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 Old clarinet beginner
Author: Mikeisnomusician 
Date:   2019-11-18 08:08

My username describes myself well. I’m no musician, but I’m going to give it a shot. Way back in my school days, (56 now) I enjoyed trying to learn to play several different instruments, keyword being trying. I just couldn’t get the hang of any of them. I’m no artist, music, painting, home decor, anything. I’ve always been more scientific, mechanical, and technical. Math is easy. I do any kind of home renovations. I can repair pretty much anything, and I’ve even invented a few little things, but learning to play a clarinet is going to take a miracle, and that’s what I’m hoping for.

I go to church regularly, and I love singing, but if I ever sung a solo, everyone would leave. It’s a very small church and the only instrument is the accordion played by the pastor’s wife. I want to learn to play something, and after much research, decided to go with the clarinet, so I bought one on eBay. Mendini by Cecilio (MCT-E). I will have it in about a week and will then take a few lessons and see if there is any chance of learning how to play it good enough to play the odd song in church. I would like to just learn how to play one of our simple choruses at first, hopefully within a month or two, then go from there.

I will probably have the occasional question once in a while, once I start trying, and will ask my instructor most of the questions, but for now I just have one question.

Can ANYONE learn how to play a clarinet if they really want to, or is there a chance that some people, like myself, just can’t ever be a clarinet player? I’m hoping I can learn to play it, and just play it by sound to songs I know.

mike@mikessites.net

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Late_returner 
Date:   2019-11-18 14:04

Hi Mike
Welcome to the site, and good luck !
Yes I think virtually everyone can reach a basic standard where simple tunes are possible. There is a saying " clarinet is easy to learn, a lifetime to master" But fortunately you dont need to be a master.
Its good your organising some lessons. As well as starting you off the teacher can help you understand whats important within the maze of conflicting advice you are about to read, and the stuff you dont need until later ( or never).
My own modest offerings are ....
1/ Try not to become obsessed by equipment issues. Easier said than done !
2/ There is a lot of web video advice , much of it free. The site Clarinet Mentors ( Michelle Anderson) is excellent and is specially designed with adult learners / starters in mind.

Here's to your first open G !



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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Mikeisnomusician 
Date:   2019-11-18 17:16

Thanks. I’ve read and watched a lot about learning to play, and the key reason for taking at least a few lessons is because I probably could learn to make sounds without a teacher, but if I don’t start off properly, I’ll never get to be good. None of us in church are professional singers, especially our pastor, so they won’t care if I become an excellent player. I just want to be good enough that I don’t give everyone a headache. lol

I will check out that clarinet mentors site.

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-11-18 17:21

Suggestions...
*Find a teacher who you like. 'Audition' a few and shop around before choosing one. Finding the correct teacher for your personality and goals is important.
*Have your teacher try your equipment and confirm you won't have to fight it to get results.
*With your math skills, it might be very interesting to learn how the clarinet works. There are many sources on-line and in book format to understand the mechanics and acoustics of the clarinet. Googling "clarinet acoustics" will get you started and the book "Clarinet Acoustics" by Lee Gibson is a classic.

At 56 you are a young guy and this can be a rewarding hobby to pursue. Visit here often, there are many helpful posters here.

Good Luck!



Post Edited (2019-11-18 17:22)

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2019-11-18 18:51

Welcome, Mike!

Yes, anyone can learn to play. It does take patience though. You're not going to be sounding like a pro within a few short weeks...It does require at least a small amount of practice every day to keep things from feeling foreign to you each time you play.

The suggestions provided by Late_Returner and Ken above are great...especially about having your teacher try your equipment to make sure it doesn't hold you back or create problems for you.

One very important thing to know (when playing hymns with the piano, accordion, or other non-Bb instruments)...you'll need a Bb/transposed music to read from (or you'll need to learn to transpose.) It will be a while before you're ready for that...but just remember that when you're ready to play with non-Bb instruments, that you can't read directly from the same music the non-Bb instrument is playing from.

Glad to hear you chose the clarinet. It is a beautiful instrument and loads of fun to play!

Fuzzy



Post Edited (2019-11-18 22:34)

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Mikeisnomusician 
Date:   2019-11-18 19:55

Thanks. As for finding the best teacher, there’s only one in my area, that I can find. It is definitely a good idea to have him test my clarinet, especially because it’s not a high end one.

Ken, you piqued my curiosity about learning the acoustics of it. It’ll be fun studying how it actually works, and knowing how it works might make it easier to get the hang of playing it.

I plan to at least play with it a little every day. The part I think will be hardest for me will be the breathing. I’ve never smoked, yet my lungs aren’t very good. I can’t even hold my breath for more than 15 seconds. I have to practice that.

I was wondering about reading from the music. Until last night I knew nothing about sheet music. I still know very little but have figured out that I will need to look for the sheets for songs I want to play. I’m hoping that as I get to know my notes, I’ll be able to play along with any of the simpler songs by ear. Even if I miss or mess a note here and there, a clarinet will sound better than my voice. :D

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-11-18 20:03

Mike, lucky you!
Rhythm is all math - actually 'binary' math. 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 etc and other math relationships, 2-3 conversions etc.
Pitches, high vs low are related to clarinet length, until you disrupt the sound waves by odd overtones (just tweaking your curiosity!)



Post Edited (2019-11-18 20:40)

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Mikeisnomusician 
Date:   2019-11-18 20:34

Ken Lagace wrote:

> Mike, lucky you!
> Rhythm is all math - actually 'binary' math. 1, 2, 4, 6, 16 etc
> and other math relationships, 2-3 conversions etc.
> Pitches, high vs low are related to clarinet length,

Simple stuff :)

> until you
> disrupt the sound waves by odd overtones (just tweaking your
> curiosity!)

That I’ll leave for later. :D

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-11-18 22:36

Hi Mike,

I'm the same. I tinkered with many instruments unsuccessfully as a teenager and switched to the clarinet at 43. I actually think that having a good mind for engineering and invention is a huge plus with the clarinet. I'm a research scientist in my career and also a bit of an inventor, and it really helps a lot. Most of the problems I've had with the clarinet have been definitely to do with the engineering of the instrument so having that kind of mind is a huge plus.

I think that finding an encouraging teacher who doesn't try to push you to get into contortions is important. If they try to make you do anything with your mouth that hurts then that is a bad sign I think. Making you feel encouraged and making it an enjoyable pastime is good, I think. Make sure to start with a soft reed (like a 1.5), as that is the way to get a sound out when you start.

I find that watching loads of youtube videos helps immensely. the clarinetmentors videos are great, especially when you are starting.

I started with "a tune a day" books and then went on to the ABRSM grade books. I found that they chose really rewarding tunes to play and that made it very enjoyable and I got certificate at the end of each. The new version of "tune a day" book 1 has a great fingering chart in it.

Good luck and please do keep posting. I will be reading along and enjoying the answers that you get too, as I also need them. :-)

Jen

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Mikeisnomusician 
Date:   2019-11-19 01:57

Thanks Jen. Luckily there is a music store near me so I can buy reeds and other things needed without having to order them online. It’ll be fun even trying different reeds and see how they affect the music.

I will post here with updates on how I’m doing, and probably more questions too.

I checked the shipping status of my clarinet and it says 2 more weeks. Oh well. 56 years. What’s 2 more weeks right? lol

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-11-19 03:25

Hi Mike,

That's great that you have a music store nearby. That will really help. To be a successful (and cheerful) clarinettist you also need to find a clarinet technician, which is someone who will be able to replace pads or adjust them if they are letting air through, and do other small things for you. It might be someone far away that you have to post the instrument to, but if you can find someone who can do this stuff, then your life will be much easier. Clarinets seem to be a bit like cars in that they only run well with constant minor maintenance. (My other instrument is a violin, which works pretty well with no lessons and no maintenance. The clarinet is really not like that.)

It might be that you need to go to the clarinet teacher there and find out who that person goes to get work done on their instrument. This is a bit of research that you can do while you wait for the instrument though.

Once you have the instrument for more than a few weeks, it will also really help if you can try a few different mouthpieces and ligatures to get one that suits you. Might you be able to tell us what instrument you have bought and which mouthpiece/ligature it comes with? My early months were plagued with troubles that just melted away when I got the mouthpiece/ligature combination right.

I'm sorry to hear about the 2 week wait. I'm on tenterhooks for you now too. :-)

Jen

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Mikeisnomusician 
Date:   2019-11-19 03:53

It’s the Mendini by Cecilio (MCT-E). Auction didn’t say what mouthpiece, just that it was only used a few times. I will ask the instructor about that.

mike@mikessites.net

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: hans 
Date:   2019-11-19 05:03

Mike,

Re: "only used a few times" - You will want to clean it carefully, but do not use hot water; mouthpieces can warp. Your music store should be able to sell you the right cleaning product.

Regards,
Hans

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: ClarinetColt 
Date:   2019-11-19 15:54

Welcome to the Clarinet club Mike. I am an adult learner in my 40s although I do have a musical background and played Saxophone to a relatively good standard. I had never considered the clarinet until I met my husband who still had his old Bundy from his school days. I had a little go and fell in love.

My aim is to try and get to a good enough level to be able to join my local town band.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.

Sarah

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Mikeisnomusician 
Date:   2019-11-20 02:27

Thanks everyone. With all the help and advice from here, I’ll be making music soon.

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Katrina 
Date:   2019-11-20 17:49

I'm going to disagree with Jen/Sunnydaze above and recommend that you start at least with a #2 reed if not #2.5. Your air won't strengthen with the 1.5 and you'll develop a decent sound quicker.

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-11-20 18:10

Katrina,

I think it depends on the strength of embouchure and the brand of reed. I've been playing for a year and still can't get a good sound from a vandoren classic 2.5, but I can easily play a Vandoren V12 2.5. For someone in Mike's position who needs a quick win to give him confidence to keep going, I'm just thinking that it's good that he should know that softer reeds are the easier way to go if he is struggling initially to get a sound, and that he can then gradually work up to harder ones.

Jen

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-11-20 18:24

Reed strength depends on the mouthpiece facing. For a beginner, best suggestion is to play to something comfortable. #5s are too soft on some mouthpieces and #1s too hard. Comfort is a better way for now.

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Mikeisnomusician 
Date:   2019-11-20 22:48

Come on now, don’t argue. ;) I’m being smart. I ordered a few different reeds so I can experiment and see what works best.

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Green Henry 
Date:   2019-11-23 03:49

I started nearly four years ago at age 57. I thought it would be a nice hobby. It's not: it's a hard road with no ending but well worth it. Playing music with others is the most joyful thing (for me) - 57 wasted years, but making up for lost time. You have to practise, and think about how to practise. And be honest - "oh that'll do" won't work. A teacher is essential but they can't actually teach you, you have to teach yourself. The teacher just helps you do that. And as a late starter, I often play with returners my age. I have the advantage that I don't have a vague memory of a) being better once and never getting back to that standard and b) knowing my limits. Enjoy!

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Mikeisnomusician 
Date:   2019-11-23 04:21

Thanks. I like the advantage of not having to get back to the same level as before. About all I did in my school days was learn how to make noises. That mean all I can do is get better. :)

My clarinet came a little quicker than expected too. Got it today. Tomorrow I’ll give it a good cleaning and see if I can make sounds, or if I just make noise. lol
I’ll play with it a bit for the next week or two to get the feel of it, then start lessons.

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Bennett 2017
Date:   2019-11-23 09:42

I hate to put a damper on your enthusiasm but the Mendini MCT-E is disparagely known as CSO - clarinet shaped object. Let your teacher try it and judge whether it is worth keeping. If you can't get much satisfaction in the days before you start lessons, don't be discouraged - it may be the clarinet that's the problem.

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Mikeisnomusician 
Date:   2019-11-24 22:14

Thanks for the warning. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll have the money in January to buy a more expensive one. This one was only $40, so either way, I’ll probably buy a nicer on later. I’m going to be trying it out in a few hours. If I can’t make sounds with it, I’ll have the instructor test it to see if it’s the clarinet or me.

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Mikeisnomusician 
Date:   2019-11-25 09:25

I think this is going to be easy and fun. My starter clarinet appears to be good enough for me. It took about 2 or 3 minutes to get myself making sounds from it, but after about 10 more minutes of playing with it, I was able to make a consistent sound 6 times in a row before getting a bad sound. :)

The 2.5 reeds seem to work fine for me. I’m going to play around a bit. A couple of the reeds have imperfections at the edge, so I’m going to try trimming them back a bit.

Thanks everyone for the help, pointers, and recommendations. I can’t wait till I can play my first easy song. Probably wait until after the holidays to start lessons.

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: jthole 
Date:   2019-11-25 13:52

Mikeisnomusician wrote:

> I think this is going to be easy and fun.

The "fun", I believe, but the "easy" not ;-)

My wife is also an adult learner on clarinet, and when she started out, she had the idea that she would master the instrument in two or three years ;-) Yes, despite me saying that it's a lifetime learning journey. After two years, she hit a road block indeed, and almost convinced herself that she would never learn it. Fortunately she persisted, and found back the fun (and still makes great progress!).

It's not going to be easy, and can be very frustrating at times, but it's very rewarding. Especially those times when everything works as it should, and you think "yes! this is why I practice every day!" Joining a local band is a great idea as well. Hopefully there are bands specifically for adult beginners in your area. My wife started in a beginner band, where she was the only adult woman, which didn't work (obviously). If only because the band director wanted to make her the "band mom" immediately :-(

Anyway, she loves playing, and from what I read, it will be a great hobby for you as well! Just don't be too hard on yourself when you don't seem to make any progress ... it's not a linear thing anyway.

Good luck!

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-11-25 17:01

>> A couple of the reeds have imperfections at the edge, so I’m going to try trimming them back a bit.

You will learn a lot by doing that - that they may not work at all.
Tiny imperfections in the tip don't matter. If they are large enough to let air pass through, or split that they don't vibrate together, save those in a box for later to learn how to fix them.
Depending on the size of 'trim', the reed may become a 3.5 or a 5.5 or a 10 strength and won't play at all.

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: jthole 
Date:   2019-11-27 00:39

Reed fixing and even making can be a quite satisfying hobby in itself, of course. And being able to perform basic fixes is a good skill to have anyway.

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Mikeisnomusician 
Date:   2019-11-27 08:19

I’ve done woodworking for fun for about 45 years, and professionally for a few years as well, so with a little practice I’m sure I’ll be fixing any reeds that need fixing, and probably even experiment a little.

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-11-28 13:59

Hi Mike,

I'd be really interested to hear what you find when you start reed-fixing. I don't know much about that and would be interested to hear what you figure out.

Jen

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: Mikeisnomusician 
Date:   2019-11-29 08:13

I won’t be doing much until after the holidays, but I will post my progress here as I go, for my playing and woodworking.

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: michele zukovsky 
Date:   2019-11-30 10:48

if you have reasonably good rhythm, no problem!
connect with david blumberg and get a skype lesson

michelezukovsky@gmail.com

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 Re: Old clarinet beginner
Author: HelenaS 
Date:   2019-12-01 00:57

I began playing clarinet in my 40s, having played flute and piccolo on and off since 5th grade. You can teach yourself, but a teacher helps. After a few years of practicing I can now (mostly) keep up on 3rd Clarinet parts in my local community band. Keep at it.

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