How to hold a clarinet? (Beginner’s tips and Simple Step by Step Guide)

Holding the clarinet is the first step in learning how to play the clarinet. The left hand controls the upper part of clarinet while the lower part is managed by the right hand.

Just like any other musical instrument, the clarinet comes in different sizes each having a certain pitch. A clarinet is not any different from other instruments in terms of whether it is hard to play or not. How a person practices right from the beginning plays a big role in making the experience of playing it easy. Many beginners find themselves in a hard place making a choice between a flute and a clarinet mainly because there are many comparisons made between the two.

As a beginner learning how to hold any instrument is very essential, in this case learning how a clarinet is held is the first step in getting to know how it is played. The right hand and the left hand have different placements on the instrument, it is important not to confuse the two. As a beginner you should learn the posture and the angle at which one should be playing the instrument. Learning these will make the exercise of playing the clarinet seem so effortless.

The left hand placement

As a beginner it is important to note that the left hand has an important role in playing the clarinet. This instrument is divided in two: the upper part and the lower part. Each part is played by specific hand side. The left hand is responsible for the upper joint of the clarinet.

The left thumb goes under the clarinet, it covers the hole at the back. Then the first, second and third fingers will cover the three holes on the upper part of the clarinet. While doing this, make your placement of the fingers on the holes firm but not so strong or tight. Allow for room to be able to move your fingers while getting the different notes. Be firm at the same time flexible.

The right hand placement

Now that you have learnt how to place your left hand on the clarinet, next is the right hand. Learning how to position the right hand will get you playing the clarinet much faster and having a flow with it. As mentioned earlier, the clarinet has two parts, the right hand is in charge of the lower part. If you memorize this you’ll encounter very little confusion.

Similar to the left hand positioning, the right hand is placed on the under part of the clarinet. You can simply do this, as your right hand is naturally placed beside your thigh now lift it and form a backward letter ‘C’. Which if you place it in between the lower part of the clarinet, the right thumb will automatically go to the back while the first, second and third fingers will cover the three lower holes. On the back at the lower part of the clarinet, there is a hook. The thumb should be placed under this hook which offers support to holding the clarinet.

Summary of the hand placement
Left hand placement Right hand placement
In charge of upper part of the clarinet. In charge of the lower part of the clarinet.
The left thumb goes at the back of the upper part of clarinet. The right thumb goes at the back of the lower part of the clarinet.
The thumb covers the hole at the back of the upper part. The right hand rests under the hook on the lower part of the clarinet.
The first, second and third fingers of the left hand cover the holes on the upper part of the clarinet. The first, second and third fingers cover the holes on the lower part of the clarinet.


Now that you have mastered how to place the left and the right hand the next step is to learn how to position your body. Posture is very important when playing any instrument sitting or standing in the wrong posture might negatively affect the quality of sound you produce. The posture directly affects the breathing which affects the sound.

When playing the clarinet, your back posture should be upright, no bends or slumping. If you are sitting, make sure you are sitting upright with your feet positioned at 90° on the ground. Don’t cross your feet. If you are standing your back should be upright so as your lower part of the body. Keeping an upright posture while playing maximizes your lungs to their maximum capacity.

Angle while playing

Lastly, as beginner it is vital to master the angle at which you will play the clarinet with. With the knowledge of how to position your clarinet you should hold it in a way that seems parallel to the upper part of your body. Bring it closer to your body opposed to you bending to it. Your arms should be almost at an angle of 90°. Remember be relaxed and flexible.


The clarinet is one of the easiest instruments to play. For a beginner it is important to know how to first hold it before going ahead to learn how to play it. Following the steps mentioned above: left and right hand placement, posture and angle while playing this guarantees a smooth learning process. These steps are an easier way of getting the process right. When doing this one should not forget to be at ease, not rigid and be flexible.


Is it hard to play the clarinet?

It is no different from other instruments. It is beginner friendly. Which means it is not hard, all it takes is practice.

Is a clarinet easier to play than a flute?

Both are wind instruments which explains the comparison between the two. Learning how to play either one of the two will make it easy to learn the other. However each has some specific techniques that make playing them challenging. Therefore there is no telling apart which is easier or harder.

Charlotte Moore is a Clarinetist by profession and has over time offered lessons on how to play the clarinet among other musical instruments. And while a majority of clarinet players are well versed with the process of settling with a good clarinet among other accompanying features. There is little information about clarinets. The reason why Charlotte prepared comprehensive experts touching on the various facets of the clarinet. The consolidated information will offer more insight on everything clarinets including the best stand to use, and the best plastic clarinet that you can invest in, among other information. Charlotte Moore is a devoted mother of two and a professional clarinet player.

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