Blowing the lowest note on the clarinet the lower e

by Brian
(Pontypridd South-Wales UK)

Learning to play the lower e note for the first time, and all I'm getting is an high pitched shriek. No problem with other notes so far.


Hello Brian,

Welcome to the clarinet! I'm glad you asked this question. You probably have one of two issues at least (1.) Not covering all of the tones completely, Or (2.) your trying to lip down for the low note.

On number 1,
look in a mirror and see if the pads of your fingers are completely covering the tone holes. Even a slight air-leak will cause squeaks when the holes are not covered. Since you are using the left pinky to push down the low E key, this could pull your other left hand fingers off the tone holes.

On number 2, just because you are going to the lowest note does not mean you need to loosen the embouchure pressure of the teeth or lips. If you open the mouth up for a lower note, this embouchure adjustment will cause leaks. Keep the same embouchure you had on all of the other successful notes for low E.

Bonus consideration, watch out for your left hand thumb, if it is accidentally pushing down the register key (just above the left thumb tone hole), that will send you into an upper higher register (known as the clarion register). Also, your left hand index finger could accidentally touch the A or G# keys to create squeaks. Paying attention to the left hand position while playing low E is important.

Here is a practical exercise to help you with the low E. Play low G then low F. Now, play the notes back and forth G, F, G, F, G, F, G. Make it so you are connecting the notes very smoothly.

Now, try low F and then low E. If you can do this once well, then try the back and forth like before, except with the notes F, E, F, E, F, E. Look in a mirror during this exercise. Watch to see that your fingers are staying on the tone holes.

Give these a try and let me know if it works for you. Best of luck practicing clarinet. Give my regards to all the clarinetists of Pontypridd South-Wales UK.


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