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Thread: playing woodwind instrument

  1. #1
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    playing woodwind instrument

    Hi. My undiagnosed daughter is starting to play the clarinet. She is having a very hard time making full, long sounds. She practically shakes as she tries to make sounds. I don't remember it being that hard to make sounds when I started playing it many years ago. She can only hold a note for a couple of seconds. She coughs a little while practicing too. So far, practice sessions only last 5 min or so b/c it's all new to her and getting used to it slowly. Think this is a normal challenge for all kids new to playing a wind instrument or think she's struggling b/c of lung function or something?

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    I played clarinet and bass clarinet and when I first started it was a bit difficult but it got easier as I went. My mom and younger sister played clarinet, they both don't have CF, and it was a challenge for them to learn too. It's more getting used to the reed and using all that extra air that makes it challenging at first. Learning high notes will be a challenge too (because it requires more air)and get ready for lots of squeaks coming for awhile. As a beginner she should be using a size 1 reed. If not get her one. It will make all the difference. Playing clarinet is a great form of airway clearance too. So it's going to be an adjustment but it will get things out. I noticed the difference once I graduated high school and stopped playing regularly. It's a great way to keep healthy and she'll enjoy playing it that she won't think about it as an extra treatment. Good luck!

  3. #3
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    Momto2girls,

    My wife plays the flute. It's not the kind of music instrument that you find laying around unless you are interested in buying one. Always curious about how something works, I asked to have her show me how to make a tone. I don't have CF lungs and at the time I tried out her flute, my CF diagnosis wasn't going to be made for another 20 years. Undoubtedly I was doing something wrong, but jeeze it took some serious wind.

    I just read your post to my wife and she was quick to point out that a flute is quite different from a reed type woodwind instrument. We have a friend who plays the Bassoon professionally and I sent your post onto her. Like many professional musicians, she has taught, and since most people wouldn't know Bassoon from an Oboe, a Clarinet is smaller, generally more affordable and one of my favourite instruments, she has also taught. She might have some insight but since you have played and Kenna2 makes a good argument, I'm guessing she's just figuring out how to get a reed to work for her. At any rate, I've passed on your questions.

    LL
    66 yr. old man, DX CF 2002 by sweat test. Heterozygous S1235R revealed by genetic testing in 2003 & 2012 accepted secondary mutation. 7T, 7T polymorphism appears to be virulent.

  4. #4
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    Thank you for your responses. I hope kenna2 is right and she's just figuring it out. LL, looking forward to you you find out from your inquiry to your friend.

    My daughter's pulm has thought of putting her on a treadmill since she never seems to have endurance...tires much more quickly than others. She can run the mile in school but it takes her over 12 min....by far the slowest in her 4th grade class. Wondering if pulm is onto something and the difficulty is related or if it will just take time like most new things.

    Thanks again.

  5. #5
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    I also had a second thought I wanted to add. Another part of learning the clarinet, when you play, you are supposed to try and keep your cheeks from being puffed out when you play. This might be something she is currently trying to work on, which does make it harder. I threw this rule out...I have a lung disease, if my cheeks puff they puff. I would have her focus mainly on just getting the sound out and somewhat controlled and as she gets older and more used to it, she can always polish up the look of her cheeks later.

  6. #6
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    Yes! I try to get her to stop puffing her cheeks and she can't. It's hard watching her try. We'll give her lessons a good try this summer and see if her teacher thinks it's an instrument she will have success with. If not, percussion is an option.

  7. #7
    I think when you are learning a woodwind instrument, you use a ton more air than normal because you have no technique. Once she gets technique, it should be a lot easier. Although I have a pretty low FEV1 and FVC, I can still play the flute a bit because I learned good technique as a kid/teen. I think it will get easier for her. (I hope)
    DDf508, 46 years old, 2 daughters (ages 16 and 12), PA, SA, Aspergillus, Achromabacter, GERD, CFRD, Asthma, Married 20+ years, FEV1 20% or lower, FVC 52%, listed at Duke with 1 dry run under belt.

  8. #8
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    Thank you all. She's already handling it better!

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