If you want to learn to play the clarinet, the fastest and most promising way to understand how to play better is to find a professional clarinet teacher and take a few lessons. Alternatively, you can try to teach it yourself and emerge one of the most skilled clarinet players in the industry. So, how do you go about it? Read on to find out!
Learning how to play the clarinet without any instructions from a professional teacher may seem very complex, but this isn’t really the case. In fact, it is much simpler then you think. All you need to do is to fully understand the note values, discover how the symbols on a music sheet relate to your right and left hands on the clarinet keys and learn what all the notes mean. Along with that, you need a little more practice to become an expert.
Before all else, what are the notes on a clarinet?
There are two types of clarinets, the A clarinet which is 1 cm longer and the Bb clarinet, which is much shorter. Despite that the two do not look much different from one another; the two clarinets produce different notes. In simpler terms, A is the root note of the scale for the A clarinet, whereas BB is the root note of the scale for the Bb clarinet.
When you play the musical score for the clarinet reading – C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, on an A clarinet, the actual notes that will be played will be A, B, C♯, D, E, F♯, G♯, A. However, when you play the same score on a Bb clarinet, the actual notes will be B♭, C, D, E♭, F, G, A, B♭.
How to read the notes on the clarinet music sheet
The table below summarizes the four main basics that you need to know when learning how to read sheet music. These should help you become an expert clarinet player.
|How to read the notes on a Clarinet
|What to do
|Learn the notes on both the line and the spaces of the staff
|In order to do this, start by observing the clef symbol at the beginning of each staff carefully. In this part, you should be paying attention to the treble clef, which is the most important clef for beginner clarinet players
|For the treble clef, there are 5 lines from the bottom to the top. The lines are: E-G-B-D-F (Mnemonic to help you out- Every Good Boy Does Fine’.
Next, you should learn the word ‘FACE’ to understand the space notes from the bottom to the top. These are: F-A-C-E.
|Go ahead and learn the main dividers of the piece
|Here, you need to acquaint yourself with the basic marks that actively divide the entire piece into sections and various measures
|Look out for the single vertical lines known as bar lines that divide the piece into measures. You should find an ending bar line that is followed by a thick vertical line towards the end of that piece. Note that you may come across some songs that have multiple pairs of closely spaced vertical lines that divide the piece into sections
|Understand the time signature
|You may have come across two numbers stacked one on top of the other at the beginning of each music piece and right after the clef simple. The numbers guide the overall timing of your song in each measure
|The number on the top helps you understand how many beats should be there in one measure. The bottom number, on the other hand, helps you understand the kind of notes that need to be there in every single beat
|Go ahead and learn the notes and the rests
|In this case, Every single note has an oval note head and may include a vertical step.
|What you need to do, is to play and hold notes for differing numbers of beats, based on the different combinations of these particular parts of the notes
What else should you remember when trying to learn the clarinet notes?
The table below summarizes the two main concepts that you also need to remember when learning how to read the clarinet notes.
|How they are represented
|When it happens
|Is represented as a pound sign
|The sharp sign raises the pitch of your musical note half a step.
|When you move the next key to the right on your clarinet or the next fret that is much closer to its body
|Is represented by the lowercase letter ‘B’
|The flat lowers the pitch of your note half a step
|When you move to the first key on the left of your clarinet or the next fret, which is closer to its body
In general, you should always concentrate on every single note change, whether it is denoted by a flat or a sharp sign. More often than not, clarinet players are observed by playing notes down or up one half-step. To emphasize the importance of doing this, a special sign is always placed right in front of the note.
So, when you see a small ‘b’ symbol, then you should play that particular note one half-step down (flat). On the other hand, if you come across a pound symbol, you should play it one half-step up. Once you understand this fully, then it becomes easier to read sheet music.
How do you maintain and improve your Clarinet sheet music reading abilities?
Once you have understood how to read Clarinet sheet music, you need to constantly practice so that you can build muscle memory around your clarinet playing. The whole idea here is not to read sheet music and put it away. You want to learn how to play well enough to join a band practice, get up onstage, and play with other clarinet professionals.
To master the Clarinet music reading skills, therefore, you should do the following:
- Join a band, choir, or orchestra. By doing this, you will always be challenged to sight read a Clarinet music sheet on a regular basis
- Create a regular practice routine and follow it daily. This allows you to warm up your fingers and makes it easier to play a different set of songs when the need arises.
- Watch different YouTube videos whenever you can. By learning from someone else, you can easily improve your music reading and clarinet playing abilities.
- Enroll for a music theory class so that you can understand the concept much better. Also, you can learn from a professional clarinet teacher who will significantly help you close any knowledge gaps and correct your embouchure as you advance.
With enough time, practice, and a great deal of patience, you can develop into a well-skilled clarinet player. Understanding how to read clarinet notes will make your journey towards becoming a professional clarinet player more exiting and as adventurous as it can get.
Are clarinets easy to learn?
Leaning the clarinet is no harder or easier than any other woodwind instrument. Like every other instrument, you will need to slowly learn one note at a time then learn how to join them together before becoming an expert. It does take a while, but with regular practice and patience, you can be a pro.
Why is the clarinet referred to as B Flat?
This is mostly because the clarinet is a Bb instrument, meaning that it sounds one full step lower than the written notes it plays. For example, when you play a C, you will notice that the clarinet sounds a Bb.