Like many woodwind and brass instruments, one of the benefits of learning the clarinet is the fact it can improve your fitness and health as it requires that you have full lung capacity and is one of the most important skills when playing a woodwind instrument.
In addition to enjoying its sonorous sound, you can enjoy learning a wide range of musical styles from jazz and classical to blues and pop. Some people use the clarinet as an entry level instrument to other wood and brass like saxophone for example – the fingering/notes are different but once you have mastered one it isn’t too difficult to go to the other. The saxophone is bigger and heavier, and this is often why children who want to learn the saxophone will start with the clarinet. You can move between the two quite easily as they use the same technique to get a sound out.
Is it easy to learn the clarinet?
The clarinet is no more difficult or easier than any other orchestral instrument that a beginner may learn. Once you have learned how to use the mouthpiece, and how hard (or not) to blow, you will get a sound and your journey will begin. Your clarinet will not work without a reed. The clarinet is a reed instrument, and this allows the air to travel through the clarinet and enable the vibration of air to produce a sound. It is usual to start on a 1.5 reed and progress to a 2 and then 2.5 as your competence improves. The number refers to the thickness of the reed and the higher the number, the thicker the reed, and the harder to play.
The lower numbered reeds are more suitable for beginners and are thinner. This makes it easier to get a sound out as they haven’t got the resistance of a thicker reed. As the player progresses, they will move up in half measurements. The harder, or thicker, reed gives a better tone and makes the higher notes easier to reach.
How many types of clarinet are there?
There are over ten types of clarinet. The common clarinet is the Bb clarinet and apart from young students using the Nuvo clarinet everyone will start on the Bb. Other clarinets include the Eb which is about half the size of a Bb and then going to larger, bass clarinets.
A good student model clarinet is available from Yamaha but worth looking at too are Buffet Crampon and Jupiter. They are all built well and give the beginner a very good, solid start when learning. A decent student clarinet will cost anything from £400.00 and it is important that you invest in a decent clarinet as the cheaper, less well-known brands are not built properly and will hinder progress.
Is playing the clarinet bad for your teeth?
Most of the problems experienced by musicians who play the saxophone or clarinet come about as they will put a lot of pressure on the lower lip and the teeth to support the weight of the saxophone/clarinet. It’s really a question of common sense and not overdoing it!