Dismiss Notice
I hate the colors. What do I do?

At the far bottom of the page, on the left, is a menu or link that says, "Forum Default." Click on that and choose a different Style.

Have a hard time playing high notes on Bb Bass Clarinet above high F

Discussion in 'Bb Bass Clarinet' started by aaryanb, Feb 17, 2016.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Dear Everyone,

    I've been having a hard time playing high notes above F on my Bb Bass Clarinet. I think it's my embouchure and I need tips on how to play any high notes above the high F. I've bought a new DARK Rovner ligature and a Yamaha 4C Mouthpiece for Bb Bass Clarinet, but it's still fairly hard to play high G,A,B, and C. When I play these high notes I'll get a squeak and mostly a sound that sounds like a sigh. I don't get any of these difficulties after the high F (including the high F). Does anyone have tips or now how I can fix this?

  2. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Which high F ?

    How long have you been playing / experience?
    Do you have an instructor ?
    new instrument or have you been using it for a while with no issues other than what you mention?
    Did you have a previous instrument where this was no problem?
    or did this all of a sudden start being a problem ?

    Have you had a tech look at the instrument ?
  3. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Admin and all around good guy. Staff Member Administrator

  4. Reply, Specifying whats wrong, etc

    Basically everything above the high F :)Line5:) on the bass clarinet:
    These notes: :Space5:, :Line6:, and the notes higher (High B & High C): to be specific

    I do have an instructor, but she hasn't been able to figure out how to help, I just have to keep on making an O embouchure, no progress though. I have been playing for about half a year. New instrument with no other issues that I have found out about. I used to play the clarinet and I had the same problem except no sighs just squeaks, but clarinet's embouchure are very different from bass clarinet's right? Let's forget about that then... This has been happening ever since I bought my got my bass clarinet, before the problem could have been because I had been using an alto sax ligature, but when I bought a ligature things only slightly improved. My instructor played my instrument with a different mouthpiece and she found out that she could do everything fine, which meant there was no tech problem and it had to do with me mostly.
  5. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Can you play test your bass with your instructor's mouthpiece ?
    and have her test your mouthpiece

    you'll want to dip it in mouthwash for a bit then water wash before and after each use ... the quickest "sanitizer" that is easily available.
  6. I'm pretty sure it's a voicing or mouthing problem, not a technical problem though... What should I do to fix my voicing or mouthing?
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
  7. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    That's a pretty good article. I would start there.

    Also, can your teacher help you at all in this issue?
    S/He should be able to review your embouchure, and the way you support your air stream.

    may times I see most ppl don't really support their airstream.
    it's like the only just breathe out and expect that to be good enough.
    The diaphragm support, throat, cheeks, mouth et all are very important in producing a good tone and to keep instrument response at it's highest.

    And as the article reviews, the embouchure is different. It's a different instrument.
    I know I treat soprano, alto and tenor as different instruments because my embouchure is different between the 3.
    My soprano sax chops have more in common with clarinet, than the alto/tenor.
    And actually, the more in common with french horn nearly too LOL .. well, maybe not, but close up until the lip part.
  8. My Solo

    Dear All,

    I need to learn the piece Bach - Cello Suite No.4 v-Bourree

    I'm playing the bass clarinet piece however (don't worry about the transposing and all that it's covered), but the main problem is there are a lot of high notes and some exceed past the high F (those ones I'm still trying to get good at) I need to learn this in a week and many people are saying If I want to be able to play any notes above the high F in the first register (third octave) I need to take it relaxed and slow and just keep on practicing. I probably can't learn this in a week because of my disability right now and I should scrap it and play something else right?

  9. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    you have a private teacher.
    S/he should be much more able to answer that question than us.
    You should maybe have more sessions with your teacher on this piece and your voicing.

    Over the internet we can send you on a wild goose chase on solving this issue.
    but we CANNOT see the issue.
    We cannot see your embouchure, air support
    we cannot check your mouthpiece nor instrument. A Pro can play over instrument problems.

    Just think of it this way. You are at an entry level of knowledge.
    Your description of things may overlook what someone with knowledge can see/do.
    Thus helping over the internet is very difficult.

    You may have to read that article, practice it's techniques
    then REREAD the article as you'll pick up on more things.

    being a musician is more than learning the basics in 20 minutes then you're a pro.
    It takes practice and dedication.
    And knowledge increases over time.
    And you have a teacher which can help you along the way which is at such an advantage over us on the internet.

    Most players pinch their embouchure even though they THINK they aren't.
    But your teacher is in the prime situation to be able to help with everything.
  10. The article mentions an automatic double octave key mechanism. Student bass clarinets typically only have a single octave key. This contributes to the difficulties with high note response. But when you learn to get these notes on a single octave key clarinet, it really locks in your voicing. In fact it helps to learn to play these notes without using the octave key.

    Try playing the highest few notes you can and releasing the octave key while holding a long tone. Don't let the note drop down a 12th. Alter your embouchure and oral cavity until you find a position that helps with this excercize. Try moving from high note to high note without using the octave key. After getting more secure doing this, you can try to play higher notes the same way until they feel secure.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
  11. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    That, I believe, is an excellent observation. The upper register on most woodwinds requires a special voicing and air speed to respond consistently and with a good sound. A concept I was taught by one of my instructors is "playing on the airstream". Very simply that means to blow an airstream with the same pitch as the note you are going to play and use that speed of air and shape inside the mouth (mostly tongue position) to produce the note. It can roughly be described as an "airy sounding whistle".

    If I were your teacher, I would have you first play low Bb with a big full sound as a long tone. Then I would have you blow the pitch of the high F on the airstream to get the "taste" of that note. Then I would have you start on the big full sounding low Bb and add the register key while changing your airstream and "voicing" to that of the high F. When the high F is clear and consistent with this exercise. I would have you practice coming in on the high F itself.

    When you can make an entrance on the high F then I would have you blow the airstream of the F and then take the pitch of the air stream up to the G. Then you would slur from high F to high G. Using this pattern one note at a time, you would work up to the high C. To reinforce the concept I would have you practice the C scale slurred up and down 2 octaves and the C and F arpeggios up to high C and back down.
  12. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    The other thing is that the (full) piece you're talking about, on a range of 1 to 6, is a 6. In other words, it's fairly difficult. I should know: I played it on baritone sax for competition a billion years ago (yes, JS Bach, himself, handed it to me and I was using a prototype sax). In other words, there's a disconnect somewhere. Your teacher -- I assume that's who gave you the piece -- thinks you can learn to play this piece in a week, but you're having some basic problems.

    I +1 the idea of talking with your teacher a bit more about this.
  13. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Admin and all around good guy. Staff Member Administrator

    Of the four students I have taught with this problem, all four changed mouthpieces and we got immediate and satisfying improvement. All of these people were using school instruments that had student-grade mouthpieces. If you live near Seattle, I could take a look. I don't think your current instructor sounds very good because you are not making any progress. But we are really working blind here. How does your instructor sound on your instrument?
  14. She sounds normal with my bass clarinet and said my embouchure was wrong (I'll go into it more in detail). I understand why you think my instructor is bad because I haven't got much progress, but that's probably because I've just started these methods. I bought a Yamaha 4C which was about $62, so I'm pretty sure nothing cheap.

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2016
  15. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    The entire thing is .... your instructor will have more ability to help. The reason being ... we could contradict her on things and she's "seeing" you play, and we're basing our recommendations on what you perceive could be your problems.

    So I'm always going to recommend that you work with your instructor more since you have one.
  16. For voicing high notes, you will probably need to play with an oral cavity similar to saying "ew" or "ee" while playing. Lower notes are more like "ah" or "uh".

    Also so if you have ever yawned while playing, trying to duplicate that feeling can make you more aware of voicing changes that can be made. You then use muscle memory to duplicate what works best for each note.
  17. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Howdy. I closed this thread. I'm sorry I forgot that I replied to some threads that were in the Moderation Queue, thus wouldn't appear until I approved them. :oops:

    Anyhow, I've contacted OP: I think this thread has more than run its course and OP wished to continue the discussion on a different forum.

    I want to thank JBT, Mojo, Steve, and Gandalfe for their excellent posts in this thread!
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Our staff's websites: