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Clarinet Lessons: Tongue Position

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[MUSIC]
Developing
a good clarinet tone.
Now when we're talking
about a tone that is good,
we're usually talking about
a sound that is even.
That is centered,
that is easily controlled in loud
dynamics as well as in softer dynamics.
Now, one of the things that I
believe is the most important,
is dealing with the airspeed,
tongue position and the finger legato.
Those three things are what I call
the trinity for good legato and
good clarinet tone.
Now, we have always talked
about long tones and
we are always being told,
I wish you'd do long tones, etc.
But what we will be discussing
is how to do long tones.
And also we talk about air speed and
how we're supposed to use it for
creating the proper voicing.
Now the most important thing is that
we need to have the air speed and
the tongue position in the right position.
Now Johann Christoph Denner,
the inventor of the clarinet,
made the clarinet coming from the previous
instrument which is the chalumeau.
Which is an instrument that had basically
the low register of the clarinet.
When we start talking
about The clarinet per se,
he actually invented a twelfth key.
The register key that we use,
and therefore we were able to get
the clarion register,
clarion comes form little trumpet.
That's what the word clarinet comes from,
clarino.
And from there on to today we
are always finding also that
speaker vent created a throat B flat.
And ever since then, we have been trying
to find what is the perfect compromise for
the vent and for a throat B flat, meaning
that the tongue hole is a little too big
to be an excellent vent to get perfect
12 and the sound to be excellent,
and it's a little too small
to make a very nice B flat.
But because of that, then we have
to definitely develop our air.
Now, one of the things that is
important is that because of this key,
most people have gotten
a little bit lazy or not so
intent on making sure that
the air goes the right way.
And one of the things that we have to
do in order to do that is practice
two counts of exercises.
One of them we found the raised key,
and the other one is for
dealing with the tongue position.
So, right now I'm going to work for
tongue position.
The exercise that I'd like to do for
tongue position is one where we play
a long tone high C and
then we relax the tongue
as low as we can sort of if
as we going to a glissando.
We are going to do a glissando
down to as low as we can and
then we are going to bring up
the tongue position as high as we can.
Now there is way I am
encouraging you to this.
It's that if I say raise
the tongue position, or
just make sure that it's not too tight or
too low, that is just impossible to
distinguish since we, our mouth we
don't have transparent cheeks and
we have to find what the proper places for
each of us is.
So, the reason why we go a little
low is so it forces us to relax.
So we have the tongue position, and then
we go low, and then we stand up again.
And then in that movement of coming back
up we try to get it as high as possible.
[NOISE] So it would be high C normal,
glissando down, and
bring it as high as possible.
[MUSIC]
[SOUND].
Now the second part of the exercise is
that we're going to do that with each note
in the clarinet symmetric scale, right.
And then what we'll do is,
we'll do the crescendo,
do, and then when we reached
the highest position on the C,
then we do a scale going do,
se,la so, fa, mi,
re, do without moving
anything else, okay?
[MUSIC]
So it's
[MUSIC]
etcetera, etcetera.
Now, what we will find is
that in most instruments,
once you start doing that,
if we are doing it properly then you'll
notice that some of the high notes
will start getting a little bit sharp.
Okay.
Then also the long C and
B in particular may get
a little bit fuzzy.
Okay and if that is happening
then you're doing it right.
Okay, and I'll explain why.
The sharpness on those
notes has to be there,
because in most instruments,
in the most popular instruments
that are out there, the placement
of the register key is in a place
that will give you a natural B flat,
and an easy response to the B.
But it's actually a little bit low,
a little too low and therefore the vent is
very close to the A, B, C's and
therefore those notes get sharp, okay?
Now, since we are talking about,
if you are at a college level or higher,
you will be noticing that,
my notes are usually not sharp.
I play them in tune.
Okay.
What that means is that you have
gotten very good at doing the little
adjustment with the tongue position for
those notes, which is not a problem.
But the thing is that many time,
we end up overcompensating,
and then we get what I would
call a slightly open sound
end of note that take away from what we
like to call a traditional French and
German quality of the sound of
those notes maintain the sound.
So I will play so, la, si, do, si, la, so,
with the regular tongue position, and
then I'll lower it the second time so
you can hear the difference
in color of the B and C.
[SOUND]
[MUSIC]
Now, I'll try it with
slightly lower in
the tongue position so
those notes don't get too high.
[MUSIC]
So, if we can
pay attention to it,
then the B and C get
a little bit more open.
In some schools it's usually okay,
but in the French, German or
American school of playing clarinet,
the more traditional school tries to
try ways so that then you have
a more even quality to the sound and
maintain work of the ping
in the sound okay?
Now so, as we get better at practicing
that tongue position movement.
We will then deal with air speed.
[MUSIC]