Msuci 101: Clarinet

The clarinet, the first thing that comes to mind for some people would be the clarinet playing squid from the kids show, Spongebob. Being a student who used to play the clarinet, there was more to it than others knew. Being able to play the Flight of the Bumblebee, or American in Paris, appealed to me greatly and worked hard learning this instrument and understanding it better.

The first thing to know about the clarinet is that it is a wind instrument. The 60 cm long tube of wood covered in metal keys is played with a mouthpiece with a hole in the front that is to be covered with a cane reed. It comes apart in five pieces, the mouthpiece, the barrel, the upper joint, the lower joint, and the bell. When you’re holding the clarinet or playing, your left hand is on the upper joint and your right hand is on the lower joint. When you want to make a note, you have the clarinet at an angle, make your lips into a football shape, and blow a steady stream of air that causes the reed to vibrate and create a sound, or a note.

Very similar to a piano, the clarinet has keys to put your fingers on and can play a certain note. When you add all your fingers on the keys and have the holes on the clarinet covered, a low note will play, but the less fingers are on, the higher the note. On the back of the clarinet you will see a thumb rest for your right hand and above it, is the register key. When you press the register key, it’ll help you play higher notes. The first note that is easy to play is “C” you press three keys down with your left hand on the upper joint and the key in the back below the register key.

Feeling more than just a musical squid with this instrument? Get playing!


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