The Clarinet is part of the woodwind family along with the saxophone, flute, oboe and recorder. It is constructed from 5 main parts; the mouthpiece, barrel, upper & lower joint and finally the bell. Sound is produced by air passing over a reed held in place by a ligature on the mouthpiece, the vibration travels down the instrument and sound is produced from the bell. The most common first clarinet is the B Flat Clarinet. Other clarinets do exist however including the Alto and Bass Clarinet.

The Clarinet is a hugely popular instrument due to its playability and versatility - a fantastic way to introduce yourself to the woodwind family. Clarinets are relatively inexpensive to buy, have low maintenance costs and are easy to handle, making them the ideal instrument for young musicians or wannabe band members.


Here are a few examples where you can hear the clarinet in action...

This performance of Rimsky-Korkakov’s Capriccio Espagnol Op.34 demonstrates the agility and control of the clarinet.
This recording of the first movement of Beethoven’s Clarinet trio in B flat shows how the sound of the clarinet fits with other instruments and how it’s flexibility leads to different performance opportunities.

Clarinet Concerto in A major shows the clarinet’s ability to project its sound over an orchestra.

This clarinet features in George Gershwin’s
Rhapsody in Bluedemonstrate the flexibility of the clarinet and the effects it can create.

The clarinet is very flexible with regards to performance opportunities. It is not only classical music that can be performed on the clarinet, but it is also greatly appreciated in the folk and jazz music scenes around the world.

Balkan Traditional music

Jazz Clarinet – Glenn Miller, Moonlight Serenade.

FUN FACT: The word Clarinet literally means little trumpet. It's related to the word 'clarion', which is a kind of little trumpet that is loud and clear!

Get Started


Here are the key items that we recommend you need to get you started on the road to becoming a great clarinet player!

As a beginner you will require a B Flat Clarinet. The clarinet itself can be purchased or put on a hire/purchase scheme. It comes in one standard size, we recommend...

Buffet B12 Clarinet

The Buffet B12 Clarinet - a high quality Resin instrument that is currently the best-selling student model of clarinet in the UK. It is recommended by most teachers and professionals. When you start playing an instrument it's critical it makes the process as easy as possible.

If you're spending money on lessons, books etc. it is not advisable to buy a poor student model that is difficult to play and has bad tuning. This particular model is reliable and relatively inexpensive.


There are a vast array of helpful clarinet accessories on the market than can really make a difference to your development and comfort.

The essential accessory to your clarinet is a reed as this is what produces the sound at the mouthpiece.

Clarinet Reeds
Like most other things, clarinet reeds come in a variety of types, shapes and materials. Beginners are always advised use reeds of 1½ strength (the strength is the thickness of the reed). As your embouchure develops, you will gradually use reeds of a higher strength to produce a warmer and rounder sound.

To start, we recommend Rico Bb Clarinet Reeds. Rico is currently the world’s most popular manufacturer of reeds, we stock them in packs of 3 and boxes of 10.
Clarinet Stand
We recommend the investment in a collapsible clarinet stand which will fit in your case and ensure your new clarinet is not accidentally knocked over in lessons and rehearsals which could damage it and require specialist repair. Displaying your instrument on a stand also encourages you to play it more frequently as you pass by it every day. The K&M Clarinet Stand combines high quality with portability - simply screw the feet off and they fit inside the stand - the whole stand then usually fits inside your clarinet's bell inside your case!
Clarinet Strap
Whilst most clarinettists don't require the use of a neck strap, if you are standing to play for long periods or struggling to balance it initially, a clarinet strap can be a simple and affordable solution to increase your comfort when playing. Neotech Clarinet Straps are really comfortable and their unique technology makes the clarinet feel lighter by distributing the weight of your clarinet more effectively.

Cleaning and Care

Like all members of the woodwind family, the care and maintenance of your clarinet is hugely important in order to keep it working well and minimizing repair costs. Here are some tools we recommend to ensure the maintenance of your instrument:

Reed Cases

Reeds are susceptible to chipping and breaking if they are not protected properly, Reed Guard's by Rico are small plastic cases in which to store and protect up to 4 reeds that are not in use. A very inexpensive investment that can save you frequent visits to your reed supplier.

Over time, your saliva will build up inside your clarinet and eventually deteriorate the main body and pads underneath the keys - a weighted clarinet pull through used each time you finish playing will remove any excess quickly.
By placing pad savers into the instrument when it is not in use, the absorbent material draws excess moisture from the pads preserving them for longer. By using a pad saver such as Rico Clarinet Padguard can ultimately keep your instrument's pads intact for longer and so reducing servicing costs.
A mouthpiece saver works in the same way as the pad saver but is small in size to fit inside just the mouthpiece when it is not in use. The saver draws the corrosive saliva from the reed and inside of the mouthpiece, preventing corrosion and preserving the delicate reeds from deterioration. A mouthpiece saver is a vital investment to reduce the frequency of puchasing new reeds.
Putting the clarinet together and taking it apart will become a regular occurrence when you are cleaning it and putting it back in its case etc. You need to always have the cork that connects each joint greased to prevent it drying out and cracking. The cork is vital to the clarinet, it keeps the joints held together and consequently the instrument air tight. Cork Grease by Rico is inexpensive and can make all the difference to the lifespan of your new clarinet.

Beginner Books

Here are the best selling clarinet tutor books for beginners:

Abracadabra Clarinet guides a complete beginner from the earliest stages of musical education to become a competent and self-confident clarinettist. It is full of exciting musical styles and popular short songs. There is also Abracadabra Clarinet with CD available which includes fun backing tracks to play along to.

Team Woodwind Clarinet begins with a step by step guide that talks you through the instrument and basic music theory. It moves through the notes of the clarinet, gradually building up your ability to play the variety of short pieces included towards the end of the book. The book contains a wide variety of musical styles with which you can play along with the CD, from the Baroque and Classical eras to film, folk, jazz and Latin American. The variety makes it fun to learn and shows you how flexible the flute is and the opportunities that are available.

Clarinet Basics by Paul Harris starts at absolute beginner level and progresses to about Grade 2. There are 22 stages, each section includes a wonderful variety of concert pieces from the great composers, traditional tunes and fun, original exercises, 'finger gyms' and 'warm ups' to help establish a sound technique, 'factfiles' and 'quizzes' to teach notation and general musicianship, helpful, clear 'fingering charts' and 'rhythm boxes' and great illustrations. There is also a Clarinet Basics with CD edition available which contains fun backing tracks to all the pieces as well as providing additional parts for the duets and trios.

Finding a Clarinet Teacher

It is highly recommended when starting an instrument to employ a qualified teacher to make the learning process interesting and fun. Teachers can be found across the UK at schools, local music services and musicteachers.co.uk or if you live in our locality please do not hesitate to contact us for details of suitable teachers.

Music Centres - playing in orchestras & ensembles

Music centres are set up in many towns to give students an opportunity to meet like-minded people whilst putting their playing into practice. The centres often have a wide variety of ensembles which you can join if you wish. It provides great opportunities to perform in concert situations across the UK and even sometimes Europe. Here is a list of Music Centres/Services in the UK.

This resource was written by:

Sarah Hayward

Sarah Hayward Bmus (hons), MA

Sarah is a sprightly coloratura soprano and active violin and viola player who enjoys interacting with other musicians and teaching her students. Sarah is part of DS Music’s Education Outreach & Marketing Team and is passionate about the expansion and Educational Outreach of the company in order to help give everyone the opportunity to access music. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Music has the power to change people so help me use it to change the world!! :)

You’ve recently looked at...