The clarinet is a wonderful instrument to learn, especially for beginners. Whether you’re interested in classical, jazz, or other types of music, the clarinet has a versatile sound that fits inside any genre. By learning a few clarinet tips, you’ll become a skillful player in no time.
Being part of the woodwind family, the clarinet produces sound when air is blown through a reed. A music educator can help you learn this technique, as well as other tips you’ll need to master in order to play the clarinet. Even if you’ve been playing the clarinet for years, brushing up on these clarinet tips will help you get more from your instrument.
Here are 8 clarinet tips for beginners, intermediate students, and professional musicians:
- Blow Harder
- Don’t Be Afraid of the Mouthpiece
- Use the “C” Hand Position
- Hold Your Clarinet at the Right Angle
- Try Different Reeds for Different Tone
- Practice Makes Perfect
8 Clarinet Tips for All Levels from Beginning to Advanced
Tip #1. Blow Harder
First, blow harder! Many clarinetists, especially when they’re just starting out, don’t use enough air when they play. Although the clarinet is a small instrument, it requires a lot of air to produce the smoothest, clearest tones.
Practice filling your lungs by taking a deep breath into your belly, then use your abdominal muscles to push the air out as forcefully as you can. If you’re not used to forceful breathing, you can develop this muscle memory by practicing throughout the day, without your clarinet.
Tip #2. Don’t Be Afraid of the Mouthpiece
The mouthpiece, also known as the embouchure, is an important part of playing the clarinet. Always make sure you’re using the right technique when you place your mouth against the instrument.
Often, beginning players are too hesitant and don’t place their mouth far enough on the embouchure. Eventually, you’ll figure out the best position for your playing style, but start by placing your top teeth about half an inch down from the tip of the mouthpiece.
Note: When working on your mouth technique, it’s all about finding the sweet spot, so don’t bite too hard on the reed!
Tip #3. Use the “C” Hand Position
When you play the clarinet, you need to keep your hands tight enough to hold the instrument properly, but loose enough to play. One way to ensure you have a comfortable grip is to use a “C” hand position.
As you hold your clarinet, look down at your hands. The curve between your index finger and your thumb should make a broad “C” shape. If this shape is too narrow or angular, adjust accordingly.
Tip #4. Hold Your Clarinet at the Right Angle
The sound of your clarinet should be smooth and clear, not sharp or squeaky. If you find that you’re not producing the best tone, consider the angle of your instrument. You should hold the clarinet comfortably at an angle that’s about 45 degrees from your body.
Also, make sure you’re practicing good posture when you play. Sit up straight so you’re not collapsing your lungs and compressing your airways, but not so straight that you feel rigid or uncomfortable.
Tip #5. Try Different Reeds for Different Tone
As you become a more advanced clarinet player, you’ll want to experiment with different reeds. Clarinet reeds can be made of different materials. They also come in different lengths. As you might imagine, each of these qualities produce different sounds.
Also, when you get a new pack of reeds, some will naturally have a better sound than others. Play the same note on each reed, using the same amount of air, and listen for differences in the tone. Then, choose the clarinet reed you like the best.
Tip #6. Practice Makes Perfect
Finally, as with any musical instrument, practice as much as you can! The more you practice, the sooner you’ll become a master clarinet player. Try to add an extra ten minutes of practice time whenever you can. If you have difficulty motivating yourself, try using a habit app on your phone to remind you.