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Back to Basics: Embouchure, Part 1

Forming a correct Clarinet Embouchure can be a challenge to achieve. It is complex and can be difficult to understand. It is the single most important thing that you need to accomplish to become a fine clarinetist, but more importantly, to become a clarinetist that other people want to listen to!

An incorrect embouchure will result in multiple problems. You may have experienced some or all of these:

  • Frequent squeaks
  • Stuffy sound
  • Poor intonation (cannot hold correct pitch)
  • Bright, edgy, or “screechy” sound in the upper register
  • Inability to play in the upper (clarion) register
  • Thin sound
  • Unfocused tone (possibly big and loud, but too open, “wild,” or uncharacteristic sound)
  • Much trouble crossing the “break”
  • Poor, inconsistent articulation or difficulty tonguing in general
  • A “scooping” sound when tonguing
  • Air leaking (hissing from corners of mouth)
  • Overly sore bottom lip (from teeth cutting in)
  • Jaw pain

Continue reading “Back to Basics: Embouchure, Part 1”

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Technically Speaking: Fork keys

At some point, you may have looked at your clarinet and wondered, “what’s that key for?”

I know I did, and I was not afraid to explore my instrument (you shouldn’t be either).

I think the keys on the clarinet that are most neglected by young clarinetists are the “fork” keys. IMG_0457

You may have heard them called other things, like the “sliver” keys or even “banana” keys. (If you still have no idea what I’m talking about, the photo here should be of some help).

Whatever you call them, I’d like to make sure you understand when using these keys is best. I will call them the fork keys. Continue reading “Technically Speaking: Fork keys”

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Technically Speaking: Pinky keys

Those pinky keys! Why do they give us so much trouble?

I have some tips for both students and teachers to help remember and/or instruct quickly and efficiently.

First and foremost: STUDENTS, Know what your clarinet sounds like and feels like. Experiment. Just wiggle your pinkies around on the keys and get used to the feel and sound of them.

Let’s start with the right hand pinky stack.Lower Pinky Stack

You should notice that this is the view similar to what you would have if you were holding the clarinet in playing position. I’ve numbered the keys for reference purposes.

Breakdown:
Key 1: Ab/Eb
Key 2: F/C
Key 3: F#/C#
Key 4: E/B

Continue reading “Technically Speaking: Pinky keys”

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Creating Characteristic Clarinet Tone

Creating that perfect sound on your clarinet. It’s what every clarinetist wants, right? With the most complex embouchure of all the wind instruments (I know because I play them all!), there are so many factors that can affect your tone quality.

Let’s talk about basics.

What does a characteristic clarinet tone sound like?

If you don’t know, you can’t possibly create that sound! Continue reading “Creating Characteristic Clarinet Tone”

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Welcome!

Interested in improving your music reading and performance skills?

Are you looking for a specific piece of clarinet music?

Maybe you’re searching for a specific type of clarinet music?

How about something new?

Are you shopping for music within your playing level?

Perhaps you would just like some tips on becoming better at the clarinet?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are in the right place!

My goal is to provide you with relevant information to assist you in finding the right clarinet music to suit your needs or interests. I have included other helpful information to guide you in the right direction as well.  I am open to feedback, so feel free to post a comment below or you can email me your questions or concerns at erika@clarinetshopper.com