by Minhye Kim
(Ilsan, South Korea)

I've been playing clarinet for about 8years.
But I'm still feeling that my basic techniques are not stable. Especially the legato problem. I feel harder to blow when I play clarion B,C,C#.
They need more air and power to make sound.
So when they're mixed up with the other notes which I can easily blow,I can't play the legato phrases nicely..... Sometimes it’s very subtle but usually very annoying. I do practice but can't see clearly. I want to know if there's any special reason or you can help me how to cure.
My biggest problem is with the clarion C# and the high Bb using K key. C#Bb is easy but BbC# connection is making me crazy.......
To you it may be an ununderstandable and small piece of cake,,,but please help me in detail..
My university entrance exam is one month left... I don't know what to do!!!!!

Thank you and for your amazing site,


Hello Minhye,

Thanks for the question. I hope things are well in Ilsan. I’m a little confused with your description as you mention clarion B,C,C# and then talk about high Bb using the K key. So, I’m going to write out some suggestions based on these notes:

In treble staff: B middle line, C and C# third space.

For your university entrance exam, have you had any clarinet teachers listen to you before the audition? Having a live person give you suggestions is the first and best place to go. You can get ideas on finding clarinet teachers here: Private Clarinet Teacher

2. “B, C, C# - They need more air and power to make sound.”
Also, an instrument repair-person should look at the clarinet. You might have a leaky pad or the pinky keys could have bent and are not covering the holes well. If your other ranges of the clarinet are playing well for you and these notes not so well, it could be a repair issue.

”C#Bb is easy but BbC# connection is making me crazy.......” When you play C# to Bb, your hands and embouchure are in place. You’ve set your embouchure to play a C# well and hands can easily cross you below the break to Bb.

Now, for ascending Bb to C#, I’m guessing your embouchure is not firm enough and your left hand position is close to a 90 degree angle to the clarinet. You are probably moving the chin as you ascend this interval. Look in a mirror and see if you are doing this.

Also, if your left hand is at a 90 degree angle, you have to move your wrist a good deal to make it to the C#. This could pull fingers off the tone holes and create a squeak or gap in legato.

Play short chromatic figures up and down. Try open G, G#, A, A# ascending and back down to A, Ab, G. Play these notes slurring/legato and repeat three times. Then, do the same pattern on G#. This will take you over the break. Keep your fingers as close to the instrument as possible as noted in Clarinet Left Hand Position . Do not move your jaw as in Crossing the Break suggestions. Look in a mirror while you are doing this and practice slowly. Then, carry this into your scales, arpeggios, thirds, etc…

Play that chromatic figure on G, G#, A, A#, B for starters.

It will take time to get used to these suggestions and are best accomplished with a quality clarinet teacher.

If you are in fact talking about high B/Bb, C, C# like B one ledger and space above staff, and C/C# two ledger lines above the staff, I would recommend you not use the chromatic banana key (K) on Bb to go to high C#. Use the side Bb fingering before you transfer to high C#. The technically is a smoother/easier transition.

Good luck on your exam and let me know how it turns out.


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