Clarinet Parents Guide

This Clarinet Parents Guide offers suggestions and links provided below to improve your child’s clarinet experience and success.

This list of 12 Steps to Improve Your Young Clarinetist is based on life experience (as I was a young clarinetist at one time) and teaching experience.

Parents who have followed my suggestions did see improvement in their young musician. Better yet, the child saw improvement (which furthers self-esteem and generates more success).

I’ve written this list twice below as a simple list, and a more in-depth list telling you why and how to improve each step of the process.

See 252 beats per minute Flight of the Bumblebee here.

Clarinet Parent’s Guide – 12 Steps to Improve Your Young Clarinetist’s Musical Experience

1. Support your child in their musical endeavors.

2. Make your clarinetist practice consistently.

3. Give them a quiet, comfortable “non-distracting” space to practice clarinet.

4. Give your young clarinetist a steady supply of new clarinet reeds (try at least one box a month).

5. Equipment – Good quality equipment will help your player excel well in music. You actually do not have to go crazy and buy the “best” equipment ever made for clarinetists. However, low-balling the prices and getting the cheapest equipment is almost certain death to your child’s music studies.

6. Have the clarinet maintained at least annually by a quality instrument repair technician.

7. Listening – Get your young clarinetist to listen to the clarinet recordings.

8. Along with listening to recorded music, take your young person to a LIVE concert (a clarinet concert is best, but seeing a live performing musician is a good experience to witness).

9. Have them take advantage of all the musical offerings their music teacher gives. If they offer extra music lessons before or after school, take advantage of it. If they have honor bands, all-county bands or solo and ensemble auditions or a recital, sign them up. Eventually, if they really take to the clarinet, find a private clarinet teacher to give them regular clarinet lessons.

10. Have your child socialize with other musicians at their level and especially more advanced levels.

11. Have them perform for you, your family or familiar adults in their lives.

12. Other important equipment for young clarinetists besides the clarinet: cork grease, clarinet swab, small screwdriver, mirror, sturdy music stand, metronome, tuner, mouthpiece cap.

Clarinet Parent’s Guide – 12 Steps to Improve Your Young Clarinetist’s Musical Experience

More in-depth...

Clarinet Parents Guide Step 1: Support your child in their musical endeavors. Go to their music events. Make music a consistent priority for attendance of in-school and after-school activities.   

Take interest in their new found field of study. Push them just enough to excel, but do not cram it into their minds. If you take TOO much interest (remember they are pre-teen or teenagers), you might turn them off to clarinet.

Clarinet Parents Guide Step 2: Make your clarinetist practice consistently. Start with 15 minutes a day for the first three months and then at least 30 minutes a day in the first few years. Eventually, an hour a day is the goal and to succeed even better more than that a day.

Keep a practice chart and sign it (not just for the music teachers, but for yourself). What happens if they do not practice daily or have motivation at all, but they still like band and do not wish to quit? Great! That means they are still enjoying the music experience.

I’ve seen students that do this and eventually get motivated to practice consistently in a few years.

Clarinet Parents Guide Step 3: Give them a quiet, comfortable “non-distracting” space to practice clarinet. Preferably away from the siblings, TV, computer, video games, I-pod, cell phones, etc…

A comfortable chair and a nice music stand with good lighting is necessary.

Clarinet Parents Guide Step 4: Give your young clarinetist a steady supply of new clarinet reeds (try at least one box a month). Stinginess with reeds is a major problem with young clarinetists. Usually, they buy one at a time.

At minimum, a young clarinetist should have four playable reeds at any one time. Have them rotate the reeds every time they put the clarinet together (and if practice sessions are long, rotate the reeds during the session).

Rotating the reeds will actually make them last longer. Even though technical for a non-clarinetist, you could read through this Clarinet Reed Adjustment page.

Clarinet Parents Guide Step 5: Equipment – Good quality equipment will help your player excel well in music. You actually do not have to go crazy and buy the “best” equipment ever made for clarinetists. However, low-balling the prices and getting the cheapest equipment is almost certain death to your child’s music studies.

Clarinet Parents Guide Step 6: Have the clarinet maintained at least annually by a quality instrument repair technician. My beginning clarinet teachers suggested I have the clarinet completely repadded? And re-corked once a year. My parents followed this to the tee and I believe this gave me a “leg-up” on my young competition.

Having the clarinet seal correctly, the keys working well, and joints fitting properly will give your young clarinetist the advantage. Instruments in poor repair are often the norm whether the instrument is school owned, rented, bought used, was handed down from a parent or sibling, or came new from a sloppily run music shop.

Clarinet Parents Guide Step 7: Listening – Get your young clarinetist to listen to the clarinet. Any clarinet recordings. One of the largest problems with young clarinetists is that they have no idea what a clarinet sounds like. They have no idea what the potential is to make great music on the instrument or how exciting it can sound. But, it is sound that they miss out on the most.

Clarinet Parents Guide Step 8: Along with listening to recorded music, take your young person to a LIVE concert. If a beginner or middle school clarinetist, take them to the high school or local college band concert.

If a community band, professional symphony or military band is in your town or county, take advantage of their LIVE music concerts.

Colleges, universities and conservatories often have chamber recitals that students give all of the time. Go to those live solo, duet or quartet clarinet recitals.

Clarinet Parents Guide Step 9: Have them take advantage of all the musical offerings their music teacher gives. If they offer extra music lessons before or after school, take advantage of it.

If offer honor band tryouts, all-county band tryouts or solo and ensemble auditions or recital, sign them up. Eventually, if they really take to the clarinet, find a private clarinet teacher to give them regular clarinet lessons.

Clarinet Parents Guide Step 10: Have your child socialize with other musicians at their level and especially more advanced levels. Playing duets with other clarinetists and finding clarinet/flute duets, clarinet/saxophone duets and any other combination is a great way to give them interest in playing clarinet.

If they are a beginner, introduce them to the senior high school clarinetist (that is perhaps in your neighborhood). That clarinetist might provide one great tip to your student like, “you should try the BG ligature, it makes a real big difference in my sound.” Or, “you should buy the Klose method book, it has a great fingering chart and more music and duets than you can imagine to practice.”

Whether it is an equipment tip, music tip or private clarinet teacher tip, the experience of the older clarinetist might help in some way.

Clarinet Parents Guide Step 11: Have them perform for you, your family or familiar adults in their lives. Having an “impromptu” concert is truly a good thing. Let’s say the Grandparent’s come to visit and Suzy Q. just learned Jingle Bells on the clarinet.

Have her go get the clarinet, put it together in front of the Grandparents, bring the music stand in the room, and let her go. She might even play Jingle Bells plus a majority of her current music lessons for them. This gives her a positive audience (kids performing for Grandparents are often a WIN-WIN situation for both parties) and some performance experience which allows her greater ease when she performs for larger audiences in the future.

Clarinet Parents Guide Step 12: Other important equipment for young clarinetists besides the clarinet: cork grease, clarinet swab, small screwdriver, mirror, sturdy music stand, metronome, tuner, mouthpiece cap.

Upgrades that make A LOT of difference to improve a young clarinetists success is: get a better clarinet mouthpiece, better clarinet ligature and at least a box of reeds once a month.          

Follow Clarinet-Now on Facebook.

Read more about the Giraffe Clarinet "Flight of the Bumblebee" video here.


Sheet Music Plus Homepage