Parent's Guide to children
playing the Clarinet
AGE GROUP BOYS AND GIRLS 8- ADULT
is an instrument in the
woodwind family. It is a terrific starting point in music for a child.
The size and weight is perfect for a child's small hands. In
addition, it can be easily transported.
What age should my child
start Clarinet lessons?
The clarinet is a popular
instrument in school programs so your child will have the opportunity to
participate in band or orchestra with their friends. The
recommended age to start a child in clarinet lessons is 8 years. The
lessons will teach your child the proper position for holding the
instrument. They will focus on embouchure (the way you shape your
mouth while playing), sound repertoire, finger placement, and music
reading. The theory taught to play the clarinet is also very
similar to the saxophone and the flute. Many times young players
will learn on the clarinet and then switch over to one or both of the
others to broaden their musical talents.
for music can be done at anytime, as long as space is available, and
your session will be prorated. Registration can be done in person,
by phone, by mail or fax. In addition, some organizations will
allow you to register on line. Normally these programs are
very popular and space can be limited so don't delay registration or you
may miss out! Music programs are usually 16 -20 week sessions.
practice is necessary?
As with anything,
improving in music takes practice. One of the major problems with
children and music is the drudgery of practicing. There is no set
time, however your child must spend quality time each
day reviewing what they were taught. Practice must be concentrated and focused. Set the same
time every day to practice so that it becomes part of a routine or
habit. For young children 20 or 30 minutes seems like an eternity and
they spend more time watching the clock then practicing.
Instead of setting a time frame, use repetition as your gauge. For
example have your child play each piece 3 - 5 times per day.
The child does not pay attention to the amount of time they are
practicing but knows that they are on the third time and almost
finished. Ideally, your child should have a place to
practice without distractions and it should not disrupt the household.
If the home is small then you should consider the instrument chosen. A very
large instrument or a noisy instrument could be very disruptive and you
may not have the room for it.
Depending on the
instrument and the skill level of the child lessons will run either 30,
45 or 60 minutes per week. Lessons are scheduled on an individual basis.
Your registration reserves you a time slot for the duration of your
instruction period. It is imperative that you arrive promptly for
your lesson. They will normally give you only one make-up lesson
per session and any other that the child misses will be a forfeiture of
Formal and informal recitals are
an important part of the music program. They will offer your child the
opportunity to perform, listen and learn proper recital etiquette.
These recitals are not mandatory but it is to your child's advantage for
them to participate.
Cost of lessons?
The cost of music lessons has four components:
- cost of the
- cost of
- competition or
The cost for clarinet lessons
would depend on whether your child is taking private or group lessons,
the length of the class and the qualifications of the instructor.
Music sessions will run
for 16 -20 weeks. As a general indication, most instruments
will be $25 - $40 for a 30 minute lesson, $35 -$50 for a 45
minute lesson and $50 - $60 for a 60 minute lesson. Some
organizations offer family discounts and group rates. Many
students enjoy taking lessons with their family or friends.
The Cost of the
The cost of the
instrument would depend on whether you rent or purchase the instrument.
If you rent the instrument it is usually done on a three month trial
basis that will automatically turn into a year contract if the
instrument is not returned. You can pay the cost all once at the
beginning or they will automatically bill your credit card on a monthly
basis. If you choose to
purchase the instrument you have the option of purchasing a new or used
instrument. A used instrument will be substantially cheaper and
many times are like new. Cost information for purchasing or
renting a clarinet is provided below in the equipment category.
Initially, the materials
required will be a method book.
Some music stores will include the book with the rental of the
instrument. In addition, some musical accessories could be recommended
depending on the instructor. For instance, music stands, portable
CD players, microphones or instrument stands may be required.
recitals are a wonderful way for your child to show their abilities to
the world and it is extremely exciting for them. However, many
recitals and competitions often have entry fees. You will need to
discuss with child's instructor their philosophy on this subject.
come in sizes?
There are several different
types of clarinets. They range from the tiny E-flat clarinet,
which is about 14 inches long to the giant contrabass clarinet. which is
larger than an adult that is seated. The B-flat is the clarinet of
choice for young children. This is most often used in school band
programs and is the most popular of all clarinets even in the
I do rent or buy a Clarinet?
your best option is to rent a
clarinet from your local music store. If you rent the instrument it is
usually done on a three month trial basis that will automatically turn
into a year contract if the instrument is not returned. It will
cost you approximately $150.00 for the year.
dedicated students should purchase a clarinet at some point in their development. A
good quality, brand new student clarinet may be purchased at about $400.
An intermediate instrument will cost approximately $700 and an
professional clarinet will run about $1000. There are two
types of clarinets available for students, plastic and wood.
Usually, you will be able to purchase the plastic for substantially
cheaper. You can tell a wood clarinet, by the grain in the wood.
A wood clarinet is what professionals use and they provide a warmer
sound. The plastic however are more durable for young children.
If you plan to purchase
a used instrument, which will cost substantially less, seriously
consider buying one from a reputable dealer that will stand behind the
In addition, you will
need to purchase clarinet reeds, a music stand, cleaning swab, cork
grease and the method book. You can expect these items to cost
approximately $20 to $30 dollars.
A beginner will normally use a
number 2 Ricoh reed. You should purchase several reeds at a
time. Reeds need to be replaced often, they will last about 2-3
weeks. To help increase the life span of the reed your child
should rotate it so that it has time to dry. Once the child's
Embouchure improves the reed that they need will change to a higher
number. A higher number will make it easier for them to reach more
instrument that your child begins with may not necessarily be the one
that they stay with forever. They are however, learning the
basics of music theory and harmony that can be easily converted to
You will know when your
child is ready to enter competition when he/she feels extremely
confident and is willing to play in front of people. This is the best
sign that your child is ready to go out and be judged for their
Rewards work very well
for children. Be sure to grant an occasional simple reward to help
encourage practice. Stickers are a great way to show approval.
Praise also tends to be a great reward; there is no substitution for a
pat on the back for a job well done.
Instruments are very
delicate and should always be protected from heat, cold and quick
changes in temperature.
It is important to
properly maintain your instrument at all times.
The main body of the
clarinet is divided into the upper joint whose holes and most keys are
operated by the left hand, and the lower joint with holes and joints
used by the right hand. The weight of the instrument is supported by the
right thumb using the thumb rest. Looking at the clarinet makes it
appear to be a difficult instrument to learn. However, learning
one key at a time makes the process understandable.
The clarinet is stored
in the case in five pieces: the lower joint, the upper joint, the
barrel, the bell and the mouthpiece. It is important that your
child knows how to properly put it together and take it apart for
||Two or more
different pitches sounding at the same time
EVERY GOOD BOY DOES
||A rule to
remember the lines of a staff by using the first letter of each
for two players.
||A rule to
remember, from bottom to top, the spaces on a musical staff.
||Time set aside
for your child to review what the teacher has taught them during
their normal lessons.
written for one player, often with a piano accompaniment.
||The five lines
and four spaces used for writing music
||The letters A
through G. These are used to name the notes on the staff
in a LINE - SPACE - LINE - SPACE order.
||A person who
plays the clarinet.
||A small piece
of shaved cane that is the actual tone generator for the
of the mouth around the mouthpiece and the reed.
instrument in which sound is produced by blowing through a
mouthpiece against an edge or by a vibrating reed, in which
pitch is varied by opening or closing the holes on the