If you’re interested in playing the clarinet, whether for the first time or once again, there are a few important clarinet accessories you should purchase before you even think about signing up for lessons. While some are essential to playing, others are essential to comfort and maintenance of your instrument. Provided you don’t lose or damage them along the way, many of the clarinet accessories on this list should last for a good amount of time. From clarinet mouthpieces to music stands, here’s a list of essential accessories you’ll need in order to successfully and happily play the clarinet.
The mouthpiece is such an essential part of playing the clarinet, that most clarinetists don’t even think of them as accessories. For many clarinet players, the mouthpiece is just an extension of their instrument. As such, it should be treated with the utmost attention and care. Whether you’re replacing a damaged mouthpiece or are looking for an upgrade to improve your sound and playing, spending a good amount of time learning about and understanding clarinet mouthpieces is key. From learning about the different parts of a clarinet mouthpiece to understanding the impact different materials have on its sound, here’s everything you need to know about clarinet mouthpieces. When traveling with your clarinet mouthpiece, make sure it has its own case. If you just throw it in your clarinet case with the rest of your accessories, you risk accidentally damaging it during transport.
A Box of Reeds
You can purchase the most expensive, handcrafted clarinet from the best music store in the country, but if the reeds are low quality the clarinet will sound like a cheap, defective instrument purchased from a pawn shop. While every part of the clarinet contributes to that distinct ‘clarinet’ sound, some say the most important contributor is the paper-thin piece of cane otherwise known as the reed. Although clarinet reeds come in different strengths and cuts, choosing a good reed is crucial for producing quality sounds and tones. When it comes to purchasing reeds, it’s always a good idea to buy in bulk- that way you won’t be heading to the music store every other week. In most cases, a box of ten clarinet reeds lasts the average player a few weeks, and clarinetists can expect to discard 3-4 reeds from each box. Throw the duds out, and always keep at least three spare clarinet reeds handy at all times.
A Sturdy Case
No professional clarinetist would ever consider traveling to and from their performances or practices without a sturdy case to protect their clarinet. Although there are softer gig bags available on the market, hardshell cases offer the most protection and are recommended for new players. While cases are essential for virtually every instrument, they’re especially important for woodwinds due to their extremely fragile nature. Depending on where you or your child will be traveling with the clarinet, you may wish to consider purchasing a clarinet case with built-in locks. If you’re concerned about airport security, some manufacturers make cases with locks that are TSA-approved. From understanding the different types of cases to keeping room for some of the other accessories on this list, here’s everything you need to know about choosing a clarinet case.
Unless your child has a photographic memory, they’ll need a music stand to hold their music while they play. When it comes to music stands, there are quite a few types to choose from, so we’ll give you our best advice for each situation. If the music stand will mostly be used at home, choose a super solid music stand. Not only will it support the weight of a lot of music, but if you prefer to practice in front of a window or air conditioning vent, it’ll prevent your music from blowing away. If you plan on transporting your music stand to and from lessons, a compact music stand that’s lightweight and easy to collapse and fold is the better choice. If you need something that offers the best of both worlds, there are plenty of sturdy, yet transportable, music stands available on the market.
Last, but not least, you’ll need to pick up some essential cleaning supplies for your clarinet. If you prefer to purchase everything you need in one pack, plenty of top manufacturers have maintenance and cleaning kits that have everything you need to keep your clarinet in tip-top shape. If you prefer to purchase everything separately, here’s the basics: clarinet swabs, cork grease, hole cleaner, a cleaning brush, and a microfiber cloth. Although some clarinetists polish their clarinet with silver polish, some polishes can actually do more harm than good. Until you get a better feel for your clarinet, start out with cleaning it with a microfiber cloth and skip the polishes in general. For more tips and advice on how to clean your clarinet, check out our article on clarinet maintenance.