How Hard Is Playing The Clarinet?

The Clarinet is one of the most famous and popular instruments in all of music. Part of the woodwind family, it has a very particular sound and comes in many forms, including the B flat clarinet and the bass clarinet, as well as the less popular A clarinet and E flat clarinet. 

Learning the clarinet, like any other musical instrument, can be a difficult endeavor, but the hours of practice will be fruitful and rewarding if you’re looking to become a musician!

So, is the clarinet hard to play? Read on to find out what it takes to become a great clarinet player! 

Learning the Clarinet

The clarinet isn’t an especially difficult instrument to learn, but it’s not especially easy either. There are models made for all ages from child to adult, so anyone can learn how to play this fantastic instrument. Here are a few things to help you along the way!

First and perhaps most importantly, your clarinet needs to be assembled properly. Make sure the reed is between the ligature and the mouthpiece, with the flatter part of the reed facing inwards. Tighten until snug, but be careful not to overtighten, as it’s bad for the clarinet. 

Make sure you’re wetting your reed before you play the clarinet. This is as simple as putting it in your mouth and sliding it out, as to avoid it squeaking and being difficult to produce notes with. 

When playing the clarinet, be sure to sit up straight. This will allow you to hold the clarinet properly. In order to hold the clarinet properly, make sure it is away from your body at around a 45-degree angle.

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Keep your back straight and your head up, and allow the end of the clarinet to come just past your knees if you’re seated. 

Use your right thumb to support the instrument on the bottom tube. There is a thumb rest you can find quite easily on this part of the clarinet. Your other fingers should be placed upon the keys on this tube. 

Your left hand should be on the tube closer to your face. Place your thumb on the octave key, which is on the bottom of the clarinet, and your other fingers on their corresponding keys on top of the instrument. 

When you put the clarinet in your mouth to play, make sure you have the proper mouth shape or embouchure. This is a difficult thing to do at first, especially if you have no experience with instruments that you need to have proper embouchure to play before.

As far as the difficulty of playing the clarinet overall, this is the part that stumps most people and is what makes people think the clarinet is an especially difficult instrument to play.  This short guide will help you get on your way to having proper embouchure.

Try and keep your cheeks tight, and not puffed out while you’re playing. This will keep the tone the instrument is producing more consistent, and provide a more even sound overall.

Then it’s time to start playing! Get some fingering charts to help you out with how to place your fingers and some easy scales and songs to start practicing with. Here’s a good fingering chart to start out with. Try to play some of the things on this site!

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How Long Does It Take To Learn The Clarinet?

Just like learning any musical instrument the Clarinet will take around 1 year to become competent with steady practice and discipline.

Practicing consistently is the key to fast learning even if it’s only 15 minutes a day.

Parts of the Clarinet

In order to learn an instrument inside and out, you should be familiar with the parts. The clarinet has five distinct parts. 

The mouthpiece, which includes the mouthpiece, reed, and ligature, is the piece you put your mouth on in order to blow air into the instrument. This is the piece that will require the most assembly and disassembly, so you should know it very well, as you’ll be seeing it and manipulating it very often. 

The keys are the part of the clarinet you push down with your fingers to create notes. A fairly straightforward piece, so what you really need to know about them is which note each will create when you push it down. 

The upper tube is the tube of the clarinet that is closer to your face while you play. It houses some of the keys as well as the octave key on the bottom of the instrument. As stated earlier, keep your left hand on this tube. 

The lower tube is the tube closer to the end of the clarinet and is the home of the rest of the keys. Keep your right hand on it, and support the clarinet with the thumb rest that is on the bottom of this tube. 

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The bell is the flared out piece at the end of the clarinet. It is there to make the clarinet louder, as well as help with the tone for some of the notes the clarinet can play that are in the lower register. 

Proper Clarinet Care

Taking good care of your clarinet is of the utmost importance to make sure it sounds great each and every time you play it. After each use, you should disassemble your clarinet and clean the individual parts. 

Take the time to inspect them as well in order to ensure they’re in proper working order, and none of the parts need to be replaced. 

Make sure to grease the corks of your clarinet regularly as well. This will make it so it is easy to take apart and put together again. 


The clarinet, like any other instrument, is a major time investment to really learn properly. However, it is not an especially difficult instrument to learn, and with the proper time and care, can be done by anybody.

Remember to take proper care of your clarinet, know your instrument inside and out, and get enough practice in! This includes cleaning your clarinet after each and every use and inspecting it for wear and tear regularly.

Play with good posture, practice every day, and make sure your embouchure is correct as well. Follow these steps, and you’ll be a clarinet expert in no time!

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