Finding the Right Mouthpiece with Michael Wayne of the Boston Symphony Orchestra

Date Posted: May 03, 2016

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“My name is Michael Wayne and I’m a clarinetist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra and on the faculty at the New England Conservatory of Music. When I’m looking for a mouthpiece I’m in search of three basic qualities. Those qualities include: a mouthpiece that allows me to create a beautiful sound, has stable pitch, and is reed friendly. Although these may seem like simple needs, there are very few mouthpieces that are able to achieve all three characteristics. You might find a mouthpiece that has stable pitch and allows you to play a nice tone, but there’s a constant struggle to find an appropriate reed, and for me it’s simply not practical when I’m playing four concerts a week in the orchestra.

Whether you’re playing concerts or auditions we’re faced with many variables. As a reed player one of the main variables is equipment whether it be a reed or mouthpiece, and when you find a product that makes these variables less, you’re able to really focus on the ultimate goal which is creating music.

When I switched to the Vandoren M13 Lyre I felt I was able to focus more on performance and not worry so much about inconsistencies in my set-up.

I was very impressed with the overall quality of the M13 Lyre and I felt that they were remarkably consistent. One of my favorite characteristics of the mouthpiece is the evenness throughout the registers in a variety of dynamics. With my M13 Lyre mouthpiece I use a Vandoren V12 number 4 reed and I’ve used that reed for all of my career. The main reason is I find them consistent and I also (especially with the V12) am able to get a lot of depth in the sound and a lot of core in the sound. And in my job whether it’s in the orchestra, playing chamber music, or playing solo, it’s something that really gives me my own unique voice when I’m playing.

I found in my teaching that there is not one mouthpiece for every player. We’re all physically different and in turn play the clarinet in our own unique way. Since we all have slightly different oral cavities and positions of bite on the mouthpiece, I try to find mouthpieces for my students that are tailored for these physical differences. With Vandoren there are options for every player."

"I can find a mouthpiece that’s very closed to very open and everything in between. Vandoren mouthpieces also come in a low and a high pitch which I find very useful when playing in a variety of ensembles.”

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