Elana Segal's Music Studio

Wooden Clarinet Care

Sunday, June 18, 2023 by Elana Segal | Clarinet

How to care for your new wooden clarinet. Break-in process and winterize your new instrument.

Break-in Process
Your new wooden clarinet needs to be conditioned properly to condition the wood for moisture and temperature changes. These steps should also be followed if you bought a used instrument that has not been played in a while.

Playing on your new instrument for an extended period of time will risk the wood taking on too much moisture and stress the wood from the extreme temperature changes. Taking the time to break in your new instrument will condition the wood and reduce the risk of a major crack. 

Follow these steps:
  • Swab out the instrument (bell to barrel) with a microfibre swab after each use
  • Play on it for 5 minutes a day for the first week
  • Play on it for 10 minutes a day for the second week
  • Play on it for 15 minutes a day for the third week
  • Play on it for 20 minutes a day for fourth week

Winterize Your Clarinet
Your new wooden clarinet will be very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Make sure that you never leave  your instrument in the car, by a heat or A/C source. 

A case cover can help manage the temperature of the instrument. Companies like Protec and Altieri make thermal bags that fit common clarinet cases.

Using  a humidification system can also reduce the risk of your clarinet drying out and cracking. Products like Humistat and Dampit offer in case options, or just throw some orange peels in your case to release moisture. It is important to note that you can easily over humidify your instrument, so carefully monitor the case humidity levels. I have found that my clarinets need more moisture in the Winter, and less in the Summer. 

Take extra precautions in the winter months!
The biggest enemy for clarinet is cold temperatures. Even traveling a short distance in the cold Winter is enough to drop the clarinet temperature down. Always feel your clarinet and let it sit for a few minutes to acclimate to the room temperature.

Instrument insurance
It is a good idea to get your instrument covered under your home owners insurance policy. If you will be traveling with you instrument, you may want to look into instrument specific insurance company like Clarion Instrument Insurance. 

Bass Clarinet Resources

Sunday, June 18, 2023 by Elana Segal | Clarinet

Bass Clarinet Books/Repertoire

The following books are staples to build your music library. These books are great for students with some experience playing an instrument and reading music notation.
  • Introducing the Alto and Bass Clarinet - Hal Leonard
  • Classic Festival Solos for Bass Clarinet Vol. 1+2 - Alfred Music
  • Concert and Contest for Bass Clarinet - Hal Leonard
  • Weissenborn Advanced Studies for Alto or Bass Clarinet - Southern Music
  • J.S. Bach Six Suites for Cello
  • Eugene Bozza Ballade

Bass Clarinet Accessories

Just like any instrument, a bass clarinetist needs the proper equipment and accessories. 
Here are my favorite products for bass clarinet:
  • Reeds - (Rico, Vandoren, Legere)
  • Mouthpiece (B40 or BD5)
  • Ligature - (BG France, Vandoren)
  • Swab - (BG France)
  • Mouthpiece patch
  • Cork Grease
  • Quality Case - (Protec, Bam)
  • Bass Clarinet Stand - (Hercules)
  • Music Stand
  • Metronome/Tuner (Korg TM60)

How to get a great bass clarinet sound:

  1. Air support!
  2. Relaxed embouchure for upper register
  3. Tongue placement and voicing (high tongue position, don't bite on reed)
  4. Practice SLOWLY (and with a metronome and tuner)
  5. Make sure your bass clarinet is in good playing condition
  6. Listen to great bass clarinet players to hear their sound
  7. Take lessons with a specialist

Common mistakes and how to fix them:

Problem: Tuning from the mouthpiece - I see many students adjust intonation from the mouthpiece. 
Solution: Keep mouthpiece completely inserted into the neck. Adjust intonation from the placement of the neck to the body. (Or adjust with the neck if you have a two-piece neck assembly found on some Yamaha, Buffet, Selmer and other pro-bass clarinet models.)

Problem: Thin and fuzzy tone quality (from not using enough mouthpiece and air support)
Solution: Find the point where the reed meets the mouthpiece (look at the mouthpiece side profile in the light) this is where your embouchure should rest on the mouthpiece. This place will vary from mouthpiece shape and reed cut. Work on breathing exercises and long tones with a tuner to improve your breath control and air support. 

Problem: Excessive squeaking, not being able to play high notes, etc.
Solution: The bass clarinet is not a big clarinet. Work with a teacher to adjust your embouchure, voicing and tongue placement to get a proper bass clarinet sound. Make sure your bass clarinet is in good playing condition. 

Reach out if you have any questions about the bass clarinet or want to take lessons with me.