The clarinet, a member of the woodwind family, is a single reed instrument. It is usually associated with orchestral music but is also a signature jazz instrument. As well as this, you can also find the clarinet in wind and show bands. There is a multitude of music available in a huge range of styles making it a very flexible instrument to learn.
Some better known members of the clarinet family are the: “Eb” clarinet, “A” clarinet and the Bass clarinet. These are all usually seen most in an orchestral/wind band setting.
There is no minimum age to start playing the clarinet but for smaller children it can prove to be a little heavy and a stretch for small hands. For children who are not quite big enough to learn the clarinet yet, there is a smaller plastic clarinet, named the “Clarinéo”, available to learn on. It is a smaller, lighter version of the clarinet suitable for Grades 1 to 3 designed by a professional clarinettist. Please enquire further is this is something you might be interested in.
Once you have reached Grade 3 level or so, it is quite common to move on to the saxophone. If you think you might like to play both, it’s suggested that the transition from clarinet to saxophone is easier than the other way round. Once you have learnt one instrument, you should find you quickly pick up another, as the fingering within the woodwind family is very similar (but not the same!). In advanced settings, it is possible to have “Reed” parts within bands that require you to play clarinet, saxophone and flute.
Clarinets, like all reed instruments require a regular supply of reeds. These come in different strengths and sizes. When you start you may start with a softer reed strength e.g. 1½ and gradually move up as you improve; your teacher should advise you on this. Some reputable reed brands include Rico and Vandoren.
You should use a pull through after playing to remove excess moisture – especially if you have a wooden clarinet. You should also be supplied with cork grease to (sparingly) apply to the corks to prevent stiffness when assembling the instrument.
When you buy your first clarinet, it is usually recommended to go for a cheaper student model that will last you up until Grade 3+. These usually start around £150 but the more you spend, the longer the clarinet will last before an upgrade. It is always best to speak to a player before purchasing a clarinet but some reputable brands include:
There are also rent to buy schemes available as well as purchasing outright.
If you are buying a second-hand instrument, try to make sure you know exactly what you are buying e.g. the condition/playability of the clarinet. It is advised to go with a known brand when purchasing your first instrument; cheaper and second-hand instruments are often harder to sell on.
Please get in contact to discuss any enquiries you may have.