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 Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: gwie 
Date:   2017-11-05 07:30

Why don't we see these on the market? Is the market for them too small?

Buffet Prodige A Clarinet
Yamaha YCL-255A Clarinet
Backun Alpha A Clarinet

A $4000+ A clarinet is out of the question for lots of students and programs, but if someone produced one of similar quality to their excellent student-level synthetic instruments around the $1000-$1200 price point, I imagine that many of us would outfit our students and programs with them!

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: zhangray4 
Date:   2017-11-05 07:54

I'll be honest here, most students who need A clarinets are those who are in some high level orchestra or those who plan on being music majors since the beginning of high school.

Most high school students do not need A clarinets. They perform in concert bands and marching bands where A clarinet parts are nonexistent. A lot of high schools, mine included, do not have orchestras. For the schools that do, most of them aren't that good, and they won't be playing classical works. Like our music department combined the strings group with some wind players to form a very amateur orchestra (3 violins, 2 violas, 1 cello, 1 bass, 3 flutes, 1 oboe, 2-3 clarinets, no bassoon, 2 trumpets, 4 horns...) and there's no way we would be able to play some Beethoven or Brahms. The strings are mostly beginners and there are not enough of them as well. So we played Lord of the Rings and Forest Gump for our last concert. Definitely no A clarinet part.

There are schools with good orchestras, but not as much. So the demand for A clarinets priced for students are rare. Most people in my band don't know that A clarinets even existed, including my entire clarinet section.

-- Ray Zhang

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: gwie 
Date:   2017-11-05 10:50

Well, it really does depend on where you live.

In Orange County, CA, where I am, there are 10+ youth orchestras within a half hour driving distance (I direct one of them). In my program alone, there are 70+ violinists! Our concert this past week included Mozart's Figaro Overture, Glazunov's Serenade, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 6.

In a number of the high schools here, there are 2-3 orchestras in each one, with the top ones all playing symphonic repertoire that involves A clarinet. I'm *constantly* being asked by families to help them locate A clarinets for their students, but most music stores only have a few available for sale that are very expensive, and even fewer rent them. I've loaned my A clarinet out to students more times than I can keep track of.

Post Edited (2017-11-05 10:51)

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2017-11-05 13:44

Thomann has a very cheap grenadilla made one on offer. And they do ship to the US, so that might be worth looking into.
For occasional use, my Amati ACL371 I got for less than 500€ is just fine, though the intonation could be better.
Good student orchestras or high schools *should* seriously consider lending an A clarinet to their instrumentalists. Or at least offer transposed parts.

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2017-11-06 01:15

I think the answer to original post is Yes - the student market for A clarinets is too small to be economic.

By the time a student needs an A clarinet they will have reached the stage where they want something better than a "student grade" A instrument.

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: zhangray4 
Date:   2017-11-06 04:30

I agree with Caroline. Being a student myself, I know what its like. I live near LA, and every year many people from our county, as small as it is, get selected to perform in an All State Ensemble, whether it be the band or orchestra, and a few receive the opportunity to play in ensembles at the national level (NAfME). As for me, I have been blessed to play in an All State ensemble for 4 years in a row now and performed in the All National Honor Band about 2 years ago.

I've talked to many of the students there, especially at the state level. You would be surprised that although most probably do come from schools with superb music programs, their orchestra programs are poor; at least not as good as most programs in Orange County, the place Mr. Wie resides. The majority say that their school's orchestra is either pretty poor (or simply nonexistent such as my case). If there orchestras are poor, there would be no need for A clarinets. If there orchestras are somewhat good, then they would maybe need A clarinets. Maybe because they would probably get a few music that has A clarinet parts, and they would probably transpose it instead of buying an A clarinet. Only if there orchestra programs are great and superb will they need to actually purchase A clarinets. And if there school's orchestra program is really at that level, then the musicians that make up the orchestra should be serious and committed students, unlike most people in my band. And if they are serious and committed, they probably have a pretty decent Bb, and would not fret as much to get a matching A clarinet.

This is sort of how I worked it out logically, do not hesitate to let me know if I made a false assumption somewhere.

-- Ray Zhang

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: Ed Lowry 
Date:   2017-11-06 07:10

Check out Ridenour's A clarinet. It's not a "student" model as he describes them as pro quality. But less than $2k. Some people love 'em. Others don't. But he has a good return policy so you can try them out. I have one of his C clarinets and it's terrific for me.

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: Wes 
Date:   2017-11-06 08:47

Some of us learned to transpose A clarinet parts at a young age and it was not so hard. I bought a very old Buffet A in college for a minimal cost.

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-11-06 09:34

There are student level A clarinets available - only they're a bit higher up the lineage in the intermediate range compared to entry level plastic clarinets.

Off the top of my head, the various intermediate level clarinets in both Bb and A on offer were/are:

Amati 300 series
B&H Edgware and Emperor
Buffet E11 (Schreiber), E13 and C12 (Buffet)
Noblet (Leblanc) Artist
Leblanc Esprit
Selmer (London) Sterling/Console/Gold Seal (made by Malerne or Dolnet)
Yamaha 650

... and I suspect several others too.

None of the large American companies offered A clarinets - they supplied pro level A clarinets from their French counterparts.

But what would be good if there were entry level plastic C clarinets such as a B12/Prodige C clarinet.

Former oboe finisher
Howarth of London
1998 - 2010

The opinions I express are my own.

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: sax panther 
Date:   2017-11-06 13:35

when I was in school/youth orchestras, I went shopping for a second hand A clarinet. Ended up with a B&H Emperor from a local-ish music shop for a few hundred £ which took me all the way through university. You don't have to buy new.

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: Hy-Dex 
Date:   2017-11-06 23:11

Why not consider a good used professional model A clarinet? Although they may not be available in abundance, they are out there and available for less than new.

[ edited - GBK ]

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: Ursa 
Date:   2017-11-07 04:05

I find myself in agreement with Chris P--an entry-level plastic C clarinet would be a nice option to have, as well as an entry-level A.

An A clarinet is awfully nice to have for playing accompanied by a guitar, as the easy keys/scales on the A clarinet are also guitar-friendly--which is absolutely not the case for a B-flat instrument. Surely it would be nice to have an affordable worry-free plastic A option for those many times when a wooden instrument isn't appropriate.

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: TomS 
Date:   2017-11-08 18:38

Ridenour would be a good one ... and the Buffet E11 goes for under $2200.00 ... none of these are cheap ... biggest problem is finding a good match for the B-flat.


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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2017-11-09 23:11

I played a bit Mozart again on my Amati and it is a wonderful sounding horn, so mellow and dark that I prefer it to my RC, though it has a "rougher" keywork, the wood is nicer!

Unfortunately, 2-3 notes are way off, but I'm sure they've improved since my Instrument is a bit older and lay around as an absolute shopkeeper for years, so... In doubt for the accused. Also, I had another Amati that intonated pretty well.

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: fromsfca 
Date:   2017-11-10 07:31

I play a Ridenour A....cost me $525, used.

I needed one to play 2 weeks of Into the Woods...and have a Mozart quintet gig coming up....in 40 years playing professionally, 1st time I needed one.

So, yes the market is small.

However, the Ridenour is fine...I may be willing to sell after I'm done with the Mozart.

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: Geronimo 
Date:   2017-11-13 03:39

Agreed, the market is almost non-existent depending on location. My experience is that (in the US at least) the majority of students k-12 will be in bands and not orchestras. I can't think of a single example of wind band literature that calls for an A clarinet.

The exception would be if a particular student got into a community orchestra or all state orchestra. Or if they wanted to learn older solo literature and/or chamber music. But in the latter it would make much more sense to transpose the parts to Bb.

Really the only people who need A clarinets are music majors and professional performers. Comparatively, not much market attached all for a student A clarinet.


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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2017-11-13 05:27

It might also be that the market is small in part because they aren’t available. People don’t have them so we don’t play the stuff that requires them. If playing A is required as a professional, I think it should be required of students.

As far as high school: There is abundant literature, some of which is in the Rubank solo book (transposed or not). The chamber music is doable using mixed ensembles or clarinets. I played in a lot of chamber groups. It’s not necessary that a large band or orchestra be your primary outlet. Even then, how many school orchestras have woodwinds? They should. I expect a small reason they do not is that no one has an A, just like hardly anyone plays oboe or bassoon. Kids aren’t taught orchestral excerps, but they could be. If kids could get one, they would find a use for it. I remember some of our marching music, as well as pit band music, in 5+ sharps and flats.

Using A is something the music community has decided not to do, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I think it would be better for music if we did.

- Matthew Simington

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 Re: Where are the student A clarinets?
Author: CapnCheapo 
Date:   2017-11-13 17:22

“I can't think of a single example of wind band literature that calls for an A clarinet.”

John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine and Percy Grainger’s In a Nutshell come to mind. However, neither of them require a full section of A clarinets. I’ll bet there are others if you stray a bit from the mainstream band literature.

Post Edited (2017-11-13 17:23)

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