Edward S. Palanker
Used with permssion
Copyright 2010, Edward S. Palanker

I studied bass clarinet with Joe in 1960 for the better part of one year. After deciding to learn how to play bass I bought an inexpensive bass clarinet and found it very frustrating to play the upper register. After making several inquires I contacted Joe and began lessons. He was not only able to identify the problems I had but suggested that the instrument I had was probably the major cause. He recommended that I purchase a Selmer and a Selmer mouthpiece and he was very generous with his time in helping me locate and purchase one. There was a time after my lesson when he asked me to join him in picking out reeds. At that time the New York stores would allow you to pick from opened boxes so he took me around to a dozen stores and showed me what to loo k for in a good reed. By the time we were done I had over four dozen clarinet reeds and a dozen bass reeds. He was always very generous with his time.

One time he tried to teach me to raise my tongue higher when I was tonguing and when I got home, a 45 minute ride by subway, I was practically unable to play at all. I called him and told him I was having a terrible problem trying to play and had a clarinet lesson in a few days with Leon Russianoff, my clarinet teacher at Manhattan School of Music. He told me to come right back down and after diagnosing what I was doing he told me that my tongue was too big causing me to choke so I could not do what he suggested and somehow got me to go back to the tongue position I was playing with before.

One time I saw a recording sitting on his desk of a Strauss's tone poem Don Quixote recorded by the Philadelphia Orchestra and asked him how come he had that recording. He told me that was how you learn, by listening to others play.

Joe was a very fine teacher and a very nice person as well. He had a great reputation as a saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet teacher and player, all well deserved.

Edward S. Palanker
Clarinet and Bass Clarinet - Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Professor Emeritus - Towson University
Peabody Conservatory - Retired