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John Adams

Middle School

Mouthpiece/Accessories Upgrades

Purchasing a mouthpiece and/or accessories upgrade can make a big difference in how the student sounds, as well as the ease of playing.  Here are some possibilities for upgrades under or around $100. Private lesson teachers also guide new purchases.

Clarinet and saxophone players:
*Move to using the Vandoren reeds, strength 2 ½ or 3 (try each to see which feels best, and holds tuning in upper register). These reeds are about .25 cents more per reed depending on where you buy them.  I always say not to throw away the Rico beginner reeds, but instead when it is time to purchase, then invest in Vandoren reeds, or go back and forth for awhile.  Rico Juno reeds are also a nice small step up from straight Rico reeds.
*Purchase of a Rovner ligature also helps produce a more mature sound for the student.  These run about $25.  
*One of the best upgrades that can be a little more pricy is to invest in a step up mouthpiece.  Selmer C* mouthpieces are great to play on for saxophone!  For clarinet, Vandoren 5RV/5 RVLyre, or Vandoren B45 mouthpieces are the best step up from the stock mouthpiece.

Here are a couple of articles on reeds and mouthpieces:
http://www.dansr.com/vandoren/resources/a-guide-to-moving-beginning-students-to-step-up-reeds-and-mouthpieces

7 General rules to live by and improve your clarinet and saxophone section:

  1. Not everyone can play the same mouthpiece. They need to try them and you need to listen to them play on them.
  2.  No one can effectively improve on a stock mouthpiece over time. The facing and tip of most factory mouthpieces are too small for growth.
  3. Better reeds make for better sound. Simple as that!
  4. Reed rotation (playing in a rotation of 4 reeds using a different of the four per each session) strengthens embouchures and makes reeds last longer.
  5. No reed should be left on any mouthpiece after any session. It ultimately hurts the reed and the table of the mouthpiece.
  6. A reed case to protect reeds is a good investment to protect reeds(and it promotes rotation!).
  7. Mouthpieces wear out over time. Even a good mouthpiece needs replacing every three to four years. (If you clean your mouthpiece all the time, eventually you’ll change the table dimension)


 

For brass mouthpiece upgrades (changing mouthpieces can make a world of difference in sound for a brass player!).  This should be done before or during the student's second or third year of playing.

Trumpet: Bach 3C (the smaller the number, the bigger the mouthpiece-producing a fuller tone, but don't move past a 3C at this time)

French horn: Holton Farkas

Trombone/baritone: Bach 6½ AL

For percussion: Get a stick bag.  Real Feel practice pad or actual snare drum (bells with the percussion kit sound quite good for practice).  Mallets:  Balter BB1 for vibes and marimba.  Balter BB11 for bells and xylophone.  Each different pair of sticks produce a unique sound.  Try some out before buying.  The percussionist begins to be known for their sound with their choice of sticks.

Supplies can be bought locally through Rochester Music Stores or at WWBW.com.  **With mouthpiece upgrades, it is good to try them first before purchasing.

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