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Any tips for high notes (around altissimo range)?

Ok, so first post ever, yay xD. Never mind. And I don't know where else to put this question, excuse my ignorance.

Um, onto the question:
So I have a Buffet E12 Bb clarinet that I got pretty recently, and I think I've gotten used to it, but......I just can't get that high b before the start of the altissimo range out. Like I can play practically every note except for that high b. I get to the b and nothing comes out but that grunting noise. I can somehow play the c above the b fine; and I kinda have to adjust my embouchure in different ways when I get to that b before it finally comes out. I'm preeeetty sure my clarinet isn't leaking or anything, but I guess that's always an option. I play size 3 Vandoren reed on a Vandoren B45 mouthpiece. So I'm wondering if it's just my technique/embouchure, the reed I use (I doubt it though, I have the same trouble on all my reeds), the mouthpiece I use, or the clarinet itself.....

So any ideas or tips to help me out?
No; I think I'll check tomorrow when I practice.....to be honest it never occurred to me until I posted this question that some of my pads could be leaking......I guess because my clarinet is still new, so I didn't expect it....ah, well I shall see tomorrow!

Thanks for the suggestion! :D


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
I don't know your level of playing ability so I am going to give a check list of suggestions that I have used in my teaching when the problem you describe occurs. Please don't take offense if you know these things already.

- Mouthpiece pitch needs to be high enough, C concert on mp alone, F# concert (or higher) on mp + barrel
- Airstream must be fast and cold for high register notes
- Embouchure must be firm, think of a sour lemon, raise eyebrows (related to mp pitch)
- Back of the tongue needs to be elevated, say or sing "EE", "hiss" like a cat

A good way to practice is to slur up to the note you are having trouble with increasing the speed of the air as you go. When the note sounds, hold it as a long tone to learn the "taste" of the note. Do that several times until it speaks every time, then practice starting on that note.
I have an adult student with same problem; to echo jbtsax, it's all about embouchure up there...much as football players lift weights to build up strength in arms and legs, we need to build strength in the muscles around the lips.

So a strong embouchure is a key (long tones help with muscles...another thing I've found is students will psyche themselves out..."oh, no a high note!"...they start to tense up closing the throat..stay relaxed; it's just a note.
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