What Is a Small Clarinet Called?

A small clarinet is called a Piccolo clarinet, which is Italian for “small”, also known as A-flat clarinet. It is very small and is approximately thirteen inches long. It is a very high pitch clarinet.

There are many types of clarinets and the type of clarinet that a person’s purchase boils down to the type of music he or she plays. The A-flat clarinet is an amazing instrument if one is looking for a unique high-pitched melody. Although it was a rare instrument in the past, musicians are slowly embracing it and incorporating it in their work such as in classical music.

History Of The A-Flat Piccolo

The A-flat piccolo clarinet was most commonly used in Italian and Spain Military bands in the first few years of the 20th century. Piccolos were used to play higher notes than those present in the existing instruments. Composers such as Verdi, Bartok, and John Tavener used this clarinet in their music. Initially, the A-flat clarinet had no keys but has now developed into an instrument with keys similar to the form of a flute but half the size. Although this tiny clarinet is rarely produced, there are a few companies that manufacture it today. These companies include Buffet Crampon, Orsi, Leblanc, and Ripamonti.

Parts Of An A-Flat Piccolo

The two main parts of a piccolo are the head joint and the body.

Part Function
Head joint Makes contact with the player’s lips and transmits sound to create vibrations.

Affects the tone, articulation, and projection of the instrument.

Crown Located at the end of the clarinet and it seals the instrument which makes it possible for the air to travel down the piccolo past the keyholes.
Cork It impacts the tune, pitch, and tone of the clarinet.

It prevents air from leaking out.

Keeps the piccolo free from debris.

Lip plate It helps the player form the correct embouchure to produce sound.
Embouchure hole This is the part the player blows over to produce sound.
The body It contains the tone holes which affect the pitch of the instrument when playing
Keys Parts are covered with pads that cover the tone holes which allow the player to change the pitch of the notes.
Rod system The keys activate it to cover and uncover the tone holes to create different pitches.

It is also important to note that the piccolos might have a variation in sound quality, tone, and volume due to the differences in the materials used during manufacturing. Different types of metal can be used to make the head joint. It could also be plastic or wood.

Functions Of An A-Flat Piccolo

The A-flat piccolo has a very high pitch that can be heard over everything else thus distinguishing it from other clarinets. Therefore, it is used in events such as concert bands, military bands, and orchestras due to this unique characteristic. This instrument is also excellent when playing classical music.

Tips For Playing the Piccolo

  • Ensure flexibility, control, and movement of the lips while playing.
  • Taking the time and figuring out the right approach to controlling the sound to avoid extreme loudness.
  • Adequate body and breath support are necessary to achieve and sustain beautiful and softer pitches.

Benefits Of Playing the Piccolo

  • It is small in size and therefore will not take up much space in your practice area. It is also quite easy to carry it around.
  • It is easy to hear. This can pose a challenge at first since it leaves little to no room for error. However, it motivates one to practice more and improve his or her skills.
  • It is fun to play.


The A-flat piccolo is an amazing instrument if one is interested in achieving a unique high-pitched sound when performing for people or organizing an orchestra. Its portability is also a bonus.


Can I play the piccolo if I play the flute?

Yes, playing the flute makes it easier to play the piccolo. However, the piccolo lacks some of the key work present in the flute making its pitch an octave higher.


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.

Leave a Comment