6 Tips for Starting Out on E-flat Clarinet
E-flat clarinet can be intimidating as it is small, counterintuitive compared to its B-flat cousin, and often plays exposed parts in the repertoire! Here are a few tips to help you get started and feel more comfortable playing!
- Don’t approach it the same way you do B-flat clarinet! Try to think of it as a completely different instrument (because it is!). Allow yourself time to experiment with what feels and sounds best for you with your mouthpiece, embouchure, and reeds. You will want to figure out what works for you to develop a beautiful, clear tone on the instrument.
- Do 12th exercises. Use your air and your embouchure to connect the two notes, rather than biting or clamping down. Try to avoid squeezing into the upper note, instead allow your sound to be free.
- Practice using more air. This can help to improve your stability in your sound. One way to do this is to avoid using the register key since it will force you to use more air to have the notes come out.
- Map your intonation. This can be done with a friend who will write down how many cents flat or sharp you are on each note as you try to find the center of the pitch. This will allow you to see what your tendencies are and figure out a plan to improve!
- Work on etudes. Be aware of your posture, if you’re squeezing, if you’re biting down, or creating unnecessary tension when playing the instrument. Use this time to build the fundamentals and check-in with your body as well as your sound.
- Play duets with a friend! Use this as a chance to get comfortable playing with someone else and figuring out intonation on E-flat clarinet together. Have fun with it and play through as many pieces as you can find together!
Looking for some examples of 12th, or Ring Tone, Exercises? Check out this post which walks you through how to get started with the exercise!