Coventry

Glacier

Husmann

North

Clarinet

Clarinet Playing Position

Good playing position means holding the clarinet correctly with good posture and poise.

Clarinet Breathing Exercises

Our brass and woodwind players need air or "wind" to produce a characteristic tone on their instruments, but even our percussionists can benefit from breathing while they play. In a band or "wind ensemble" like ours, each musician is responsible for breathing at the right time and controlling the release of that airstream for proper phrasing and musical interpretation.

Breathing

  • Place the palm of your hand near your mouth.
  • Keep your shoulders still and take a deep breath.
  • Let your waist expand like a balloon as you fill up with air.

Airstream - "too"

  • Pretend like you're blowing out 40 candles on a cake.
  • Aim for the palm of your hand as you exhale.
  • The air you are blowing onto your hand is called the airstream.
  • Your tongue acts like a valve that releases the air.

EX. 1 - Spray the Garden Hose

  • Smile and make a "thumbs up" sign.
  • Now imagine that you're spraying a garden hose - smile!
  • Cover the nozzle with your thumb and then let go.
  • The water can spray all over the place, but try to control it.
  • Compare your thumb letting out the water to your tongue letting out your airstream.
  • Again, it's your job to control the way you breath and release your airstream.
  • Try five, six, or seven bursts of air in one breath

EX. 2 - Blowing Bubbles

  • Imagine you are blowing bubbles outside.
  • You want four groups of bubbles to float away into the summer breeze.
  • Now, dip the bubble wand and aim high for the sky.
  • Keep your shoulders still and take a deep, gentle breath.
  • Gently release your airstream through the bubble wand.
  • There goes the first group of bubbles - now stop.
  • Without breathing again, release the next group of bubbles.
  • Your tongue will stop for two seconds in between groups.
  • Let the third group of bubbles go, then stop the airstream
  • For the last group, release all the air left over from your breath.
  • Compare blowing bubbles to producing tones on a wind instrument.
  • This idea is great for playing softly or quietly.

EX. 3 - Tongue Twister

  • Say, "Tip of your tongue at the top of your teeth."
  • Imagine you have eyes in the back of your mouth and say it again.
  • "Tip of your tongue at the top of your teeth."
  • Where does your tongue land for every "t" sound?
  • Say it again and again, but think about what you're saying.
  • "Tip of your tongue at the top of your teeth."
  • Start each note with your tongue.
  • "Tip of your tongue at the top of your teeth."

Common Problems with Clarinet

The most common problems occur in equipment, tone quality, and pitch.

Equipment

  • Improper assembly may damage your instrument
  • Damaged equipment will cause problems

Tone Quality

To get the best sound or tone quality you should:

  • Hold your instrument with good posture
  • Play with good breath support, focused airstream, and strong embouchure formation

Pitch

To control pitch you should:

  • Develop good listening skills
  • Practice different notes (positions and combinations)
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