How to Improve Your Tone: A Guide For Clarinetists

6 July 2016
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There are few things as beautiful in this world as a clarinet being played well; if you are just starting out on a Buffet Clarinet R13 and hope to achieve the full, rich tone that make the pros sound so heavenly, read on for some tips on how exactly to achieve that. After all, it's important to get it right from the start so that you don't pick up any bad habits that need to be broken further along in your development as a player.

Make sure you have the correct embouchure

Having the correct embouchure when playing the clarinet is key if you want to achieve a rich tone. To check you're getting it right, look in a mirror and do the following:

  • Start with a relaxed jaw; this is crucial, as extra jaw pressure on your reed can constrict your sound.
  • Take your lower lip and slightly roll it over your bottom teeth; the teeth should be covered and not come into contact with the reed, but at the same time don't let too much bottom lip into your mouth or your reed will not be able to vibrate properly.
  • Next, firm the corners of your mouth inward from the centre, and rest your top teeth directly on the mouthpiece.
  • Close your mouth as if it's a drawstring, making sure there is equal support on all sides of the reed. Your chin will naturally drop and be slightly pointed.
  • Keep your top lip taut, which will open the back of your throat. Then fill the back of your throat with air and play a tone.

Be sure to fill your instrument with air

You'll never have a gorgeous tone if your instrument is not filled sufficiently with air, and to do this you need to make sure that you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm. A good rule of thumb to remember is if your shoulders move when you breathe in, you're not breathing correctly. When you breathe from your diaphragm, your stomach will rise and fall; that is when you know you're doing it right. This kind of breathing leads to a reduction in pressure in the upper body, which allows for air to enter the lungs. Practice breathing from your diaphragm daily and you should really notice a difference in your tone. If you're having trouble telling if you're doing it properly, this guide designed for singers should help.

Play long notes

Playing long notes on your clarinet will not only help with tone quality, it will also help with breath control and help you develop a sense of whether you are playing in tune or not. For a few minutes each day, play long notes in all registers of your instrument and really pay attention to your sound. Pay special attention to the higher register, where the notes may sound a little shallow or weedy. With regular practice, even the higher notes should start to sound warm and more full.

Take the development of your tone as seriously as you do your scales and arpeggios and you'll be sounding like a pro in no time!