Dreadfully embarrasing and always when you least expect it?
Even the most expert of clarinettists can suffer a squeak but, thankfully for them, rarely. For those experts, the cause is usually the reed. After all, the clarinet reed is only a small piece of cane - arundo donax is its scientific name - and like all things that are natural, it will eventually expire - or just squeak. So it will be discarded.
For we normal mortals, however, incessant squeaks are due primarily to problems of technique and are definitely curable.
It is most likely that you will have been told to "turn your lip back and blow" to make the sound on your clarinet - true?
Well that advice is guaranteed to cause squeaks, squawks and shrieks.
Not until you have been taught how to control the reed by placing it in your mouth correctly and then to develop your lip muscles - you will always suffer from squeaks.
This where we come in.
The secret of squeak control is NEVER to blow the clarinet and, above all, NEVER - EVER to bite the reed.
It is all in this book.
The Clarinettist's Technique Doctor was written especially to give you all the vitally important techniques of clarinet playing but without waffle or jargon - just in plain english.
"Who are you to claim to be an expert?" you ask.
My name is Peter Moore and, apart from the fact that I have spent 58 years playing the clarinet, I am almost exactly like you - a lover of music - a true amateur and a teacher. I started learning the clarinet in 1956, aged 18 and, as there were no clarinet teachers on the island of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides where I was stationed as an airman, I had to teach myself.
I had spent £20 on a clarinet with a Tutor Book - a month's wages in those days, and I set-to with a will to learn to play it. The years passed and I persevered, reading every book that I could find on the subject in an endeavour to eliminate the squeaks and squawks that beset my playing from time to time. By the time I was 24, I had at least a competent technique, but still not as fluent as I would have liked.
In 1963, I was demobilised and became a civilian, having to learn a completely new life after nearly 8 years in the RAF, so my clarinet playing had to take a back seat for a while. Although I managed to join various bands, I had the frustration of knowing that something was not right. My high notes were thin and insecure and my tone on the whole was variable and somewhat rough, but "why?" was a mystery, unsolved by the advice in books.
It was when I ventured to learn the flute in the early 80's and decided that I would invest in lessons from top professional performers, that I was persuaded to consider music teaching as a career by a music teacher in the Rock Band that I was then managing. So I did.
It was then that I met the best teachers of all - my students. After 28 years of struggling with the clarinet, I finally discovered how to make the sound on the mouthpiece correctly - by helping my students to overcome their problems.
It was when a fairly advanced student of mine was blowing air down the side of the mouthpiece whilst she played, blowing too hard in fact, and when attempting to analyse exactly what she did, that I realised what was wrong.
I had been doing what everyone had told me to do - blowing - yes exactly - blowing! Sounds crazy? But every book and every article I had ever read used the word - and they still do - except us.
When I realised that the amount of air going down my mouthpiece was no more that a whisper, that I was merely breathing, the penny dropped. Yes, there IS a correct way to form the embouchure and after those 28 years, I had actually mastered the technique without realising it. The difference now was that I understood what to do and could, at last, teach all my students how to play without "busting a gut" or trying to blow the clarinet across the room.
Yes, the secret IS in this book - you'll have to buy it - but it's worth its weight in gold.