|Shannon at Curtis, Summer 2002|
My presentation is going to identify the tonal characteristics of Bonade and his students and show how they got it through their technique and the equipment they used. Much of the background is already in my doctoral treatise, The Philadelphia School of Clarinet Playing..., but I'm also really going to spell out to people the elements of acquiring a beautiful, flexible clarinet sound. I'm excited about getting back into this topic again, since it is so near and dear to my heart, and my recent experiences with mouthpiece craftman Ramon Wodkowski and reed maker Brian Hermanson have futher helped me to refine my sound and knowledge. As Richard MacDowell says, it's all about overtones.
Speaking of overtones, I received the bad news last week that I have some hearing loss in the 4000-6000 hz range. This is typical for an orchestral musician of my age, but it has been a painful process in the last five years to lose my ability to hear people speak clearly in the classroom. I also wonder how much it affects my ability to discern clarinet tone, and I think I'm going to have my friend Eldred boost the sounds of these overtones for me on recordings so I can be clear about what I am missing. It's frightening and completely irreversible. I am getting some custom 12 db earplugs to wear in loud situations to help prevent further hearing loss, but I am concerned that I won't be able to hear enough when I have these earplugs in. I've been appalled at the lack of attention or even concern by some orchestra managers and conductors to complaints about noise from brass and percussion, and it really doesn't help when the people who are making the loud noises are going deaf too!
Anyway, my big takeaway from this is that musicians OF ALL AGES should protect their hearing with custom earplugs. At least, that's what my audiologist says, and I have to agree with her now that I better understand the reasons for my hearing loss. It's not just the amount of decibels, but it's prolonged exposure to loud sounds. My students who are on the marching band field certainly must experience dangerous levels of exposure. I was not in marching band in college, and I am experiencing what I consider significant hearing loss. ANY hearing loss is significant for a professional musician. Check this link out for more info on musician's hearing.
The photo is me when I visited the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia several years ago. Bonade taught some of his most famous pupils at Curtis, and this photo makes me feel nostalgic for researching again. That's what I'm going to do as soon as things settle down and I finish learning my music for my February 21 recital.