The clarinet is no exception to inherent problems of tone production, intonation, range or technique. Producing a fine tone quality and good intonation in all registers are problems of acoustical design which defy all players. The clarinet has the acoustical properties of a "stopped pipe" which means it over-blows the twelfth, and is the only instrument to do so. This necessitates a mechanism to assist bridging the gap between the chalumeau and clarion registers. The instrument has one vent hole for change of register. Its size, shape and position are at best, a compromise, venting all notes of the clarion and altissimo registers.  It also serves to produce the Bb on the third line of the treble staff known as the "throat Bb". has to constantly adjust the oral cavity, embouchure and breath to overcome this deficiency.

The clarinet produces its best quality of tone at or near the "top" of the pitch, but is less flexible in its ability to adjust intonation of single notes.  Even with proper embouchure a clarinetist is not able to favor the pitch upward, but to a lesser degree, downward resulting in the least amount of deviation of pitch, without distorting its overall scale.

The importance of good instruction for the beginning student is essential. Initial correct or incorrect habits are likely to become permanently infused in the student's development. A good teacher and good teaching are the key.

This handbook is intended to provide the student with some of the basic elements of clarinet playing  rather than a method of instruction.  It includes the many facets of clarinet playing, but is not a step-by- step method designed to "fix" every problem. It intends to describe rather than prescribe.  It isn't meant as only way of approaching the instrument and its complexities, but it is a way which I have found useable and quite successful over many years.


Short History

Modern Clarinet


Mouthpiece Customizing

The Reed

Equisetum (Dutch Rush)




Finger Relaxation

Tone Shaping

Articulation: Tonguing

Finger Technique



The High Register

Phrasing and Interpretation

Fingering Chart


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