99% of students this discomfort goes away after a few days. I would recommend getting a package of rubber mouthpiece patches from the music store---the thicker ones, and having him try those for a few weeks keeping the top teeth "resting" on top of the mouthpiece. Good luck with your students. It is always great to see parents who are so supportive in this area.
 
1 - 20 of 27 Posts
Top