Starting the Clarinet at age 68? Yes, of course.

Hello Mr. Friedland,

Greetings to you from a music enthusiast in Malaysia.
I came across this Clarinet Corner and immensely enjoyed reading all the questions addressed to you and your succinct replies.
I am 68 years old and am a retired civil engineer. Since I have been deeply enjoying music and opera for almost 50 years and now that I have time on my hands I felt that I ought to make an attempt to also learn to play an instrument and chose the clarinet after having been mesmerised by Mozart and Brahms clarinet works as well as Bach’s Flute pieces. To pursue this aim I purchased a used vintage (perhaps 60 year old) Noblet Paris clarinet and seperately a Selmer HS** mouthpiece about 2 years ago.
Since clarinet tutors are hard to come by in this part of the world I decided very naively to self-learn using the Klose and Rubank Instruction Books.
I would like to take the opportunity to request your advice on some questions that are provoking my mind, namely :

Is it really possible to self-learn to play the clarinet at a basic level (perhaps to play with the church choir) at this age.
Is the Noblet which is in a reasonable good condition appropriate as a learning instrument.
Is it acceptable to use a 11/2 hardness rating (Mitchel Lurie, VanDoren) reed at this early stage of learning.

Your kind advice would be greatly appreciated.

And it has been an honour to write to you.



I too am honored that you have written to me. It is very pleasant to receive such an intelligently written letter from such a far place.
To answer your most pressing question first: it is not too late to learn to play the clarinet. It is really never too late to start to learn to play the clarinet. It is also possible to do it without a teacher. What you must do is to listen to as much beautiful sounding clarinet music that you can find, and then simply copy the sound that they make to the best of your ability.
And you can achieve all of this by using the large and comprehensive Klose book for the clarinet. There are many editions of the Klose, however it is the most complete Klose that you can find. It will last you a lifetime.
The mouthpiece you mention is fine for your purpose as are the reeds. The Noblet clarinet is an excellent clarinet for your needs.
Hoping that I have been of some help to tou, I am sincerely
, Sherman Friedland


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