Question on breathy clarinet sound

by Mark

Hi I have just begun the clarinet,

luckily I have had a bit of experience with woodwinds all my life.Gettin the sound is no prob, except I go through some days where the tone seems overly breathy how do I correct this.

Also what number reed is good for a newbie?




Hey Mark,

Thanks for the question. For a new clarinetist, I would have you start on 2.5 strength reeds. 2.0 are always too soft in my opinion. However, if you are getting the "breathy" sound with 2.5 reeds, move to 2.0.

Now, how often are you rotating your reeds? Are you staying on one reed for a very long time? If so, you are probably "killing" that reed. Take a look at my page on Clarinet Reed Adjustment. Pay special attention to information about Rotating Your Reeds.

By overplaying the reed, I used the term "killing", you are wearing it out too fast and therefore probably getting a breathy or airy sound intermittantly until you put a new reed on the mouthpiece.

Always strive for a clear sound. Overplaying clarinet reeds can create airy, breathy or scrambled eggs sizziling sounds.

Another possibility is fatigue. Your mouth is probably getting tired and creating the breathy sound.

One more possibility is that if you have played other woodwinds, that includes the saxophone. The clarinet embouchure is much more firm than the saxophone embouchure. Your facial muscles might have to "build-up" a little while as you bite down more for clarinet.

A loose embouchure on clarinet can make your sound airy.

If you have a chance, take some clarinet lessons in your area. Check my page on finding a Private Clarinet Teacher here.

Hopefully, some of these options will help you clear up the "breathy" sound. Best of luck to you and keep on practicing.


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