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Discussion Starter #1
I've heard a lot about the instrument-it is the necessary double for every orchestral or chamber clarinetist, but do I need one? I see everyone else around these forums has one, and i recently went to a masterclass where everyone there had an A too. However, these were all high school and college players. I'm just finishing 8th grade. Do i really need an A clarinet? they're really expensive, and I don't feel like spending any more money. My parents have spent a total of about $2000 to get me a good Bb and Eb clarinet for my school band, all-county and local wind ensemble, and youth orchestra, and I really don't want to waste any money for anything other than essentials.
 

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I think you should wait a few years before you get an "A" clarinet. It's used almost exclusively in symphony orchestras and the only some of the time. If you get a chance to be an orchestra member, then it might be time to have an "A". You might be able to transpose some parts and/or borrow the "A" for a few gigs. In the meantime, look around for a good used one. Something might turn up.
 

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No, you don't NEED one.
I've had my *A* clarinet for around 6 years and it's only been used in performance ONCE in all that time.
That was this past March in the pit for HMS Pinafore.
I've had my little Eb soprano for 10 years and it has never been used in performance.

They are fun to have and noodle around with, but the chance to really use them rarely arises.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
i've had my Eb since just december, and i've used it in a bunch of performances with my wind ensemble, but i suppose that's where most of the Eb repertoire is, aside from clarinet choirs and some orchestral works. I used it in december with a band arrangement of the nutcracker, along with some other band songs, and also just recently in a Copland concert.
 

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I don't think it is necessary, at least not yet. There's only one high school clarinetist I know who carries around an A clarinet, and she's All-State/Governors School/and all that good stuff. And even then I'm not sure if she even uses it. If you find yourself in a situation where you may need one, I'm sure a private teacher could lend you one.
 

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i've had my Eb since just december, and i've used it in a bunch of performances with my wind ensemble, but i suppose that's where most of the Eb repertoire is, aside from clarinet choirs and some orchestral works. I used it in december with a band arrangement of the nutcracker, along with some other band songs, and also just recently in a Copland concert.

When you get out into 'real life' and not being spoon fed music you'll find the need for the Eb and the A diminish greatly.
STILL, They are fun! :)

Kontra, I'm a private teacher and I DON'T lend out instruments to anyone but family members.
I have too much invested in my instruments to take a chance on them being lost or damaged by someone elses' kid. ;)
 

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Kontra, I'm a private teacher and I DON'T lend out instruments to anyone but family members.
I have too much invested in my instruments to take a chance on them being lost or damaged by someone elses' kid.
I understand that completely. I was surprised when my teacher lent me his bass clarinet while mine was away at the shop, but I had to promise to pay any repairs that it may need after the audition.
 

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If you are planning on doing orchestras (at your age...youth orchestras, governor's schools, etc.) you'll want the A. If you're planning on doing a lot of band/wind ensemble and pit work, you're fine at the moment. It all really depends on what you want to do as a musician. I use my A a lot in chamber music, but I play mostly with strings, and for orchestral auditions, and what not. So it depends on what your situation is. It's something that it won't hurt to have down the line, but at 8th grade, you should be fine with what you have now. I would suggest keeping an eye out though for any good deals!
 

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I'd say that an A clarinet could be a great investment. My parents bought me an R-13 A clarinet when I was in 8th grade as the occasions for its use started to arise in youth symphony. It wasn't completely necessary until a couple of years later but having it at that point definitely didn't hurt, plus it was much cheaper two years earlier. Any semi-serious orchestral group will have use for the A clarinet on a pretty regular basis, much more regularly than a use for Eb clarinet. If you continue with orchestra and don't get an A clarinet you will become very good at transposing on the fly and playing in awkward keys...but it is doable.

In any case, don't buy one until the need actually arises because who knows what the future holds for you musically. Even though I used mine on a very regular basis in high school once I went to college and focused on jazz I didn't use it for several years. Now it just sits in my closet...so like bandmommy said, once you're out of HS and playing opportunities fade the use for the instrument may as well. I'm keeping mine though with hopes that I'll join an orchestra again someday, plus it is fun to have an A clarinet to mess around with on the mozart concerto and quintet.
 

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If you have ambitions of becoming a serious clarinetist, go ahead and look for a good A clarinet. Aside from orchestra, much of the important solo literature is written for A clarinet. Remember the Mozart concerto is for A clarinet.

If you play in a good youth orchestra, you will need (or benefit from having) the A.

The clarinet repertoire is very demanding and takes a long time to master. You can never start too early! As long you buy wisely, you will not lose out on your investment. Your instrument should increase in value as time goes by. So if you can afford it, check it out.

Talk with an orchestral player in your area. Most musicians are very open to questions and everybody loves to talk about equipment. Pros are the best source of information and good used horns.

Best of luck!
 

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I know I've said that the *A* isn't a necessity, BUT...
If you find once you've gotten into high school that the horn would be of benifit don't be afraid of a vintage clarinet.
Since they see such little use you can find one in nearly pristine condition. Most would need only pads and an adjustment.
When I got my *A* it was/is part of a 'matched' set of Selmer full boehms from the late 30s.
The Bb has seen so much playing time that the tone hole chimneys are cupped. The A looked as if it had never been touched.
Neither one plays well with any of my Vandoren mouthpieces.
I got the set for $1500. Keep your eyes open and you may be able to find a similar *A* for a little over half that.
If you really, really like Buffet, the E11 in *A* can sometimes be found at a 'reasonable' price.

Before you decide to start searching I would strongly advise that you try a few first. As with any instrument, they all have their own little 'personality quirks'.

I'm waiting for the Selmer Signature to become a 'vintage' clarinet so that I can afford to get an A to match my Bb. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I found a china-made A clarinet on ebay for about $130, what you guys think? If I use my vandoren set up on it, is it good?
 

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AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!
With an A, if you can't try it or something VERY similar.... DON'T BUY IT!
 

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I have a matched HR Bb/A Conn set made in 1919 - unplayable and, in the case of the A, useless to anyone except perhaps a klezmer. They're low pitch, 17/6 Boehms, but too far beyond the pale for classical music given today's exacting intonation and technique.
 

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Eb - the dreaded "eefer" - is soprano by default, same as Bb.
 

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Eb - the dreaded "eefer" - is soprano by default, same as Bb.
No, it is not.
Using only the term "Eb" in a clarinet section will get you stared at like your are an alien.
It's best to always specify WHICH Eb clarinet you are talking about.
"Eefer" is fine when you mean an Eb soprano/sopranino. Otherwise you will be given advice on the Eb alto which is another nasty beast in its' own right. :)
 

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I've actually never played in a band with both kinds of Eb clarinet, so I guess I have to take your word. But it would make more sense to me if there were
- anything at all in common between eefer parts (coloratura fills, lots of rests) and alto parts (inner harmony, lots of rests in different places). Ie: any occasion for a director to call out "OK, let's hear just the Eb clarinets."
- any other instrument commonly called an "alto clarinet."
 

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It's even more fun when you throw in an EEb contra. The director is VERY specific when asking which section/instrument he wants to hear.
 

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He should be, but that's no reason for his clarinet players to be looking at anybody funny. In my day, collegiality was part of being a good musician, but then again, you could play a 1919 Conn and nobody'd notice as long as you played it well. I'm an old faart that way ;)
 
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