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Clarinet Lessons: Air Speed

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Now talking
about air speed.
What we are talking about is
making sure that we have to be
thinking that we blow
through the clarinet, okay?
Not into the clarinet,
but through the bell.
I like to say,
say hello to the wall in the concert hall.
Just don't blow [NOISE] out through here,
but as if we're blowing a birthday
cake with 100 candles so we need to
have a lot of speed in that air.
Now there will always be
exceptions to every rule,
but I will say that in general
the most important thing is to
be thinking that the air is
like the river, like a river.
If we think of the Rio Grande
an enormousl river just go along,
there are spots where we have white
waters so the air's very fast and
[SOUND] as we play some exciting music.
And sometimes it looks completely still,
almost like a lake.
But we know there's an undercurrent and
there's still that intensity
to get the river and that mass of
water to go all the way to the ocean.
How we develop this is coming
from the tongue position,
there would be very annoying, and a very
pretty sounding exercise which we will do.
And we have to do basically in the comfort
of our home or when we know that
there's nobody listening behind the door,
but is extremely important.
And what I talk about is for
the air speed and
tongue position combined
is called voicing.
So for this, what we have to be thinking
about is what happened going back to
thinking about the register tube and
the register key,
is that as we have gotten used
to using that, we have forgotten
to use the air and the tongue position
sort of like it was used at the beginning.
In order to get the upper register we
have get the fundamental with the air and
the speed,
sort of like it is done in a flute.
So you have to change the air and
the tongue position.
But as we have gotten
used to having the key,
then we have been able
to slow down that air.
And the way to practice that is just by
literally practicing not using this key.
Now at the beginning it will be
much more difficult to get going.
So then what we would do
is mooch it a little bit.
We'll play a high C with the key and
then we'll let go of the key but
we will try to maintain the note going.
Now, because it doesn't have the speaker,
the pitch will go lower, about $0.25.
So, don't be afraid of that.
What we're trying to do is to
maintain the C going, okay?
So I will try it, and will show you
playing a high C like a whole note,
with the key, and
then letting go of the key.
[SOUND] And then we will do
that with each note diatonically
going to a C major scale.
That we have to do often,
at the beginning,
when we're getting the airspeed and
the tongue position in the right place.
Second exercise to try is we play the C,
we let go of the key,
and then we have to play
a scale going down,
while maintaining the sound without
getting to the fundamental.
Now at the beginning,
some of us will have a little trouble and
the notes will come down sort of like.
And it doesn't come out,
that means that our air speed is
not as efficient as it should be.
Now, how will we get to those notes?
We'll do it like everything else that is
worth doing, slowly and calmly, okay.
So we'll go with the scale and
then we'll find where that note is.
Let's say the two notes that you
will find as you continue to do this
that are the most difficult is D and
D flat.
So those are always a little tricky for
Well I've been practicing so
it's not going the wrong way just now but
it's like I practiced for you, see.
Anyway what I wanted to show you
is that if we lose it it's because
the speed of the air doesn't happen.
You see?
So what we will be thinking at the
beginning is let's create a rush of air.
So at the beginning its
a great amount of air, okay?
So we'll go doing this
exercise sort of fortissimo.
And then we will see after we do
that then without making any movement
here we will add the register key to see
where it is in relation to the sound.
So what we will hear,
eventually as you get more and
more comfortable with it
is that you will get,
not just ring in the sound,
but you will get the glow.
And that's what I call the expensive
part of the clarinet sound,
the most beautiful part.
A halo in the sound,
because it's focused but
also it has a little bit more of the upper
partials because you are actually
voicing it right with the high
composition that creates the speed.
That helps you to create the speed and
that speed gives you that little halo,
the [SOUND] in the sound.
Now that we'll do as we get used to
it with the scale one note at a time.
Whole note with the key and
whole note without the key and
then the scale, whole note with the key,
whole note without and then
we play the scale down without the key and
come back and then do it with the key.
It sounds like a lot but it's just this.
Just to
get us used to
the feel, okay.
Now, I will tell you that
when you practice this way,
this tongue position and air speed for
proper voicing is paramount to
everything that we do in clarinet.
It will be paramount for volume,
because with the right position and
the right speed, we will get enough
intensity to create vibrancy in the reed
and the upper partials to
have a sound that projects.
It will give you the flexibility
to have notes that vibrate
from register to register
because we have a much more even
way of using the air and
more even uses of the air speed.
And most importantly that we all want
to get, especially playing clarinet,
it will improve your tonguing and
your articulation.
And the reason for that is because when
we're having that tongue position high,
then the angle of the tongue is higher,
And we will be able to create a speed
of the reed vibrating that once
we touch it and we go back,
since we're having the right angle,
then we will get a very good quality tone.