Ok, so yeah. I have barely touched my clarinets since my last post. I’ve gotten a real bad case of the lazies the past couple weeks. Probably the only productive thing I’ve done in the last two weeks is go to the gym! Oh and I’ve been playing Mario Bros Wii. Man, that game is hard! But that’s another and completely unrelated matter…
In other news (and the subject of this blog entry), I recently started lessons with a new beginner student. She is an adult who used to play when she was younger and wants to pick it up again. To my surprise, at our first lesson, she pulls out a GERMAN CLARINET! Oh geez, I’ve never even seen one of these instruments in the flesh and now I have to teach it! She grew up in Germany, and it was the instrument that she had played when she was a kid. I really didn’t want to tell her to get a new instrument, so I needed to suck it up and do some learning myself! Luckily, we were starting from the very beginning – she couldn’t remember how to play, so I didn’t have to worry about teaching fingerings the first day (we only worked on tone production). But I spent the next week scouring the internet for Oehler fingering charts. I found a great resource for fingering charts for all clarinets (Albert, Oehler, and Boehm systems)
At our second lesson, armed with a fingering chart, we started with a small scale from C4 to G4…except I couldn’t figure out the F. On a french system (Boehm) it is played with just the thumb (not shown on the pictures I included), but on her instrument (according the the fingering chart) it is played with the thumb and the middle finger. But it sounded like an F#. WTF. I checked and double checked the fingering chart. Checked and double checked the seal on the instrument, everything was fine! Her instrument does not have the key that is between the top two finger holes, I thought that maybe this had something to do with the weird pitch – because the alternate fingering for F uses this key. I told her to practice using F# (which is thumb – it is an F on a French Boehm system) just so she could get used to making sound and practice her finger coordination. I said I would research her instrument and see if there was something different about it – it looked pretty old so I figured maybe the fingering system was a bit different.. I wrote down all of the identifying markers of her instrument including the serial number. Here’s what I found out: her instrument is made by F. Arthur Uebel (check out the website here – but be aware that it is all in German), which is a pretty well known German clarinet maker, although I hear that the newer instruments are not of the same quality of the older ones. I discovered that the serial number gives the model number, the year it was made (1975) and the product number. I looked at pictures of the specific model online, and everything was the same except for that missing key! I was still pretty stumped, because everything I was finding told me that it was a normal Oehler instrument (except for the missing key). An unrelated but very unique thing about the instrument is that its stamped with “DDR”. My student told me that “DDR” means “East Germany”. Cool! Most of the clarinets I researched on the internet had “GDR” stamped on it (which is “regular” Germany, I guess).
Speaking of…my countdown has finally gone under 100 days! 95 days to go as of today…I’m getting excited, I’m so ready to do this!
One reply on “German system…oh my!”
Hi, I like your story. actually Im trying teach my self plying clarinet ( German sys ), could you please tell me where did you get the finger chart. could you please send me some links.