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Johnson, Mike (ed.) / Leblanc Bell : A newsletter for music retailers, educators, employees and friends of G. Leblanc Corporation
(May 6, 1996)

Clarinet comments,   pp. 22-24

Page 22

Artist-quality clarinets
are an investment in the
very soul of school bands
by Tom Ridenour
Manager, Woodwind Company
Each year most music educators re-
ceive some funds (and generate other
funds through candy sales and so forth)
in order to purchase sheet music, equip-
ment and musical instruments. The
prevailing wisdom concerning the use
of these funds has been to purchase
those instruments that the individual
student might not be able or inclined
to buy, such as tubas, oboes, bassoons,
sousaphones, euphoniums or tympani.
This seems the most obvious and
logical choice, the one that many band
directors unquestioningly make year
after year. But what may seem obvious
and logical at first blush might not turn
out to be the best choice when looking
more closely and thoughtfully at the
bottom line.
Recently, a band director in the
South who has one of the best music
programs in his state was confronted
with a dilemma: Whether to spend his
allotted monies on a new set of tympani
or realize his longtime dream of buy-
ing top professional clarinets for his
best band. He knew that if he bought
the tympani, his decision would pass
unquestioned. If he bought clarinets,
however, he would probably have to
justify that decision. What to do?
After extensive testing of other
brands of clarinets, and a little thought,
he opted to purchase a number of
Concerto model Leblanc France clari-
nets for his clarinet section rather than
a new set of tympani, and his reason-
ing is worth noting.
He said that the tympani would be
great for rehearsals and for concerts at
school, but there would be many in-
stances when the band would have to
perform away from school, and it
would not be possible to take the
tympani with them. What's more,
these "away" performances would of-
ten be the most critical events for
maintaining the reputation and success
Few bands will lose a top rating for lack of professional-quality tympani or a new set of
of the band, the esteem of its members
and the enthusiastic support of the
local community.
He reasoned, therefore, that while
he would often leave his tympani sit-
ting in the band room, he could al-
ways take a section of fine clarinets
with him, clarinets from which the
band would always benefit. It was this
deeper reasoning, based on a proper
perspective in regard to musical pri-
orities, that caused him to opt to buy
the new clarinets and live with his old
set of tympani. My own prejudices
aside, this was a very good decision.
This thinking was further underscored
for me during a conversation this past
February at the Texas Music Educators
Association convention San Antonio.
I was talking with one of the senior
members of the Texas musical estab-
lishment, someone who had been a
highly successful and respected band
director in Texas, as well as a tremen-
dously successful band instrument sales
He mentioned that he came to the
conclusion early on that the clarinet
section was really the key to the suc-
cess of a band. Time after time, as both
a band director and a contest judge, he
had noted that it was the quality of the
clarinet section that literally made the
difference between a poor rating or a
great rating in competition. He said
that no matter how good the other sec-
Correct pedagogy and ideal
equipment go hand in hand
to create a predictable
formula for success. Both
are critical for the kind of
success needed to help put
a band over the top.
tions might be, a poor or mediocre
clarinet section brought down the
whole band.
This repeated experience as a band
director and adjudicator also affected
his thinking as a sales representative.
As a salesman he had the opportunity

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