• Let’s talk about reed rotation

    What is reed rotation and why is it important? Reed rotation is just what it sounds like – rotating the reeds you use when you practice or perform so that they all break in evenly. As a reed player, rotating your reeds is one of the simplest things you can do that will yield more consistent reeds and extend the lifespan of your reeds. Reed rotation is important because it provides you with more reed options in any given musical situation. If you rotate your reeds, you will have several good reeds in your case at a time, as opposed to one good reed which might vary from day to…

  • How to assemble a clarinet

    The clarinet certainly does have its fair share of pieces, equipment, and accessories. Here’s everything you need to know to properly assemble your clarinet: Parts of a clarinet from top to bottom Mouthpiece (with ligature and reed) Barrel Upper joint Lower joint Bell Steps to assembling a clarinet Lay the case on a stable, flat surface and ensure that the case is not upside down before opening Attach the bell to the lower joint, being careful not to press any keys (silver parts) Attach the upper joint to the lower joint, being careful to not press any keys with excess pressure Make sure the bridge key is aligned (this connects…

  • How to break in a new clarinet

    If you are the proud owner of a new clarinet, congratulations! I wish you and your new clarinet a happy future filled with many wonderful musical memories. To increase the longevity and quality of your clarinet, here are a few tips to help you properly break in your new clarinet: Is it a plastic clarinet? If so, you don’t have to follow any formal break-in process. Break in processes are only necessary for wooden instruments to help the material adjust to its new environment. Is your wooden clarinet used? Hopefully, its previous owner already broke in the clarinet, but it never hurts to break it in if you aren’t sure…

  • Should clarinetists use a neck strap?

    Chances are, if you’re a clarinetist (especially one who watches videos of other clarinetists on YouTube or social media), you’ve probably seen comments regarding someone’s decision whether or not to use a neck strap. So, should clarinetists be using neck straps? Are neck straps a sign of weakness (as I’ve seen many comments suggesting)? Spoiler alert: Each clarinetist gets to form their personal opinion about whether or not they choose to use a neck strap. Here are a few things to consider before making (or re-evaluating) your choice: Have you ever experienced upper extremity pain while practicing? Many clarinetists have chosen to use a neck strap to alleviate pain resulting…

  • Let’s Talk About Ligatures: The Complete Guide

    For such a simple piece of clarinet equipment, there certainly are quite a few options! Let’s talk about ligatures for a bit. Sometimes, they’re overshadowed by the almighty mouthpiece (for good reason – we’ll discuss mouthpieces in another blog post). While the humble clarinet ligature may be tiny, it’s absolutely essential for clarinetists, even beyond its primary function of holding the reed on the mouthpiece. Before we get into the specifics, it’s time to dispel a common myth – ligatures absolutely make a difference in your sound and response. Many clarinetists believe that ligatures won’t make a discernible difference in sound, but this isn’t the case. Although ligatures will not…

  • The Vegan Clarinet

    A few years ago, I was talking to someone at a clarinet conference when they began discussing their search for vegan clarinet products. Even though I’ve been a vegetarian since 2004, I had never before considered this subject. According to Forbes, the number of people pursuing a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle is increasing. Even though vegans and vegetarians still comprise just a small percentage of the total population, there is an increased demand for eco-friendly products and transparency for ingredients and manufacturing methods. The clarinet is not naturally vegan, but it’s very easy to switch products and make adjustments to create a vegan clarinet. (And before anyone can beat me…

  • How to store your reeds to optimize performance and longevity

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve been hearing reed complaints from several of my clarinet students and friends from around the world. Specific problems have run the gamut – warpage, inconsistency, fluctuations in resistance – you name it, and someone has complained about it. Despite the wide variety of reed problems it seems everyone has been experiencing, there is crucial step all reed players must take to protect their reeds – proper storage. Think of it like this – reeds are essentially plants. Like most other plants, reed cane (Arundo donax if you want to be more scientific) does not like being exposed to drastic changes in environment. Just like…

  • Playing Clarinet with Asthma

    Clarinetists know that one of the most important elements of clarinet-playing is, well….air. So, what can asthmatic clarinetists do to overcome respiratory difficulties when playing the clarinet? Asthma doesn’t have to stand in the way of your clarinet goals! The good news is that many studies have shown that playing a wind instrument “has the potential of being a long-term therapeutic agent for asthmatics” (you can read a few studies here and here). Here is some advice for clarinetists suffering from asthma to maximize their respiratory potential: DISCLAIMER: I am a clarinetist – not a qualified medical expert. Please consult your doctor before incorporating any of these into your practice routine.…

  • Why Am I Squeaking? A Troubleshooting Guide for Clarinetists

    To anyone just starting out on their clarinet journey (and even to some seasoned professionals), there is nothing worse than a squeak.  The horror, the shame, the embarrassment, the humiliation! The good news is that you’re in good company – squeaks are part of the growth process for clarinetists, and we have all squeaked (many times!) throughout our clarinet careers. Squeaks are quite common and can usually be corrected with a few simple fixes. Here are a few troubleshooting tips to help you figure out why you’re squeaking and how you can stop: Too much air at once. The clarinet requires a lot of air, but if you use too…

  • How to Identify Counterfeit Clarinet Equipment

    In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of counterfeit musical instruments and accessories on the market. With the ease of online shopping, musicians can research a variety of options, compare prices, and read reviews. The downside to this is that many consumers unintentionally fall victim to purchasing counterfeit products. I spoke with François Kloc, President & CEO of Buffet Crampon USA about the rise of counterfeit clarinet products and red flags to avoid. Here are a few warning signs he mentioned which could indicate a counterfeit product: Be cautious of suspiciously low prices. This is the number one red flag for counterfeit products. Fakes will…