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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001173.txt from 1997/09

From: "Edwin V. Lacy" <>
Subj: Re: Choosing a clarinet, etc.
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 1997 11:39:50 -0400

On Fri, 26 Sep 1997, Delagi, Nancy wrote:

> At the ripe old age of 33 I've decided I want to play the clarinet.
> I've never played an instrument before and can't read music yet. Benny
> Goodman is my inspiration and I'd eventually like to play his music, but
> I'm thinking I should start with classical training and learn jazz
> later. Is this the right way to go?
> I'd like to get some help in choosing an instrument and I'm intimidated
> by what I've read here over the past week. Buy or rent; wood or
> plastic; B-flat or E-flat or contra-alto; Boehm vs. somebody,
> cylindrical bore, embouchure, reeds, ligature, breathing, let's not even
> mention fingering charts yet! I know more than I did a week ago but I
> don't feel at all qualified to make a decision. Would it be best to
> find an instructor first and let him advise? How can I tell if I've
> found a good instructor? Is there a FAQ, web site or book that has a
> comprehensive explanation of how and what to choose?

The answers to your questions are: yes, no, no, yes, yes and no. ;-)

Seriously, yes, for the most effective and efficient learning, you should
have a teacher and you should follow your teacher's advice. This can
eliminate the problem of learning bad habits and then having to re-learn

For a beginner, the question of which instrument can be greatly
simplified. Get a "starter horn" from one of the standard manufacturers.
I like Yamaha's beginning level instruments, but there are others, such as
Evette (now known as the Buffet B-12), Vito, and Bundy (these last three
in descending order of desirability, in my opinion).

If you eventually get serious about learning to play well, you will want
to upgrade to a better instrument. That being the case, don't spend too
much for a starter clarinet. You probably can find a used one by one of
the major manufacturers. There are hundreds of thousands of them in
closets and attics, no longer being played. Check your local newspaper's
classified advertising. If you buy a used one, you will want to have it
checked out by an experienced clarinetist - preferably, the one who will
become your teacher.

Get a standard, middle-of-the-road mouthpiece, such as the Woodwind G8 or
the Van Doren B45. If you have never played before, for the first few
weeks or months almost any brand of reed will do, so long as it vibrates
well and so long as you have not chosen a brand which requires a lot of
adjustment and/or break in before being playable. On all these matters,
follow the advice of your teacher.

For adult beginners, it is hard to beat the good old, trusted,
tried-and-true Rubank series of instructional materials.

That's at least one person's opinion about the least traumatic way for an
adult beginner to get started. There are many others. Choose your
teacher carefully. And, have fun!

Ed Lacy
Dr. Edwin Lacy University of Evansville
Professor of Music 1800 Lincoln Avenue
Evansville, IN 47722 (812)479-2754

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