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Beginning Clarinet Songbook

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Beginning Clarinet Songbook

Introduction - Part 2 - Sound

In this section we will cover two aspects of sound: tone quality and pitch. Tone quality is simply a term we use to describe the quality of the sound you produce. There are many things which influence your tone quality. On a basic level, your tone is created by how you blow air through the instrument, your embouchure (how you form your mouth around the the mouthpiece), and the equipment you are using -- your clarinet, mouthpiece, and reeds.

Pitch is the highness or lowness of a sound. As you develop your clarinet skills you will find that the clarinet has a very wide range of pitches that it can play. To identify pitches we use the letter names A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Lesson 1 of Beginning Clarinet Songbook begins with three of those pitches: E, D, and C.
We will begin with the pitch E, which is fingered like this:

Clarinet Fingering for E

All of the fingerings for the clarinet can be found at It is part of the SkyLeap Music website and has interactive as well as printable fingering charts.

To play the pitch E on the clarinet follow these steps:
Cover the appropriate tone holes as shown in the fingering chart above, using the thumb and first finger of your left hand.
Roll your bottom lip slightly over your teeth so that the edge of the pink part of your lip is directly above the edge of your teeth.
Put the mouthpiece in your mouth so that about half an inch of the reed is in your mouth and is resting on your bottom lip.
Place your top teeth on top of the mouthpiece.
Breathe deeply through the corners of your mouth.
Close the corners of your mouth.
Apply a small amount of pressure on the reed with your bottom lip.
Exhale into the mouthpiece, making sure to keep your lips firm around the mouthpiece so that no air leaks out of your mouth. Also, keep your cheeks inward and do not allow them to puff out.
Go to this interactive clarinet fingering chart with sound. Click on the pitch E and see if it sounds like the E that you just played.

Check back soon for a video demonstration to help you.

What do you do if these steps don’t work?

Make sure that the clarinet is properly assembled and that the reed is in the correct position on the mouthpiece.

Experiment with the amount of pressure you are applying with your bottom lip. Try using a little bit more pressure or a little bit less pressure to see if that helps the reed to vibrate.

Make sure that your fingers are completely covering the holes on the clarinet.

Now go through the same process with the notes D and C.
Practice each note many times so you get used to how it feels to cover those holes and play those pitches.

Clarinet fingering for DClarinet fingering for C


Go to Part 3 of the Introduction: Articulation


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