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Hello!

I've been playing the sax (alto, tenor and soprano) for 14 years now and the time as come to finally........learn the clarinet!

It's something I've put to the back of my mind for a long time but I know now I need to start learning it properly especially as I'm starting to teach a lot of sax students and would be good to move to clarinet too (and flute).

What advice does everyone have for me?? Any good books to buy? Any books/videos that specifically help going from sax to clarinet???
Any things to focus on specifically at first?? Any common problems?


Thanks guys!

Tom
 

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Hi Tom,

The best thing you can do is to get some lessons off a clarinetist! Not a doubler but someone whose primary instrument is clarinet. You don't need a lot of lessons but two or three will help you to understand the embouchure and avoid developing bad habits. Enjoy!

Thanks Chris :)


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Put clarinet down sax bell.
Drizzle liberally with Ronson lighter fluid.
Toss in match.

:mrgreen:
 

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+1 for learning clarinet from a clarinetist. Keep in mind though, not all 'excellent technical players' are created equal. There are those that sound great in a low-volume setting but are restricted in their idea of what a full clarinet sound is. Be sure to find a clarinetist whose sound you like! Otherwise, you'll think the licorice stick is an instrument incapable of sounding as full, dynamic, and potentially ballsy as a saxophone, while this is not true at all.

There really is no substitute- you have to learn it like its own instrument, and not like a mutated saxophone. Find a mouthpiece you like (I've played on a 1.2mm tip all my life and have no intention of going any smaller to appease some orchestral player who listens with their eyes and not their ears), and keep in mind you're blowing into the reed, not into the mouthpiece. Very counter-intuitive for a saxophonist, but you'll learn the way to do it soon enough.

For the love of your sanity, don't touch a bass clarinet for at least a few years. That's a whole separate can of worms. As far as books are concerned, I'm in love with the Eugene Gay book (very advanced and hard to find) but feel free to pick up some Rose etudes, there are some PDFs floating around the net.

Feel free to add your own opinion or discredit everything I've written down- this is SOTW after all.
 

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Learning clarinet is a must, sooner or later. Flute too. Besides the mandatory lessons from a clarinetist, the one over all book I would suggest is The Art of Clarinet Playing by Keith Stein. It was written back in the 60's but still is a fantastic book. The biggest difference in sax vs clarinet embouchure is that the clarinet embouchure should be a mild "underbite". The front teeth are behind the bottom lip while the clarinet is held at a 45 degree angel from the body. Good luck.
 

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Find a good mouthpiece/reed combination. I have spent the last 3 years really playing clarinet and realized it doesn't have to be super resistant. Some clarinet players really like back-pressure (as do some saxophonist) but with experimentation and of course spending a lot of money finding a medium tip mouthpiece with a 3-ish reed should do the trick. My entry level mouthpiece was a Morgan J6 with a #2 Mitchel Lurie reed on a Selmer Series 10 Clarinet. I played this for a about a year but began to hear the limitations in terms of a more 'classical sound.' Switch to a Caravan with Vandoren Blue Box #2 1/2 then to 3's. Finally about a year ago went to a Richard Hawkins "B" with Vandoren V12's 3 1/2 and found a late 60's R13. My current set-up isn't "hard to blow" and provides a really nice classical sound. But you HAVE to approach the clarinet as a clarinetist. I really do not view clarinet as a double any more but I also spent the last year practicing exclusively clarinet.
 

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I would have to agree that lessons from a clarinetist is the best way to start.
More than likely they will want you to play etudes and other yucky classically based material. It's not that bad!
After a few weeks when you've gotten a good idea of what 'clarinet chops' are you can cut loose and have some fun. A really good book for torturing yourself is the 'Klose Complete/Celebrated Method for Clarinet'. There are exercises in there that make me want to cry, and I'm a clarinetist...
As everyone else has said, you can not, and must not, use your 'sax brain' or 'sax face' while learning this wonderfully butt kicking instrument. Learning it 'properly' and coming out alive is a most rewarding experience. :)
 

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Warp X, that wonderful recording sounds like music from Mel Gibson's sensational movie, "Apocalypto".
It's evocative in the extreme and transports me back to a more primitive time.
It seems the players and vocalists were also transported. Wonderful.
Thank you for posting it.

deecy/
 

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Put clarinet down sax bell.
Drizzle liberally with Ronson lighter fluid.
Toss in match.

:mrgreen:
Yes. By far the most spot on advice given on how to deal with the clarinet. It is a scenario I have played out in my mind often. But since the darned thing doesn't seem to go away--unless I took the drastic yet sometimes very attractive sounding measures Gary recommends-- I also heartily recommend taking a lesson or three from a good clarinetist, especially if you think there will be a need for you to teach it.
And if you find the instrument is not compliant, add any Klosé exercise or etude to help start the fire.
 

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I tried for some years to practice on clarinet after playing tenor 4-5 years. my teacher told me to do to get more jobs to play because of versatility. I gave up in the end the clarinet because it was no good for my embouchure. in the end I trated my expensive Keilwerth clarinet for a fender telecaster. but that's only my experience. in my eyes tenor and clarinet don't fit so good for me.
But I wish you the best. and I agree to take a good teacher, maybe one who play also sax and clarinet. good luck.



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Sax and clarinet have little in common. Sax to flute is actually an easier transition than clarinet. Trying to find commonalities with sax will hold back your progress. Approach it as an entirely new thing. The old all-in-one method books (Klose, etc.), move VERY quickly from long tones to challenging stuff, and aren't at all interesting, so unless you're super motivated, it might be better to get something that moves at a modest pace, and throws in a few recreational songs along the way. And, get some lessons with a good clarinet teacher.
 

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Warp X, that wonderful recording sounds like music from Mel Gibson's sensational movie, "Apocalypto".
It's evocative in the extreme and transports me back to a more primitive time.
It seems the players and vocalists were also transported. Wonderful.
Thank you for posting it.

deecy/
Thank you!
Haven't seen that movie, I should check it out.
 

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If you can make the monetary, time cosuming and emotional sacrifices go for it. There should be a greater reason to want to play clarinet other than it may be obligatory because you teach and play saxophone. With that logic you might as well learn trumpet too. What that reason is to you maybe personal, you love the intro to Rhapsody in Blue, that every major jazz movement in big band, small ensemble or soloist, whether it be Ellington to Mingus, featured a lot of beautiful and well played clarinet. You may have heard the Mozart clarinet quintet and you're hooked...even a simple little intro in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, the Allegro Simplice in Act I of the Pas de Trois is enough testimony to how beautiful this instrument can sound. It will make learning the instrument worth while if you truly love its sound.
 

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When I was a kid, all the old stocks that we played in big bands had clarinet not flute doubles. Clarinet is a great instrument but it is certainly harder to play well than the sax. If you practice the drill exercises from the aforementioned Klose book for clarinet, you will come to appreciate the ease at which the sax can perform the same mechanics. It's a whole bunch of little things like holes to cover, no articulated G#, register based as opposed to octave based technique! smaller size mouthpiece using more fine motor embouchure control etc. that make the clarinet a great discipline for sax players. If you can develop good fingers on the clarinet, you'll fly on the saxophone. Over the years I have I have really enjoyed flute playing over the sax and clarinet. No reeds!!!!


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