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Anatomy of a Clarinet
The clarinet is comprised of five parts from top to bottom: the mouthpiece, barrel, upper joint, lower joint, and bell. Each part is fitted and aligned to one another in this order by four cork-covered tenons that hold the five parts of the clarinet tightly together. The mouthpiece is the top part of the clarinet, which holds the reed and has an opening for air to pass through the instrument. The reed is a thin strip of cane that is mounted on the table of the mouthpiece and held in place by an adjustable band called the ligature. The area where air enters the clarinet is known as the tip opening, which is located between the reed and the mouthpiece tip. As air flows through the clarinet, it causes the reed to vibrate and create sound. Mouthpieces for clarinets come in a wide variety of styles and brands, often made of either plastic or hard rubber. The barrel is responsible for connecting the clarinet's mouthpiece and upper joint while also shaping and directing the sound produced by the instrument. The barrel's material, weight, and taper all influence the sound quality of the clarinet. To prevent the tenon corks from damaging the barrel, barrel rings are used to constrict its ends. Upper & Lower Joints – The upper joint and lower joint of the clarinet are the two main parts that make up the body of the instrument. When assembled, they contain small, round keys that cover and uncover the tone holes. These keys are mounted on metal rods and consist of padded metal rings, covers, and levers. The clarinet has tone holes which can be covered or uncovered by the player. The notes are produced by covering or uncovering these holes with keys in different combinations. As you or your student progresses on the clarinet, a fingering chart will likely be used as a handy reference for learning the proper combinations to achieve the desired notes. Bell – The bell, which is responsible for projecting the sound, is the final component of the clarinet and is attached to the lower joint. It comes in various lengths, weights, bores, flares, and materials, similar to the barrel.
5 Tips for Beginning Band Parents
Congratulations! Your child has just joined their school band, beginning an exciting journey into the world of music. While seeing your child getting interested in music is fantastic, you may be wondering how you can best support and nurture their musical growth. Music is a discipline that requires time, effort, and consistency. As a parent, your encouragement and guidance can help your child succeed and enjoy their musical journey to the fullest. To assist you, we’ve compiled a list of five tips to make sure your child gets the most out of their band experience. 1. Help Your Child Establish (and Maintain) a Regular Practice Schedule Learning to play a musical instrument takes time and dedication. Help your child create a practice routine that works for both of you by finding a time each day that doesn't conflict with their other activities or your commitments. Encourage your child to stick to this routine, and be understanding if they occasionally need a break. Regular practice will help your child develop their skills and gain confidence in their abilities. Establishing this routine early on will set them up for success throughout their musical journey. 2. Supervise and Hold Your Child Accountable Taking an active interest in your child’s progress will show them that you are invested in their success. This can involve listening to their practice sessions, offering constructive feedback, and helping them set achievable goals. It is important not to be overly critical, as this may discourage them from putting forth their best effort. Rather, focus on recognizing their progress and emphasizing the importance of perseverance. By being involved in their practice, you can also make sure they are not cutting corners or skipping over techniques they may find difficult. 3. Encourage Your Child to Focus on Fixing Mistakes No musician is perfect, and your child will inevitably make mistakes as they learn to play their instrument. Help them understand that mistakes are a normal part of the learning process and encourage them to view these moments as opportunities for growth. When they struggle with a particular technique or piece of music, remind them to take it slow and break it into smaller, more manageable parts. Celebrate their improvements and instill in them the idea that persistence and hard work can overcome any challenge. 4. Make Sure Your Child Uses a Metronome A metronome is an essential tool for every musician, as it helps develop a strong sense of timing and rhythm. Encourage your child to practice with a metronome at a variety of tempos, starting slow and gradually increasing the speed as they become more comfortable. This will help build their confidence in their ability to play at different speeds and make it easier for them to adapt to tempo changes in their band music. Additionally, practicing with a metronome can help your child develop better listening skills, as they must pay attention to the metronome's ticking while they play their instrument. 5. Stay in Touch with Your Child’s Band Director Your child’s band director is a valuable resource for understanding your child's progress and identifying areas where they may need additional support. Make an effort to maintain open lines of communication with the band director, attending parent-teacher conferences, and volunteering for band events when possible. The band director can guide you in how to best support your child and may offer suggestions for resources or specific practice techniques to work on. By staying informed and involved, you are demonstrating to your child that their involvement in the band is important and valued. Supporting your child as they embark on their musical adventure can be both rewarding and challenging. By following these tips, you can help your child develop strong musical skills, promote a growth mindset, and enjoy their time in the school band. Remember, your encouragement and involvement can make all the difference in your child's musical journey. So grab a comfortable chair, listen to their progress, and enjoy the beautiful music they will make!
Making a Case for the Lowly 7C (and 12C for Trombone!)
There has been a trend with some directors for several years to disregard the 7C/12C mouthpieces for students. Some believe that these sizes are for beginners only, and some even don’t even want them for beginners, instead opting for a larger diameter mouthpiece. I want to make the case for why your students should stick to the tried and true 7C/12C offerings. But first, let’s make sure we are on the same page with understanding the mouthpiece nomenclature. This information applies both to Bach trumpet and trombone mouthpieces. MOUTHPIECE NOMENCLATURE The Number refers to the diameter of the inner rim. The lower the number, the wider the inner diameter. Inner diameter has two primary considerations: embouchure fit, and tonal goals. Let’s break that down. Embouchure Fit - much like shoe size, to some degree the player must pick a mouthpiece diameter that will fit their embouchure. However, it’s important to know that players of all lip sizes and thicknesses have historically played with much success on both small and wide diameter rims. If a player has fuller lips, they will need to accommodate any mouthpiece diameter by some amount of rolling in. Tonal Goals - in general, a wider diameter will enhance the lower overtones due to the increased vibrating mass underneath the mouthpiece rim. Think of a guitar. One can play a 4th space “E” on 6 different places on the guitar fretboard. On the thinnest E-string the sound is the brightest. At the 5th fret on the B string, which is a slightly thicker string, the sound is a bit darker. Once you are at the 24th fret of the largest E string, the tone is dark and dull. The Letter refers to the cup depth, “A” being the deepest, and “F” being the shallowest. A deeper cup has few upper harmonics, thus resulting in a darker sound. A shallower cup emphasizes the upper harmonics, thus resulting in a brighter sound. FWIW - Schilke & Yamaha are opposite of Bach: the larger the number, the larger the i.d. The A cup is the shallowest, and the E is the deepest. The two factors - inner diameter and cup depth work together to determine overall cup volume. Large volume cups require more energy and are less efficient. WAIT - BUT WHY? Now that the treatise on brass mouthpiece basics is out of the way, let’s focus on why the 7C is a good choice for nearly all of your students (including your beginners). The 7 rim is not a small diameter. For all intents and purposes, Bach makes trumpet rims with inner diameters (i.d.) ranging from 15mm-17mm. During the 60’s and before, the Bach 10.5C was what most students started on and what most professionals played (with an i.d. of 15.9mm). The 7C has an i.d. of 16.2mm - slightly larger than the median. So by starting on a 7C, we are already on the larger side of the i.d. spectrum. Why does this matter? For developing players, a medium inner diameter (i.d.) helps with two things that are crucial for school-aged players: It allows for the characteristic trumpet sound. One that has clear fundamental, but with the shimmer of upper harmonics. Most importantly, a smaller i.d. supports embouchure development. A large i.d. for players that are not properly developed will cause them to pinch their lips together and press the mouthpiece hard into their lips - both of which are recipes for poor range, endurance, and tone. This habit for most players becomes a life-long struggle with the instrument. Some of the world’s greatest players started and played their careers on mouthpieces with a smaller i.d. (Bobby Shew & Allen Vizzuti plays a mouthpiece that is like a Bach 10.5, and the venerable Bud Herseth played a Bach 7B in his early years at the Chicago Symphony, until scar tissue from a car accident forced him to move to a larger i.d. mouthpiece). So why should a school-aged brass player play a mouthpiece larger than a 7C? The only consideration should be if they are requiring a sound that has fewer overtones and is thus overall darker than what they can achieve on the 7C. But only if they have good range (can easily play up to high C) and have plenty of endurance. If these two qualifications aren’t met, I would not recommend moving up in size. But won’t they just learn to grow into the bigger mouthpiece, and then have even stronger chops in the long run? Hah! Absolutely not! It’s more likely that they will develop the dreaded 3 P’s of poor brass playing - Pinch, Press, and Pray! Unless they have properly developed the muscles of the embouchure, and have learned the proper mechanics of how to play their embouchure, a larger inner diameter mouthpiece will only encourage these bad habits. I hope after reading this you will see that the 7C/12C mouthpiece should not be dismissed. Many professional musicians make their living playing mouthpieces this size (really, it’s only the professional Symphony Orchestra players who consistently select the larger i.d. as the tone of the trumpet in modern orchestras has changed over the last few decades to become less brilliant). It’s also a good choice for your students. Have thoughts? Drop me a line! Donovan Bankhead President/Owner Ernie Williamson Music
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Used Gear Trade-ins 101
Are you thinking of trading in your used musical instrument for an upgrade? Then you’ve come to the right place! Here at Ernie Williamson, we understand that it can be hard to let go of a beloved instrument, but sometimes saying goodbye is the best way to get something even better. With our trade-in service, we can help make the process easier and allow you to get the most out of your old instrument in exchange for a new one. At Ernie Williamson, we are committed to providing our customers with the best quality instruments and services available. Our team of experts will work with you every step of the way to ensure that your trade-in experience is as smooth and stress-free as possible. We evaluate all trades based on condition and current market trends, so you can rest assured knowing that you are getting a fair deal. When trading in your old gear, keep in mind that we have to see it in person before making an offer. This allows us to get a better understanding of its condition and make sure that our offer reflects its current value. After evaluating your instrument, we will be able to provide you with an estimate for how much money or store credit you will receive towards a new model. In addition to trading in used musical instruments for upgrades, we also offer cash today for used gear. If you would rather receive cash than store credit on the spot, this is definitely an option worth exploring! No matter what route you decide to take when upgrading your musical instrument, our team at Ernie Williamson is here to help guide and assist you throughout the process. We strive to make sure that each customer leaves feeling satisfied with their purchase and happy about their decision – so don’t hesitate if there’s anything else we can do!