Clarinet For Dummies®

Table of Contents


About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Part I: Tuning Up with the Basics

Part II: And a One, and a Two, and a Three: Getting Started

Part III: Above and Beyond: Essential Intermediate Techniques

Part IV: The Part of Tens

Part V: Appendixes

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go From Here

Part I: Tuning Up with the Basics

Chapter 1: So You Want to Play the Clarinet

Overcoming Tone Hole Anxiety

What’s with all the holes?

How ’bout all that metal?

Selecting a Clarinet and Putting it Together

Selecting a clarinet

Some assembly (and maintenance) required

Reading and Understanding Musical Notation

Getting Physical with Your Clarinet

Assuming the proper posture

Learning to breathe — correctly this time

Holding your mouth just right

Delivering fast air

Squeezing out notes by applying a little leverage

Getting your fingers into the action

Transitioning between notes: Slurring, tonguing, and more

Developing a Richer Tone

Recognizing the four ingredients of great tone

Playing loudly, softly, and in between

Adding some special effects: Vibrato, glisses, and bends

Cranking up your tongue and finger speed

Tweaking your clarinet into tune

Perfecting your reed

Mastering the Two P’s: Practice and Performance

Engaging in productive practice

Stepping up on stage

Chapter 2: Getting to Know the Clarinet

A Brief Lesson in Clarinet Anatomy

The business end of the clarinet: The mouthpiece, reed, and ligature

Pitching in to tune your clarinet: The barrel joint

Accommodating your left hand: The upper joint

Relying on your right hand: The lower joint

Ringing in at the far end: The bell

Exploring the Inner Workings of the Clarinet

Getting the vibrations going

Making notes

Grasping the Basic Concepts of Playing the Clarinet

Blowing some hot air

Using the mouth as a plumbing device: The embouchure

Using the clarinet as a lever (so to speak)

Fingering those notes

Appreciating Clarinet Diversity

Piccolo clarinet

E flat clarinet

Soprano clarinets

Basset horn

Alto clarinet

Bass clarinet

Contra bass clarinets

Exploring Two Unique Fingering Systems

The Boehm system

The Oehler system

Chapter 3: Picking the Right Clarinet for You

Looking at Clarinets for Beginners and Beyond

Shaking your piggybank: How much clarinet can you afford?

Starter-uppers (student models)

Step-up (intermediate) models

Conservatory or professional models with not-so-conservative price tags

Sorting Out Material Choices

Saving your pennies with a plastic model

Sticking with the classics: Wooden models

Checking out resin-made (greenline) clarinets

Checking Out the All-Important Mouthpiece

Evaluating mouthpiece characteristics

Getting started with a beginner mouthpiece

Stepping up to professional-quality mouthpieces

Comparing jazz to classical mouthpieces

Wading through the Reeds: The Tone Generators

Reed cuts: Numbers aren’t everything

Beginner reeds

Reeds for more advanced players

Saving Some Dough: Buying Used or Renting

Buying a used clarinet

Renting versus buying

Swapping Out the Barrel or Bell

Barrels: Tubular, dude!

Bells that’ll make your ears ring

Tossing in a Few Accessories

Cleaning cloth

Reed case

Cork grease



Chapter 4: Grasping the Basics of Musical Notation

Reciting the Musical Alphabet

Staffs and clefs: Nothing but treble and bass

Simplifying staffs with ledger lines

Locating Notes on a Piano Keyboard

Pointing out the written notes

Identifying sharps and flats

Getting Keyed Up with Key Signatures

Making exceptions with accidentals

Tuning in to keys and scales

Grooving to the Rhythm

Recognizing a note’s value

Tying notes together

Humming a few bars with bar lines

Tuning in to the beat with time signatures

Accounting for triplets and dotted notes

Taking a breather with rests

Spicing Up the Music with Staccato, Accents, Slurs, and Tenutos

Barking out notes staccato style

Accenting notes for emPHAsis

Slurring your notes

Marking tenutos with a dash

Marking phrases with slurs

Reaching Beyond the Notes

Deciphering dynamic markings

Spotting crescendos and diminuendos

Learning Italian with tempo markings

Following repeat signs and roadmaps

Chapter 5: Assembling, Cleaning, and Caring for Your Clarinet

Assembling Your Clarinet

Assembly tips and tricks

Hands off! Places you should never touch

Attaching the bell to the lower joint

Attaching the lower joint to the upper joint

Attaching the barrel to the upper joint

Attaching the mouthpiece to the barrel

Attaching the reed to the mouthpiece

Cleaning and Storing Your Clarinet

Swabbing condensation

Cleaning the keys

Giving the mouthpiece a bath

Clarinet storage do’s and don’ts

Storing reeds

Protecting that reed and mouthpiece!

Maintaining and Repairing Your Clarinet

Maintaining a brand new clarinet

Taking care of any ol’ clarinet

Finding a good repair technician

Part II: And a One, and a Two, and a Three: Getting Started

Chapter 6: Getting Your Body, Lungs, and Lips in the Game

Taking a Stance: Great Posture for Great Breathing

Straightening your back

Keeping your chin up

Breathing for Your Clarinet

Breathing in . . . deeply

Breathing out . . . completely

Sounding Off with a Mini-Clarinet

Getting small

Giving your clarinet some lip: Proper embouchure

Playing that big band sound: Adjusting the leverage and air

Chapter 7: Playing Your First Notes

Letting Your Fingers Do the Talking

Double-checking your right thumb position

Getting your left hand in the act

Holding your fingers in the right positions

Making O’s and C’s

Don’t let your pinkies droop

Playing Your First Note on the Whole Clarinet

Launching Notes with Your Tongue

Adding More Notes to Your Repertoire

Gimme an F! Gimme a G!

Digging an F sharp and low B flat out of the final two tone holes

Getting all choked up with throat tones

Stringing all those notes together

Chapter 8: Heading Lower, Higher, and In Between

Playing the Pinky Notes

Exploring the low pinky notes

Aiming high: Playing the fifth line F and continuing upward to G, A, B, and C

Playing pinky notes in the staff

Changing Registers: A Tricky Transition

Playing from two places at once: The F sharp to A connection

Keeping the right hand down for register changes

Going Chromatic to Plug the Gaps

Higher chromatic notes for the clarion register

One final fingering

Putting it all together: The whole enchilada

Chapter 9: Playing Between the Notes: Slurring and Tonguing

Getting Connected with Articulation

Slurring to Smooth Transitions

Slurring smooth and steady

Adding accents and intensity crescendos

Mastering the Fine Art of Tonguing

Brushing up on the basics: Aiming for the tip rail

Starting notes: Going on the attack

Separating repeated notes and successive notes that change pitch

Tonguing for response

Tonguing to sing more: Legato tonguing

Adding space between notes staccato style

Mixing Articulation with Slurring and Tonguing

Chapter 10: Rising Above and Beyond High C

Producing the Altissimo Notes

Stepping up to a harder reed

Maintaining correct embouchure

Letting ’er rip with fast air

Meeting More Cousins: The Overtones

Fingering notes C3 sharp above the staff to F4 sharp

Opening one more vent hole for high G

Putting it all together

Improving Finger Coordination with Alternate Fingerings

Chromatic and trill fingerings

Short-skip fingerings

Wide-skip fingerings

Part III: Above and Beyond: Essential Intermediate Techniques

Chapter 11: Achieving a Great Clarinet Tone

The Four Essential Qualities of Great Tone

Producing Great Tone: Step by Step

Cranking up amplitude for increased response and fullness

Gaining leverage over pitch

Adding a dash of color

Focusing your sound

Playing Softly with Good Tone

Chapter 12: Shaking It Up with Vibrato, Glissandos, Bends, and Scoops

Exploring Vibrato’s Roots

Vibrato in jazz: A match made in heaven

Folksy vibrato

Classical vibrato

A contemporary take

Vibrato and you

Giving Your Clarinet a Pulse

Recognizing the two flavors of vibrato

Getting warmed up with jaw vibrato

Opting for glottal vibrato

Jazzing it up

Honoring tradition: Vibrato in classical clarinet

Going Gershwin with Glissandos

Scalar glisses

Smears (also known as slides)

Bending and Scooping Notes

Bending a note

Scooping a note

Chapter 13: Taking Your Fingers to the Next Level: Additional Fingerings

Preventing Pinky Entanglement

Adding Fullness and Resonance to the Throat Tones

Getting a feel for throat tones

Improving your throat tones

Letting Your Fingers Do the Climbing: Rising Above High G

Chapter 14: Turbo Tonguing and Faster Fingering

Gearing Up Your Tongue

Recognizing fast tonguing in musical notation

Maintaining constant air flow

Keeping your tongue relaxed

Grouping tongued notes, syllable style

Limbering Up for Faster Fingering

Pairing notes and fingerings instinctively

Gaining confidence at fast tempos

Undertaking strength training

Developing smooth finger coordination

Pulling it all together

Practicing your fast fingers technique

Chapter 15: Tuning Up for Proper Pitch

Grasping the Concept of Tuning to the Proper Pitch

Warming Up in the Bullpen

Warming the outside first: The ol’ armpit trick

Warming the inside with a low E

Tuning Your Clarinet: Two Methods

Tuning by ear

Using your tuner

Recognizing Your Clarinet’s Pitch Tendencies

Correcting general pitch tendencies

Letting your fingers do the work: Alternate fingerings for problem notes

Tackling Bigger Tuning Problems

Chapter 16: Heading to the Practice Studio

Building a Solid Foundation for Practice

Blocking out some quality time

Structuring your practice sessions

Practicing with a tiny audience

Having some fun, too!

Honing Your Skills and Technique with Exercises and Etudes

Learning by rote with exercises

Gaining concentrated practice with etudes

Sharpening Your Skills with Three More Practice Tips

Slowing down to get better faster

Practicing the opposite extreme

Playing beat-to-beat for fast passages

Additional Resources for Productive Practices

Chapter 17: Refining Your Reeds

Solving the Mystery of Reeds

Examining reed anatomy

Brushing up on reed physiology: Vibration

Recognizing the Necessity of Adjusting Even Good Reeds

Selecting the Most Talented Reeds to Tune Up

Diagnosing a Reed’s Shortcomings

Testing the top of the fulcrum to the tip of the reed

Testing the back of the fulcrum to the beginning of the cut

Confirming or refining your diagnosis . . . before you grab that knife!

Marking adjustments on your reed

Adjusting Your Reed: Scalpel, Please

Following a few simple precautions

Gathering essential tools and materials

Adjusting areas above the fulcrum

Adjusting areas below the back of the fulcrum

Adjusting overly soft reeds at the tip

Revitalizing old, warped reeds

Chapter 18: Gaining Expertise and Exposure through the Clarinet Community

Teaming Up with a Teacher

Sizing up qualities and qualifications

Knowing where to look

Checking recommendations and references

Playing Well with Others in an Ensemble

Considering a school band or orchestra

Exploring new horizons for older players

Checking out the local fare: Community concert bands and orchestras

Joining the choir . . . the clarinet choir

Auditioning for ensembles

Thinking Smaller: Duet Buddies and Accompanists

Finding duet buddies for duets, trios, and quartets

Finding pianists for accompaniment

Overcoming Performance Anxiety

Part IV: The Part of Tens

Chapter 19: Ten Insider Secrets to Great Clarinet Playing

Straighten Your Back

Expand and Control Your Breathing

Work Your Chops

Tongue the Tip of the Reed to the Tip Rail

Tongue Fast with the Letter “D”: Duh!

Arch That Tongue: Hiss Like a Snake

Check Your Rhythmic Pulse

Develop Sneaky Fingers

Play in Tune and on Pitch — Always

Exaggerate the Opposites During Practice

Chapter 20: Ten (Plus) Clarinetists You Gotta Hear

Alessandro Carbonare

Eddie Daniels

Buddy Defranco

Stanley Drucker

Giora Feidman

Jon Manasse

Paul Meyer

Sabine Meyer

Ricardo Morales

Paulo Sergio Santos

Richard Stoltzman

Part V: Appendixes

Appendix A: Fingering Charts

Appendix B: About the CD

Audio CD players

Computer CD-ROM drives

Clarinet For Dummies®

by David Etheridge

with Joe Kraynak


About the Author

David Etheridge is David Ross Boyd Professor of Clarinet, Chair of the Woodwind Area, and a member of the Oklahoma Woodwind Quintet at the University of Oklahoma School of Music. He is also in demand as a recitalist and clinician across the United States and Europe. Etheridge is a former member of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, having performed with them as both Principal Clarinetist and as a member of the clarinet section. Prior to his 35-year tenure at the University of Oklahoma, he served on the faculty of the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, New York, for 9 years. He holds degrees from the University of Colorado and the Eastman School of Music, where he completed his Doctor of Musical Arts in clarinet performance as a student of Stanley Hasty. Etheridge serves regularly on the faculty of the International Clarinet Camp in Hungary. He is also the founder of the internationally acclaimed University of Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium, which is now in its 35th year. His most recent publications include A Practical Approach to the Clarinet for Beginning Clarinetists, A Practical Approach to the Clarinet for Intermediate Clarinetists, the Revised Edition of a Practical Approach to the Clarinet for Advanced Clarinetists, and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto: The Performers’ View. In addition to his David Ross Boyd Distinguished Professorship, his awards include the Amoco Foundation Award for Good Teaching and the University of Oklahoma Regents Award for Superior Teaching.


To my wonderful wife, Cheryl, the love of my life, for her steadfast support of my career over the years and countless hours of assistance on this book. Also, to my parents, Eileen Etheridge and Ellis Etheridge, for the sacrifices they made to make my first clarinet lessons possible, and to my superb teachers, Jack Stevens, Richard Culver, Val P. Henrich, Jerry Neil Smith, and Stanley Hasty for instilling in me a love of teaching.

Author’s Acknowledgments

Thanks to acquisitions editor Michael Lewis, who chose me to author this book and ironed out all the preliminary details to make this book possible.

Tim Gallan, my project editor, deserves a loud cheer for serving as a gifted and patient collaborator and editor — shuffling chapters back and forth, shepherding the text and graphics through production, making sure any technical issues were properly resolved, and serving as the unofficial quality control manager. Christy Pingleton and Krista Hansing, copy editors, earn editor of the year awards for ferreting out my typos, misspellings, grammatical errors, and other language foe paws (or is it faux pas?), in addition to assisting Tim as reader advocate. I also tip my hat to the production crew for doing such an outstanding job of transforming an enormous hodgepodge of text, photos, music, and fingering charts into such an attractive bound book.

I owe very special thanks to wizard wordsmith Joe Kraynak for asking questions to clarify challenging concepts and helping me capture in written form how I actually teach clarinet to eager beginners. I could not have completed this project without his excellent collaboration.

Also, many thanks to Carolyn Rossow for her superb photography; to Jessi Rodgriquez for her excellent modeling: to Patrick Conlon for his terrific music copying; to Leon Smith for his patience and expertise in engineering and recording the CD; to Matt Stock, Christina Giacona, Dr. Brad Benson, and Annette Luyben for their research assistance; to Jim and Kyle Pyne for their assistance with mouthpiece information; and to Glenn Kantor, Dr. Julianne Kirk, and Dr. Michael Raiber for carefully proofreading the manuscript and offering valuable input of their own.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Senior Project Editor: Tim Gallan

Senior Acquisitions Editor: Michael Lewis

Copy Editors: Christine Pingleton, Krista Hansing

Senior Editorial Assistant: David Lutton

Technical Editor: Dianna Davis

Editorial Manager: Michelle Hacker

Editorial Assistants: Jennette ElNaggar, Rachelle S. Amick

Art Coordinator: Alicia B. South

Photographer: Carolyn Rossow

Music Transcriptionist: Patrick Conlon

Cover Photo: © Getty Images / Comstock

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Sheree Montgomery

Layout and Graphics: Nikki Gately, SDJumper

Proofreaders: Melanie Hoffman, Shannon Ramsey

Indexer: Potomac Indexing, LLC

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


The clarinet is a remarkable instrument. With a single reed and only seven tone holes and 17 keys, a typical clarinet can play 48 notes — a pitch range greater than any of its fellow woodwind instruments. Of course, if you do the math, this can get downright scary. Ten fingers, 17 keys, seven holes, 48 notes — they all add up to the fact that, in order to play the clarinet, you need to blow in precisely the right manner while engaging your fingers in some incredibly challenging acrobatics.

Fear not. With a decent clarinet; a good, well-adjusted reed; this book; and a reasonable amount of persistence and practice; you’ll soon be tooting your own horn about the amazing progress you’ve made in such a brief period of time.

About This Book

The late clairvoyant Edgar Cayce claimed he could sleep with a book under his head and wake up the next morning knowing everything it contained. I wish I could tell you that learning to play the clarinet is simply a matter of slipping this book into your pillowcase before dozing off. While I’m afraid it’s not quite that easy, in Clarinet For Dummies, I make it as easy as possible to pick up the clarinet for the first time, start playing it, and quickly improve your sound.

This book covers everything you need to know to play the clarinet, and then play it even better. I guide you in selecting the right clarinet, show you how to put it together, present you with a primer on reading sheet music, and bring you up to speed on the basics of actually playing. I start you off with the very barest of basics and a mini-clarinet — only the mouthpiece and barrel, without all those formidable tone holes and keys — and build from there.

Because the clarinet is a fairly complicated piece of equipment, I present everything you need to know in nibbles, so you can develop the entire skill set required at your own pace. Sprinkled generously throughout the chapters in which you’re actually learning notes, skills, and techniques, are hands-on exercises for experiencing everything you’re learning and improving your retention of it.

To further assist you in developing at your own pace, this book includes parts titles, chapter titles, section headings, and a detailed table of contents and index, making it easy to maneuver through the book and find exactly what you’re looking for.

Conventions Used in This Book

I use several conventions in this book to call your attention to certain items. For example:

Italics highlight new, somewhat technical terms, such as tonguing and glissando, which I follow up with straightforward, easy-to-understand definitions, of course.

Boldface text indicates key words and phrases in bulleted and numbered lists.

Monofont highlights Web and e-mail addresses.

When this book was printed, some Web addresses may have needed to break across two lines of text. If that happened, rest assured that we haven’t put in any extra characters (such as hyphens) to indicate the break. So, when using one of these Web addresses, just type in exactly what you see in this book, pretending as though the line break doesn’t exist.

What You’re Not to Read

You can safely skip anything you see in a gray shaded box. We stuck this material in a box (actually called a sidebar) for the same reason that most people stick stuff in boxes — to get it out of the way, so you won’t trip over it. However, you may find the brief asides in the sidebars engaging, entertaining, and perhaps even mildly informative.

Foolish Assumptions

In writing this book, I made a few foolish assumptions, mostly about your motivation and how much you already know about music in general and playing the clarinet:

You have a strong desire to play the clarinet for whatever reason. Maybe you think it looks awesome, sounds incredible, or your parents are pushing you to join the band and you want an instrument they know absolutely nothing about. The reason doesn’t matter, but you want to play badly enough to read this book and invest a reasonable amount of time and effort in practice.

Although you may have had some music lessons, can read sheet music, and possibly even know how to play some other musical instrument, I’m working on the assumption that you’re a rank beginner, a blank slate.

Even though you may have a band director or music teacher, I’m assuming you’re a do-it-yourselfer, a lone wolf picking up the clarinet with only this book as your guide.

You have a clarinet, some money to buy or rent one, or someone who can provide you with a clarinet. In other words, you have a clarinet or you’re going to get one soon.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is organized to facilitate two ways of using it: You can read it from cover-to-cover, which is what I recommend, or skip around to only those parts, chapters, or sections that capture your current fancy or serve your present needs. I’ve been teaching the clarinet for 45 years and playing it for 60 years and have developed my own unique approach that has been very successful for my students. This book follows that approach, presenting what you need to know in the order that tends to be most effective.

As you soon discover, however, developing the skills required for playing the clarinet and playing it well is not always a linear path. While learning new notes or techniques, you often must skip back to review what you thought you already knew. This book is optimized for skipping around to find exactly what you need whenever you happen to need it.

To further assist you in navigating the contents, I took the 20 chapters and two appendixes that comprise the book and divvied them up into five parts. The following sections provide a quick overview of what’s covered in each part.

Part I: Tuning Up with the Basics

You can pick up a clarinet, slap it together, and start honking like a mad goose in a matter of minutes. To sound like you know what you’re doing, however, you must establish a firm foundation. That’s what this part is all about.

Chapter 1 gets you up to speed in a hurry, touching on all the key topics throughout the book, so you can wrap your brain around everything involved. The remaining chapters introduce the various types of clarinets, identify the parts of a clarinet, explain the fundamental physics of how the clarinet produces notes, guide you in choosing the right clarinet and putting it together, and show you how to read sheet music.

By the end of this part, the stage is set for the concert to commence.

Part II: And a One, and a Two, and a Three: Getting Started

In this part, you actually begin to play your clarinet. I start you out slowly by paring down the clarinet to the dimensions of an oversized duck call, so you can focus exclusively on the mouthpiece and reed, which team up to produce the raw sound. The focus here is on posture, breathing, and embouchure — how you form the parts of your mouth to deliver air as directly at the reed as possible.

Assuming you can coax some sounds out of the shortened clarinet, you’re ready to piece together the rest of your instrument and get your fingers in the act. The remaining chapters in this part introduce a few basic notes; show you how to articulate notes to give them more definition; and add more notes to your repertoire, so you can play higher, lower, in between, and even above high C.

Part III: Above and Beyond: Essential Intermediate Techniques

A comedian can have the best jokes, but if his delivery is lousy, he’s just not funny. This part starts with the foolish assumption that you can play most of the notes, but you’re not yet ready to wow the audience with your very first clarinet solo.

The chapters in this part assist you in developing skills and techniques for refining your clarinet sound with fullness, color, and focus. I show you how to reach high and hit the top notes, tune up for the proper pitch, develop faster tonguing and fingering techniques, make your practice sessions more productive, produce some very cool special effects, and tweak your reed for optimum performance and sound.

This part also encourages you to take your clarinet playing to the next level by seeking guidance from an experienced teacher and getting involved in your local music community. The goal here is to play before live audiences as part of an ensemble or even as a solo performer. I offer some leads on where you can find performance opportunities and provide insight on how to overcome any lingering stage fright you may have.

Part IV: The Part of Tens

Every For Dummies book includes a Part of Tens — two to four chapters, each containing ten bite-sized, easily-digestible tips, tricks, or insights. Here I offer ten inside tips on how to improve your technique, and I name ten A-list clarinetists, past and present, who may help inspire you and influence your technique.

Part V: Appendixes

Tacked on to the end of this book, just before the index, are two appendixes (or “appendices,” depending on which side of the track you happen to live on). One contains fingering charts, so your fingers know where they need to be to play each note. The other contains a list of everything on the CD.

Icons Used in This Book

Throughout this book, you’ll spot icons in the margins that call your attention to different types of information. Here are the icons you’ll see and a brief description of each.

remember.eps Everything in this book is important (except for the stuff in the shaded boxes), but some information is even more important. When you see this icon, read the text next to it not once but two or three times to tattoo it on your cranium.

tip.eps Tips provide insider insight from behind the scenes. When you’re looking for a better, faster, safer, and/or cheaper way to do something, check out these tips.

warning_bomb.eps This icon appears when you need to be extra vigilant or seek professional help before moving forward. Don’t skip this important information — I’m warning you.

technicalstuff.eps When you encounter the clarinet for the first time, you need to learn two new languages — the language of music and that of the parts, techniques, and concepts related to the clarinet. Whenever I explain something highly technical, which I do only on rare occasions, I flag it with this icon, so you know what’s coming.

onthecd.eps This icon indicates that a particular lesson or piece of music is on the accompanying CD for you to listen to.

Where to Go From Here

Clarinet For Dummies is designed to take beginners from ground zero upward to an intermediate level of play, but if you already know a few things, you don’t have to start right at the beginning.

For the big-picture view of all that’s involved, check out Chapter 1. If you don’t have a clarinet to play, head to Chapters 2 and especially 3 for guidance in making the right selection. Can’t read music? Head to Chapter 4. If your clarinet is sitting there all in pieces, Chapter 5 can help.

Chapter 6 is critical in establishing and maintaining proper embouchure, and Chapter 7 gets you started playing your very first notes. From there, the field is wide open. Forge ahead chapter by chapter or skip around to your heart’s delight.

And don’t forget to have fun. Enjoying music is just as important as playing it.

Part I

Tuning Up with the Basics

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In this part . . .

You can pick up any instrument and start playing it. Little kids do it all the time. They bang on the piano keys, strum the guitar, pound on the drums, blow into a trumpet or harmonica, you name it. Such an approach, however, can be counterproductive, resulting in a damaged instrument, the acquisition of bad habits, and time-consuming trial by error.

A better approach is to brush up on the basics first. By grasping the fundamentals, starting with the right clarinet, knowing how to read music, and knowing how to handle and care for your clarinet, you learn how to play much more efficiently without risking unnecessary damage to your clarinet.

Consider the chapters in this part your warm-up exercises. Here, I bring you up to speed on the basics; help you pick the right clarinet for your needs; show you how to read music; and reveal the proper techniques for assembling, cleaning, and caring for your clarinet.