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 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?
Author: Green Henry 
Date:   2019-05-07 10:31

Hi Hirundo

Good question. I started three years ago when I was 57. Here's my two pence worth:
- I started by renting a Yamaha 255. As people say above, you never know whether you'll like it; I found out quickly that I love it (not the same as finding I was particularly good at it!) and I bought the 255, which I still have. It's well made and I still play it. As a beginner a new instrument from a reputable maker was a good move for me, I think. Anything like a small leak in a clarinet will make it almost impossible to play and a beginner is likely to blame themselves and be tempted to give up. (As an aside, Fuzzy above mentioned accidentally damaging the instrument and you really should get someone to show you how to assemble it without risking bending anything right at the start: they are weirdly intricate and clumsily bending a key is all too easy!)

- That said, I upgraded to the Yamaha 455 model a while ago. It feels identical in the hands and to play though as it's wooden it feels heavier. I think it sounds better, but it can be really hard to tell!

- I have a need for two instruments as I spend time in two locations and play in ensembles in both, and as a 60th birthday present / reward for passing the ABRSM Grade 5 exam recently I'm going to upgrade the 255, ideally leapfrogging the 455. It's really difficult to choose an instrument, even though I'm confident enough now to try second hand. I'm trying out a second hand Buffet E13. I think it sounds better (sweeter) but can't really make my mind up.

- Right at the start I expect you will find it difficult to get a consistent note out of it, but if you can, one tip is to play facing a wall. You hear the sound bouncing off the wall better than if you are in the middle of the room. The sound mainly comes out of the holes, not the bell (I think).

- The sound is significantly affected by reeds and mouthpieces. That's a very deep rabbit hole to dive into though. For the current quandary I spent an hour yesterday recording myself play three different short pieces on each of two instruments with two mouthpieces and two reeds. Eight versions to compare! And there are hundreds of types of reed and mouthpiece. I think it's added to my confusion.

- Practice is a magical thing: spending half an hour trying unsuccessfully to do something, with no apparent progress, then finding the next day that you can do it somewhat better. So if one instrument seems better at first, the other might be better after you've practised with it for a while.

- At first half an hour was as long as I could manage to play, but again, as if by magic, I now find I can play for 90 minutes without getting too tired.

- A warning: when I retired learning the clarinet was one of quite a few things I was going to do - maybe a Masters in maths? maybe a lot of travelling? Cycle tours, walking trails? Uh oh. I've become obsessed with playing the clarinet! Lesson, practice, four ensembles, bit of swimming and housework - it fills up the week.

- I'm glad I have though: along with all the frustration you get moments of real bliss. As soon as you can, join an ensemble and play with other people. You will improve faster and you will get that wonderful feeling of the whole being more than the sum of the parts.

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 Topics Author  Date
 Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
hirundo 2019-05-06 20:36 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
hans 2019-05-06 21:29 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
Ursa 2019-05-06 22:38 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
Ed 2019-05-06 22:58 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
dorjepismo 2019-05-06 23:04 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
Paul Aviles 2019-05-07 01:22 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
nellsonic 2019-05-07 09:01 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
Fuzzy 2019-05-07 09:30 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
Green Henry 2019-05-07 10:31 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
hirundo 2019-05-19 05:02 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
RKing 2019-05-07 16:57 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
Erez Katz 2019-05-07 23:04 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
hans 2019-05-09 07:34 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
Ashle TK 2019-05-07 23:13 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
NOLA Ken 2019-05-09 06:03 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
TomS 2019-05-10 08:34 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
bmcgar 2019-05-19 19:49 
 Re: Start clarinet on a pro instrument?  new
SunnyDaze 2019-05-24 20:28 


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