Paul is a 5th grade student who loves music! Paul has cerebral palsy and struggles with fine motor movements. It is challenging coordinating his fingers with what his brain is telling them to do, as well as coordinating his breathing at the same time. Paul was also born with the third and fourth fingers on both of his hands joined together (syndactyly). He had them separated when he was very young, but his hands and fingers have never grown very large.
In the 4th grade Paul and his family chose the clarinet because it is a smaller instrument for Paul to be able hold and play. They wanted Paul to play a wind instrument to help him improve his breath support and tongue dexterity because those things can be challenging for him. Sometimes his limited breath support, due to his cerebral palsy, can make it hard to understand what he is saying. Improving his breath support by playing an instrument is a lot more fun than sitting through weekly speech therapy!
Playing the clarinet has been enjoyable for Paul, but it presented some challenges during his first two years of playing. His small hands make it difficult for him to reach the fingerings for all of the notes. It is difficult to cover the open holes on his clarinet so that he can play high and low notes without squeaking. His muscle tone issues make holding the clarinet and coordinating his finger movements difficult, so he needs additional support from a neck strap.
Paul has been very encouraged playing his new plateau clarinet. The plateau or closed hole set-up, the extended keys and the nice strap attachment on the back have all allowed him to be more successful in his playing. The shorter action needed to depress the keys has also helped him improve his fingering coordination. He is able to play the high and low notes much more successfully because he can manage almost all of the fingerings with the new set-up. He is very pleased with the new set-up and hopes that it could be available to other students who are beginning clarinet and need an instrument that is easier to use for smaller hands.