The clarinet is not a difficult instrument to learn. It just requires time and effort to learn just like other instruments.
As music enthusiasts, life would be so much easier if we were born known knowing how to play instruments. Better yet automatically know how to read musical notes as soon as we open the books. But this is a skill that we need to develop over time for us to become pros at it. Even for instruments as small as the clarinet, we need to put in the work to learn how to play them. I have been playing the clarinet for some time now and many people often ask if it is hard to play it. For anyone interested in learning how to play the clarinet, let’s go over the basics of the instrument.
As a beginner, the first step would be to know the parts of the clarinet and the function of each part. Below is a table to guide you on some of the essential parts of a clarinet and its functions.
|The Mouthpiece||It is the part through which the player blows air into the clarinet. It can be made from rubber, plastic, ivory, metal, wood, or glass.|
|The Reed||The reed is made from a bamboo cane. It is placed on the mouthpiece and vibrates when blown to produce sound.|
|The Ligature||It secures the reed to the mouthpiece. It is adjustable to ensure that the reed is in the correct position. It can be made from metal, plastic, leather, or string.|
|The Barrel||It connects the mouthpiece to the upper joint and funnels the air through the clarinet.|
|Tone holes and keys||These are open and closed while playing to produce different pitches of notes|
|The Bell||It is where the sound is projected from. It also directs air and stabilizes the tone for specific ranges.|
Skills needed to play the clarinet
Clarinet belongs to the woodwind clan of instruments therefore the first thing to do when you get a hold of the clarinet is to blow it right? But there is much more that goes into playing this instrument. Let’s look at what playing the clarinet entails other than just blowing air into it:
It is advisable to learn how to read music before learning how to play the clarinet. However, you can still learn how to read music while learning how to play the instrument but this will take longer. It might be a bit difficult translating the music on the page to clarinet fingerings but if you take the time to study each one, you will see progress.
Embouchure and Posture
Embouchure simply refers to how a player uses the muscles of the mouth to play a wind instrument, such as the clarinet. Embouchure techniques vary from one instrument to another. While playing the clarinet, maintaining the proper embouchure will ensure that the quality of the sound produced is good. It is best to learn how to do it right from the beginning. This allows you to become used to the techniques and prevent bad embouchure habits that may be difficult to correct later.
The right strength and speed of air are needed when playing the clarinet to produce a nice sound. Regularly performing long-tone breathing exercises will help you build up adequate strength and quality of your air supply.
How to play the clarinet?
- Assembly the clarinet. Learning how to properly assemble the clarinet is key in ensuring your clarinet produces good sound. All the parts of the clarinet such as the reed and the mouthpiece have a specific way in which they need to be assembled therefore one needs to read the manual carefully.
- Hold your clarinet properly. A clarinet player needs to have a natural hold on the clarinet. This can be achieved by relaxing your shoulders and rounding your fingers to hold it.
- Place your mouth on the mouthpiece by making sure you are using the appropriate embouchure technique. Position our mouth well and make a perfect seal around the mouthpiece.
- Blow the clarinet to create sound. Contrary to popular belief, simply blowing into the clarinet will not guarantee that a good sound will be produced. To produce good sound, blow the clarinet facing straight forward, and don’t puff your cheeks out. As you blow, do not put too much or too little of your mouth on the mouthpiece since this might distort the sound. The angle at which you hold the clarinet is also important.
- Practice fingering. Once you figure out how to hold the clarinet properly and produce the sound you can proceed to play with the fingerings by reading the notes.
Why play the clarinet?
When you think of musical instruments, I doubt the clarinet is the first instrument that comes to mind. We think drums, guitar, or piano right? Well, the clarinet is also an amazing instrument and it will be worth your time. Here are some of the reasons why I advocate for the clarinet.
- It is great for beginners and children. If you have never played an instrument before, the clarinet is a great choice since it is easy to learn and handle. This also makes it perfect for kids. Of course, every instrument has its complex elements like tone and tuning but the clarinet’s concepts are easy to grasp.
- There are different types of clarinets. There are different types of clarinets such as the bass clarinet or the contralto clarinet. You have the freedom to choose which clarinet works best for you.
- It is affordable. The clarinet is one of the most affordable instruments. A clarinet can also serve you for years and requires little maintenance cost.
- It is portable. You can easily carry your clarinet from place to place. This makes it ideal for young learners.
- It improves your coordination and motor skills. Hand, mouth, eye, and ear coordination is required when playing. For young players, these well-developed motor skills can be used in other areas of life.
The clarinet is a generally easy instrument to learn. Just dedicate time and effort to it and you will become a pro.
Can kids learn to play the clarinet?
Yes, kids can learn to play the clarinet quite easily.
How long does it take to learn to play the clarinet?
With regular practice, you can learn how to play the clarinet within two years.
Is the clarinet harder to learn than the flute?
No, the clarinet is generally considered to be easier to learn than the flute.