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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I consider myself to be a skilled saxophonist. My tone sounds good and I can sight read excellently (even things like Coltrane solos to a certain degree). Here's what I was thinking:

* I would have someone show me the proper embouchure on clarinet
* I would start out with the range that is the same as the saxophone (fingering wise) and work from there (as if I were learning altissimo notes for the first time)

Is this a good idea? Also, what is the embouchure like in relation to the saxophone?
 

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My strongest advice is to find a teacher who is a clarinetist. Although there are similarties, the clarinet and sax are different instruments with different embouchures, fingerings, ranges and resistance. You'll get a lot of advice about embouchure but it's pretty difficult to teach without actually seeing what you're doing. Another example, the fingerings that speak the same note are from middle D to high B and the register key changes the pitch by a 12th rather than an octave. The range is to low E, (normally) and everything above high C (which fingers the same as C# on the sax) is in the altissimo range (no palm keys).
 

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In what was is it harder?
Well...

The embouchure is WAY firmer and more controlled.
Hand position and finger placement is more 'exact'. You have open holes that you have to make sure are covered and can't have floppy flying fingers.
Horn angle is tighter to the body than soprano sax.
When you play 'low D' on the clarinet and press the register key it's NOT an octave above... It's a 12th.

You would do better with a few lessons rather than just being shown an embouchure.
The clarinet is a less 'forgiving' instrument than the saxophone. :)
 

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In what was is it harder?
It's best not to think of it as harder, but different. One of the thing that gives sax players problems is the fact that you have to cover tone holes, so no sloppy fingering is allowed. There are facets of Sax that are more difficult than clarinet, the extreme low register and altissimo, come to mind. You need to approach it as a different instrument with it's own set of challanges.
 

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I can get a very nice tone on clarinet, but my main problem is the register thingy....its not an octave, so I have too rethink every time I want to go up or down an octave. That's it for me. Oh yeah and going from all open to all closed.
 

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My strongest advice is to find a teacher who is a clarinetist. Although there are similarties, the clarinet and sax are different instruments with different embouchures, fingerings, ranges and resistance. You'll get a lot of advice about embouchure but it's pretty difficult to teach without actually seeing what you're doing.
+1. The best thing you can do.
 

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ACK all who suggest a teacher. And yes, you don't have 12 notes x 3 octaves, you have 36 (-ish) different notes.

You may indeed want to play your sax tunes, halfway by ear, till you got the hang of the notes. (I do likewise, descending (pfrblll!) from clarinet to sax). One thing at a time. Then you can go back to sight-reading.
 

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Welcome to the club! I started on sax, and picked up clarinet some years later. Embouchure is similar in some ways, at least the way I was taught. Firm all the way around the mouthpiece, but the chin is pointed the flatten the lower lip against the bottom teeth, NOT over the teeth. Sax tends to be lower lip a bit over the teeth, at least classical sax. You do somewhat more vowel manipulation (ee, oo, oh, etc.) on clarinet, especially in the upper register. Like others said, get a clarinetist to help with embouchure. Everyone's mouth is unique, and descriptions and pictures aren't that helpful. I suppose you could get your feet wet by concentrating on fourth line D to B above the staff, where the fingerings are pretty much the same as sax, but you're going to find that clarinet is opposite of sax in terms of response. The second register is the tough one for beginning clarinet (low register is MUCH easier), while the bottom octave is trouble on sax. The overblow at the 12th requires lots of practice, both reading the intervals, and mastering the throat tones.
 

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I remember reading in a book how much problem Paul Desmond had going from tenor sax to clarinet back to tenor sax. The embouchure and air thing is huge. As I don't practice enough on the clarinet, like I do on my saxes, I tend to overblow when moving from sax to clarinet. And it took me a long time to develop an embouchure/sound that I would do in public. And there are many, many more alternate fingerings that you really need to become proficient with to make any progress. But for me it was a labor of luv. And playing bass clarinet that one year that we didn't have one in the Community Band really helped a lot.

A lot of really good sax players will often sit in on third or second clarinet in community bands so that they can work on the clarinet as a double. It can be very painful, but there is no better way to learn if you ask me. I do get help from my wife the clarinetist and on occasion an instructor. Usually the instructor is to help me with a clarinet solo that I want to do like this: Clarinet Solo Stretch Goal: Stompin' at the Savoy.
 

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While it's othodox and probably good advice to seek a teacher, it's not altogether necessary.

If you're already a good saxophone player then you've been through the mill of adjusting your embouchure until you've got the sound you want. You've also got the breath control idea and the fingering idea and the tonguing idea. Sure, all of them are slightly different on clarinet and there's the 12th thing, but they're not a masonic secret.

Good clarinets are cheap. Buy one and have a go. I bet that within one weekend you'll be playing it to a mediocre level (and that's where so many clarinettists end up). Now, if you want to go from mediocre to pretty good you're going to have to re-evaluate. Perhaps it will involve a teacher and perhaps not, but a weekend is not going to ingrain bad habits that you'll have to unlearn (that old chestnut).

My advice, in a nutshell, is have a go first - you might surprise yourself.
 

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Forum Contributor 2012, SOTW Saxophone Whisperer,
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If it was as easy as you suggest ...... more people would be better at it.

When it comes to doubling I like sharing some advice I received many years ago from a mentor (seasoned doubler).

One day I was sitting in a pit feeling irritated about why I didn't sound as good on flute as I wanted to after a year of working at it quite seriously. I knew the fingerings. I knew alot about tone production. I had a good instrument.

So I asked my mentor ..... "why cant I get a better sound on flute?"

He replied .... "well, how long did it take you to sound good on sax?"

Now about 7 years later, I am just STARTING to be happy with my flute sound.

This applies to learning ANY secondary instrument. Just because you may KNOW HOW does not mean you are ABLE TO!!!

That's what practicing is all about.

Charlie
 

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Couldn't agree more. If you want to sound pretty good you have to put in a lot of time and effort. If you only want to sound mediocre on clarinet then that's pretty easy to achieve for an experienced sax player. It all comes down to what you're trying to achieve.

That said, experienced clarinettists LOVE to put a seemingly unclimbable mountain in front of mere saxophonists.
 

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This may sound somewhat weird but my suggestion would be, if you want to give it a go by yourself first, to get a beginning band methods book (my son's school uses Essential Elements which is pretty good) for the clarinet and start at the beginning as if you are a beginning student (which, in regards to the clarinet, you are!) I'm pretty sure you will find, as an experienced saxophonist, that you will be able to breeze through the first book in a matter of a week or two. This will have you at the 6th grade level. The second book will advance you through middle school and will take a month or two of dedicated practice. The third book is for high school level students. The reason I recommend this procedure is that this method is a tested and proven series for teaching proper beginning technique. The fingering charts and alternate fingering guides alone are worth the purchase price and the series comes with a DVD/CD set for playing along.
 
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