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Discussion Starter #1
What is the best approach to learning clarinet as a seasoned sax player? I read well and know music theory, just not the clarinet! Is there a method book you would recommend to help me learn to get around the instrument? Thanks much!
 

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Take some lessons. I’m always grateful I started on clarinet. You could just download or screenshot a fingering chart and find some stuff online.
Or you could play soprano softly and squeak a lot when they want clarinet.
I’ve always found that people ask for clarinet until they actually hear it played.
 

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I second the recommendation that you take lessons. Clarinet embouchure is different from sax embouchure and easy for sax players to approach incorrectly, leading to all sorts of tone production problems.

If you insist on doing it on your own, I'd recommend starting by downloading a fingering chart and learning all your major scales. Then get the Klose book ("Celebrated Method for the Clarinet").
 

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Get a beginner book and start from page 1. Take it slow with a tuner with care to stay up to pitch. Also blow more across the reed not straight on like a sax. No need to hit the heavy reeds strengths until you feel comfortable but don’t wait too long to get to around a 3. I started clarinet in my 20’s but really didn’t get serious until my early 40’s after a back injury. Clarinet is difficult and much less intuitive then sax.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks. Would there be a recommended YouTube video for proper embouchure to get me started at least? Thanks
 

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What's a good beginner's clarinet mouthpiece brand , size and read strength? I have played sax for over 40 years, tenor, soprano and sopranino, so my chops are pretty strong. I just acquired a clarinet and I am also going to teach myself. I ordered the Klose book. What do you suggest in dividing the tenor practice time with clarinet study?
 

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This is a "cut and paste" of a post I wrote on Cafe Saxophone in response to a similar question.

I have some experience in that area and can share some of the things I know and that have worked in my teaching. Since I know you are primarily a saxophonist, I will start with the fundamental differences between the two similar, but very different single reed woodwinds.

Saxophone - mouthpiece goes straight into the mouth
Clarinet - mouthpiece tilts downward 45°
Saxophone - plays nearer the center of the mouthpiece pitch (can lip notes up)
Clarinet - plays at the top of the mouthpiece pitch (tightening closes off the reed)
Saxophone - chin rounded and slightly bunched
Clarinet - chin flat and pointed
Saxophone - bottom lip forms a cushion for the reed
Clarinet - bottom lip stretched thin to provide the smallest amount of contact with the reed
Saxophone - the air is directed through the opening between the reed and mouthpiece
Clarinet - the air is directed at the reed
Saxophone - GENERALLY SPEAKING plays with warmer slower air.
Clarinet - GENERALLY SPEAKING plays with cool faster air.

The way I teach the clarinet embouchure is to have the EE muscles pull out while the OO muscles push in making a tug-o-war that ends in a tie. (The saxophone embouchure is taught the same except the OO muscles win pushing in more at the corners, but the EE muscles don't give up completely.)

If done properly this makes the chin flat and stretches the lower lip tight. The clarinet mouthpiece enters the mouth at a 45° angle with the reed pushing the lip back just enough to cover the lower teeth. If done properly the jaw and chin have the feeling of pulling down away from the mouthpiece while the lower lip pushes up slightly to contact the reed.

An effective test of the clarinet embouchure is to play the mouthpiece and barrel apart from the instrument. The pitch produced should be an F# concert (closer to G concert if you have a shorter "student" barrel). I used to have my students practice this with the index finger placed in the curve of the chin. This tells immediately if the chin is trying to "bunch" up as in the case of the saxophone embouchure. When there is no upward pressure from the chin, it is safe to remove the finger which reveals a nice flat chin clarinet embouchre.

The whole concept of the clarinet embouchure is the have the least amount of lip contacting the reed as possible. The problem I had starting on the saxophone and then moving to the clarinet in college was having the saxophone embouchure trying to "creep in" while playing the clarinet and getting too much lip on the reed. It look long hours playing long tones in front of a mirror to eradicate the old embouchure habits and get a "true characteristic" clarinet tone.
 

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This is a "cut and paste" of a post I wrote ...

Saxophone - GENERALLY SPEAKING plays with warmer slower air.
Clarinet - GENERALLY SPEAKING plays with cool faster air.
....
Great list!
I agree with it all that except the last pair.
To me:
Sax uses more air flow, at lower pressure (Often called "warm air", because slow air blown towards the hand feels warm)
Clarinet uses considerably less air flow, but at higher pressure - "cold" air.

As one plays in higher half of range:
Sax requires only a slight increase in air pressure (from lungs)
Clarinet needs a significantly higher air pressure, with a corresponding increase in lower lip support (beneath the reed)
 

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Could someone please suggest a quality basic clarinet mouthpiece and reed strength? I purchased a low priced new clarinet off Ebay advertised as a name brand Japanese company, knowing all too well that is was most likely a knock off, however it is solidly built and for a first clarinet it will have to do. The mouthpiece that came with it is a 4C and although I can assess a sax mpc from the the first blow, I dont have the experience to know whether a clarinet mpc is good or bad. Any advise on mouthpieces and reed strength will be greatly appreciated. I have ordered the Klose book last week.
 

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I would recommend finding someone local who can help you test a few mouthpieces. If they can sound good on them, you know that it will probably not hold you back. The 4C is probably fine to play but there are a few clunkers in any mouthpiece brand.
 

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The problem with the 4C I have that came with the clarinet, is I am pretty sure it's also a fake, counterfeit, knockoff just like the clarinet.
For someone who has spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on saxophones and sax mouthpieces in order to better my sound and skills as a saxophone player over a 40 year span, I should be ashamed of myself for cheaping out on a clarinet at this stage of my development as a musician, but I am retired now, and just can't go throwing a ton of money at an unknown factor, as in learning the clarinet. That said, I fully realize the importance of a good setup on any horn, especially the mouthpiece.
 

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In that case, we need more parameters. What kind of music will you be playing (jazz or classical)? Who do you want to sound like? What tip opening and reed strength do you use on sax?

If your current 4C is truly a knock off, then just get a genuine 4C for now and start out with soft reeds. Then after you develop some chops, move up to a Vandoren 5JB or similar, assuming you're playing jazz. I have no idea about classical mouthpieces, so I'll leave that to others.

I started out on sax and learned clarinet much later in life. Personally I had no problem with the embouchure. The fingerings were the biggest challenge for me, especially around the break and up high.

Here's a pdf of Klose if you want to go ahead and get started. But honestly, what worked best for me was the beginning band book written for children that the previous owner of my clarinet gave me. It introduced one new note at a time and had plenty of simple exercises for me to thoroughly learn each one.

http://www.el-atril.com/partituras/Klose/kloses- method-for-the-clarinet.pdf
 

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Thanks for the great advice. I play Jazz, but I also practice out of my piano books, Handel, Bach, flute etudes , whatever is challenging and enjoyable to play. I use a 7*.(105) tips with generally 2.5 strength reeds on tenor. I learned how to work on reeds and can whittle a non playing garbage reed to a playable one with my tools. I played in two big bands for 20 years eventually in the 1rst tenor chair till I retired and moved to the country.
I will most likely play classical music on the clarinet, and if it goes somewhere, use it as a double if I ever get involved in a section again.
Nevertheless, I am adaptable and focused and determined to learn the clarinet if only just for personal satisfaction. Quality of sound on any instrument is of the utmost importance to me regardless of note choice. Once again, thanks for the resource you provided and the expert advice and encouragement.
 

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Get a medium lay mouthpiece and a 3 reed. I doubt that would be too hard for you, but you can always file one down to what you need. Since you're an experienced player with a strong sax embouchure, don't bother with anything softer. A Fobes Debut is a good mouthpiece to start with. I think Behn has something comparable.
Don't be tempted to jump to an open mouthpiece right away. The effect is much different on clarinet.
Traditional Vandoren reeds are the standard, but there is a huge variety of French-cut reeds of similar and better quality available.
Deciding that you'll tend towards classical on clarinet is important to know. Embouchure is extremely important. I don't think you can gain enough reading our suggestions to find the best embouchure for you, and there are different concepts out there. Get a teacher, at least for a while. One of my professors used an embouchure similar to the one described by saxoclese; the other professor used, and taught me, to use an embouchure that bunched the lips rather than stretching them tight. Both were college profs and pro players, and I have an MA in clarinet performance, so there is clearly no best embouchure for everyone.
Good luck!
 
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