New Student

I want to start playing the clarinet. I am 19 years old. I did learn to play the alto sax in middle school, however due to lack of fiances I could not continue on with it in high school.

My first choice of instrument was the clarinet, but the band director said that since I was African American and we tend to have thicker lips than our Caucasian counterparts, the clarinet might not be the instrument for me. So I choose the sax.

I am looking into buying a clarinet to learn on. I noticed that there was one for sale in the (an American retail store) catalog. I know that it is made of plastic. Is this a good choice for a beginner? The clarinet is not made by , but merely sold by them and shipped from a manufacturer.

I also don’t think that private lessons will be possible due to my financial standing. Are there any other methods that you would recommend such as books or video? I would have to be taught not only the fingering, but how to read the music again. If I find that I like the instrument, I might be able to take lessons.

Thank you for your nice note. It is good to hear that you are enthusiastic about the clarinet; there is nothing to keep you from playing the instrument. The relative size of lips is different for everyone and is NOT something that would keep anyone from playing. If you want to play, you will play.

If you live near a college, you can telephone and ask them if there is a student clarinet player who may be able to help. Starting correctly is the most important thing.

Or you can do it yourself. Some of the great players never had a lesson, however they caught up when time permitted.

I don’t know about the clarinet. It may be OK. In general, is a very good company and with them, you have a month to try it out. In other words, they have a return policy.

When I was 15 I started. I loved the sound of the instrument and I loved all those keys to look at. It was a real adventure for me and I hope that you can find the same kind of joy that I did.

Whatever you do, if you get a clarinet, buy a few reeds and use the one that makes the nicest sound with the least hassle. Lower lip over the bottom teeth, upper teeth on the mouthpiece. Take as little mouthpiece in your mouth that will allow you to make a sound.

If you can’t buy music for the clarinet, try the library. A decent first book is the Klosť. They have one big one, and then you can get it in smaller editions. Usually you will have a fingering chart that comes with the book.

One of the most important of all things is to get near a good clarinet player just to hear the sound he or she is making. Getting the sound you want is really all in your head, or maybe I should say, ear. Hearing a good player play and watching his mouth will save you a headache and perhaps save you years of correcting bad habits.

The very best of luck to you. Write and tell me of your success.

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