Switching Clarinet from Boehm to Reform Boehm
Have you been interested in playing a Reform Boehm (RB) clarinet? Are you captivated by the idea of an hybrid clarinet that blends the warmth, darkness and focused sound of German clarinet, with the ease, flexibility and virtuosity of a French one? Do you own a RB clarinet and have some doubts about intonation, fingerings, mouthpieces, embouchure, reeds, an so on?
My name is Javier Vinasco, I am a clarinetist and Doctor of Music. I spent the last 8 years studying a couple of RB clarinets and now I want to share with you my experience and knowledge about this instruments. Certainly, what I want to say about RB clarinets don’t pretend to be the only truth, but the result of my personal research, a serious work that hopefully will help to RB enthusiasts.
I believe that RB clarinets are widely misunderstood. There are some factors that makes difficult the process of switching from Boehm to RB, specially when you are used to play a French clarinet for years:
· It’s hard to find guidance in the process. Many people comment on RB clarinets, even if they never own or play one of them.
· There are a lot of wrong or confuse information about RB clarinets and prejudices. Surprisingly, this inaccurate information is provided even for clarinet makers.
· It’s not an easy task to reach a good level of performance on this instruments in a short time (like a summer vacation). Meanwhile, if you are a professional player, you have to continue with the engagements in which you are expected to play in a proper way. This situations can puts you under a big stress.
Many people classify a RB as a German clarinet, others as a French one, and others think that it has no identity at all. I believe that RB is not a German clarinet, nor a French one, but a different kind of clarinet. It has its own identity. Therefore, a good point to start is not to try to play it as a French clarinet, or expect that it sounds exactly as a German one. You have decided to play an hybrid, that means that you accept it as a new category of clarinet and are open to discover it.
In this blog, among other topics, I will address issues in regard to RB clarinet. I will mainly write in English, but sometimes also in Italian or Spanish, my native language. Even though my clarinets are made by Herbert Wurlitzer (model 185 E/F, 2013), I am not intending to promote this particular brand. I haven’t a commercial relationship with Wurlitzer and the most of my results can be applied to other clarinet makers that produce RB (or instruments with a similar concept).
My ultimate goal is to help you in the process of learning and adapting to RB clarinets, and makes the process as painless as possible. I want to help you to face up to difficulties and frustration, like I had to cope in some moments. Everything can be solved with the correct information and procedure. I want you not to waste time, effort and, of course, money.
At the end, it’s possible that you change your mind and abandon the idea of playing a RB clarinet. It’s normal to feel that it’s not worth the big effort you need to do to switch, or that the result barely will be noticed by others. In any case, it would be desirable that you make such a decision supported in accurate information and going through a well informed proceeding. On the other hand, you would achieve what you are looking for, and being very satisfied with the final result.
If you are interested in having personal advice, I will be glad to help you with the whole entire process. Don’t hesitate to contact me. Certainly, I am interested in your comments. I strongly believe that knowledge is the result of a collective effort. Finally, enjoy the process and good luck! 🤞