About the Clarinet
Types of Clarinets
B flat (B♭) Clarinet - This is the main clarinet that students begin on. It is fairly small in size and is the most widely used clarinet. When you are searching for reeds and instrument equipment, make sure you get it for the correct type of saxophone.
Bass Clarinet - After playing the B♭ Clarinet for some time, bass clarinet is an option for players. It is another common clarinet that is played in middle school (sometimes) and high school. It is larger than the Clarinet and plays lower notes. When you are searching for reeds and instrument equipment, make sure you get it for the correct type of saxophone.
Soak your reed.
Gently grab the lower joint with your left hand where your palms are resting underneath the instrument away from the keys and rods. Grab the bell with your right hand and carefully twist back-and-forth onto the lower joint on the side with the cork. Apply cork grease if needed.
Grently grab the upper joint with your right hand and press the rings of the D/A key with your fingers down in order to raise the bridge key. *Note: Remember to always have the D/A key pressed down when connecting to the lower joint and to not press any other keys on the lower joint because this will cause the bridge key to bend.
When connecting the upper joint with the lower joint, place the upper joint in your right hand and your lower joint in your left and perform gentle twists back-and-forth. Remember to keep D/A key pressed down whenever moving these two joints. Apply cork grease if needed.
Align the tone holes of the upper and lower joint and check if the bridge key section is aligned as well.
Grab your mouthpiece and then grab your barrel (notice that there is a wider and narrow end). Then, connect your mouthpiece to the narrower part of the barrel by twisting back-and-forth gently. Assemble your mouthpiece (refer back to assembling a mouthpiece section).
Connect the wider part of the barrel to the upper joint by using the same motion of going back-and-forth slowly on the cork. Align the face of the mouthpiece with the octave key that is behind the upper joint.
Wash your hands and clean the mouth of any food debris before each time you play the clarinet.
Take off the reed and swab your clarinet every time you use it. This is done by placing the weighted end of the swab in the bell and carefully pulling it through the instrument.
Disassemble your instrument in reverse order.
Change your reeds regularly to avoid molding. Wipe excess moisture from the reed before putting it back into the reed case/guard.
Brands: Vandoren, Rico Royale, La Voz
Sizes: 1.5 for beginners, 2 - 2.5 for intermediate, thicker for more advanced
Plastic mouthpiece cover/cap instead of a metal one
Swab, preferably silk (remember to not use one that has exposed metal to not scratch the inside of the instrument)
Reed case/guard to hold multiple reeds (optional)
Neck strap (optional if the clarinet is too heavy or puts too much strain on the right thumb)
Thumb cushion (optional)
Mouthpiece cushion (optional)
Buying (or Renting) a Clarinet
Buying a Clarinet
Buying your student an instrument is the best way to get them involved in the school band program. There are many options and instruments can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Make sure you look at user reviews and find an instrument that will work well. Spending extra money on better quality now will prevent you from spending hundreds on repairs later. Below are a couple of good resources for finding instruments. Please contact the band director to make sure the instrument you purchase is the right model and a good fit.
Renting a Clarinet
If you are unable to purchase an instrument, local music stores normally have some that you can rent. There's normally a monthly rental fee of $25 - $35 (or more). You will want to contact multiple music stores to see if they have any available. Please contact the band director if you have questions. Below are links to some local music stores.
Borrowing Instruments from School
Gridley Unified School District has a select number of instruments that can be loaned to students. Normally these instruments have been donated or well used by previous students. There is a limited number available. When students first start on their instrument, it is normal for them to borrow from the school; however, after 1 year the school hopes that students will be able to rent or buy their own instrument so that incoming students will be able to play on school instruments. The holiday season (November and December) is a great time to buy an instrument - especially if there are holiday sales. Please contact the band director if you have questions.