10 common clarinet fixes - STATE Summer Symposium
I M P RO V E
S tat e
Di recto rs
S E CT I O N
Sy m p o s i u m
Equipment REALLY can help your students perform at a higher level.
Even the beginning clarinetist will be more successful on good equipment.
My favorite beginner clarinet is Buffet E11 or B12
Yamaha has a great beginner clarinet (small case too!)
Mouthpieces: Yamaha stock mouthpieces are decent
My favorite is the Woodwind G8 (under $20)
Hite, Forbes, and Vandoren are also great the price
New product great for young students
Vandoren: Great for advancing students
Many choices.....Vandoren, Bonade inverted, Rovner,
Juno is coming out with a decent plastic inverted ligature!
*******Small things to make the job easier........mouthpiece patch and thumb rest cushion.*******
Advanced High School Clarinetists
I recommend the following to my advanced clarinet students/
Vandoren 3-4. (Depends on mouthpiece, air and student)
There are many to choose from. My personal favorite
is the Vandoren M/O or a optimum. I have students that
love the Rovner. Many to choose from.
My students play on McClune, Hawkins, Vandoren, and a few
others that turn up.
Buffet R13 (make sure a clarinet player helps choose!)
Avoid stock ligatures.
Make sure the ligature is on correctly
Screws will always line up on the right hand side
Reed is lined up correctly
Ligature is just below reed edge
Make sure it is not too tight
Make sure that the screws are on it!
Should be a quality reed!
One reed does not fit all!
Store reeds in a reed holder (not
Rotate at least four reeds (at
the one they come in!)
least 4 GOOD reeds in the rotation)
Every reed should be broken in so it lasts longer
Check students reeds-they will play some interesting reeds
Make sure it is centered with only a sliver showing
above the reed. When they are too high, too low or off
center they will be stuffy and hard to blow!
Fast air that has a reed that can hold up and make a good sound! Students will NOT get
a great clarinet tone if they don’t use fast air................ever!
Some methods I utilize to help students use faster and supported air are:
-Demonstrate with breathing exercises
-the belt trick
Firm/flat chin (Biggest visible problem)
think “wee too”
pretend you are putting on chapstick
pretend you are sucking on a lemon
Teeth on the mouthpiece
Proper amount of mouthpiece in mouth
Students tend to put in too little and bite.
Check by slipping paper between mouthpiece and reed.
and draw a line on their reed.
Bottom lip flat
Beginning student with puffy
cheeks, head down, lower lip
floppy. Typical problems for
a very young player.
High school student who is
struggling to grip clarinet.
Look at the looseness of
his jaw, bottom lip and
Advanced high school all-state
honor band player. Note the firm
chin and corners. She is also using
her top lip to help grip the clarinet.
*Good hand position is essential to becoming a more advanced clarinetist. Watch
Right hand thumb
Crunched right hand
*Neck straps help the beginning and young student form the correct hand
position. They can also aid the more advanced student if they have to “relearn”
Problems you might hear but can’t see
Student plays with a flat, dull or spread tone:
Mouthpiece may not be firm against the top teeth
you can gently move it while they are playing they need to
be more firm with their teeth on the mouthpiece)
Loose top lip
(They need to firm it up-push gently down against mouthpiece)
Tongue too low
(Think the syllable “hee” I think “thee” when tonguing)
The syllable “tah” puts the tongue too low in the mouth)
Air speed too slow
(What ever it takes to get them to blow with fast air!)
Reed is too soft
(Get a new one - most of us don’t have time to trim them!)
Other common issues
Try more mouthpiece
Reed might be too soft
The student is “biting” and restricting air flow
Check reed and ligature placement
Use faster air
Check if the reed is too hard
High squeak: Too much mouthpiece
Overblowing-think about steady stream rather than a blast
Ligature loose or crooked
Lower lip is too “fat”
Playing sharp:Many of the mouthpieces are pitched to 442. Often
biting is the culprit.
A good reed/mouthpiece/ligature
will help student play better in tune.
Keep it simple.
Think the word “thee” it helps the tip of the tongue touch the
tip of the reed. Students often lose every good habit previously developed when they
begin to tongue!
Using the word “toh” or “tah” will confuse students.
The tongue will strike too low on the reed.
Common articulation problems:
Keep the tongue high and forward and move only the tip. Most problems happen
because the entire tongue is moving.
The tongue is too low on the reed. Make sure the tip of the tongue is striking the
the tip of the reed.
Very visible. Long tones and tonguing exercises will help this at every level.
Not beginning a phrase with the tongue:
Insist on strong articulation.
Clarinet Pinkie and Alternate Fingerings
Make sure they are alternating left and right hand fingerings. Not using the
correct fingerings will cause their technique to be sloppy and uneven. This goes for
alternate fingerings as well.
You can help them learn those fingerings by showing them how the tension on the
side keys works together.
Insist on the chromatic fingerings when they are learning their chromatic scale.
The Art of Clarinet Playing
The Educators Guide to the Clarinet
So You Want to Play Clarinet (I & 2)
My First Klose
(excellent for 2nd/3rd year players)
Klose/ed. Daniel Schmidt
(Student friendly website)
Clarinet and Technology
There’s an app for clarinet too!
Clarinet in Reach