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Information for beginning clarinet

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

Welcome, beginning clarinetist!

If you are starting on the clarinet, you are in for an exciting journey. The clarinet is a beautiful and versatile instrument that can produce various sounds and styles.

Before you start playing, it's essential to make sure you have the right equipment. A clarinet, reeds, and a mouthpiece are the basics you'll need to get started.

When it comes to reeds, Rico #2 reeds are an excellent option for beginners as they are easy to play, affordable, and produce excellent sound.

The standard box of reeds contains 10 reeds. If your school gives out reeds to the students, they will likely be Rico #2. The Rico #2 has been the beginning band standard for years. You may also want to invest in a reed guard to protect your reeds (Rico and Vandoren manufacture inexpensive ones that work well) and a music stand

to help with proper posture!

When it comes to mouthpieces, the Yamaha 4C or 5C is a good starting choice. The Van Doren 5RV mouthpiece is a great option; it is suitable for all types of clarinet players and will give you a good balance of sound and comfort.

How To Hold The Clarinet

The clarinet is held by your right thumb, specifically the first joint of your right thumb. Added balance comes from a firm grip of your embouchure on the mouthpiece.

All your fingers and your left thumb must be able to move freely. Your fingers and left thumb do NOT hold up the clarinet.

Practice holding the clarinet with your right thumb and holding the mouthpiece in your mouth. Can you move all your fingers freely?

Hover Your Fingers

Let your hands be relaxed and find a comfortable position to float above the keys. The left-hand fingers: index, middle, and ring hover over the two ring keys and the blank hole. Your pinky rests lightly on the “B” key.

Your right-hand fingers: index, middle, and ring, hover over the bottom joint’s three-ring keys. Your right pinky lightly rests on the “C” key.

Practice holding the clarinet using only the first joint of your right thumb and your mouth on the mouthpiece. Practice holding the clarinet steady while you wiggle your fingers over the keyholes. Aim to keep your fingers close to the keys and avoid having them fly away.

Pinky Home Keys

Strive to have your pinky rest on their respective home keys. Can you lift your fingers (index, middle, or ring) while keeping your pinky on their home keys?

Next, you'll want to focus on proper technique and posture. Your posture should be upright and relaxed, and your jaw should be slightly open to allow proper airflow.

Regarding learning materials, "Sound Innovations" by Alfred Publishing is a popular method book used by many beginner clarinetists. It will give you a solid foundation in technique and theory.

Strengthening RH With "Clarinet Push-Ups"

Clarinet push-ups are a simple exercise that will develop strength and comfort in holding the clarinet. Hold the clarinet with the first joint of your right thumb and let the barrel lightly lean against your left hand.

Raise your thumb up and down repeatedly while allowing the clarinet to rest against your left hand. Strive to isolate the muscles in your thumb and use those. Do not use your wrist or forearm, just your thumb. This will undoubtedly tire out your thumb, but over time, it'll strengthen and make holding the instrument much easier!

Once you have the basics, it's time to start making music. Begin by working on long tones to help you develop your sound and control your breath. Then, move on to scales and simple melodies. Practice slowly and focus on clean, accurate notes.

As you progress, don't be afraid to take lessons from a professional clarinet teacher. They can help you improve your technique and guide you through more advanced pieces. Also, don't forget to listen to other clarinetists and musicians and try to learn from them.

Remember, learning to play the clarinet takes time and practice, but with dedication and perseverance, you will make beautiful music in no time. Happy playing!

If you still need to rent a high-quality student clarinet, AAA Band Rentals offers excellent quality Yamaha and Jupiter clarinets starting at as little as $20.00 per month. Renting a clarinet is an excellent way to see if there's genuine interest in playing without the considerable upfront expense of purchasing. It's also a great way to avoid buying a cheap, unrepairable instrument from a large online retailer! If you are enrolled in your program in school, ask your teacher about renting versus purchasing an inexpensive clarinet. We're sure they will tell you the same.

Good luck, and remember that we're always here to help!

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1 Comment

Elizabeth Lockhart
Elizabeth Lockhart
Jan 15, 2023

Beginner clarinets, grade 4 and older should start on #2.5 strength reeds for good sound production.

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