Improve Your Clarinet Tone with a Few Tips from the Experts

Poor tone quality is unfortunately more common than most of us would like it to be, and directors never look on that kindly. The following few tips and pointers have all been collected from expert clarinet players with significant teaching experience, so they should be ideal for helping young students improve their tone quality within a fairly short amount of time.

Always Work with Instruments of Good Quality

Before anything else, let’s bust a myth and stress on the importance of using high-quality clarinets and accessories from day one. From your very first clarinet, to the most expensive model you may buy later on as a professional, every instrument, reed, mouthpiece, etc. must be of a certain standard.
If you start learning or practicing on poorly made instruments, bad habits will be developed as an inevitable result of that. Stick with high quality woodwind instruments and accessories from the beginning to prevent this from happening.

Focusing with Form

Focusing is essential for a clarinet player to produce profound tones, and it’s affected by air speed, tongue position, and grip on the instrument. Take note of the following smart tips and start working on centre and core improvements right away:
  • Fast air speed leads to steady, clear and melodious tones
  • A higher tongue position will produce focused tones immediately
  • The grip must be strong in order to improve focus
  • The bell should naturally find its position around the knees
  • Play the clarinet in several angles until you find the one where it sounds most full
  • The partially rolled bottom lip should be cushioning the reed at all times

Tuning Practice: Prerequisites

A clarinet that isn’t properly tuned cannot produce good tones. It doesn’t matter how much you practice tuning, if the following points are not kept in mind, the tuning will never be as effective as they should be.
  • You cannot tune unless the sound has been centred first
  • Do not attempt to tune any woodwind instrument without a reference pitch

Tuning Tips for Better Results

Now that you are ready to tune your clarinet, here’s a brief but effective guide to correcting flat or sharp pitches.
  • If the pitch is flat, use a mouthpiece or change the reed
  • Finger shading will often be enough to correct sharp pitches
  • D major and Eb will likely require changes in voicing (ooh instead of ee) to correct sharp pitches
  • Swap out a bell or replace a barrel to notice if the tone sounds better

Articulating and Maintenance of Focus

Fast tempos are ideal to learn the maintaining of focus (use “e”) while articulating, as slow tempos usually lead to excessive tongue motion in beginners. You can slow down gradually, but starting out fast with bursts is a proven strategy to maintain good articulated clarinet tone.
Did you know that the clarinet itself is not as responsible for tone quality as the mouthpiece and reed used by the player? Finding balance in between “too hard” and “too soft” is of immense importance while selecting reeds, as the former will over sharpen the tone, while using the latter will lead to an unfocused, flat pitch.