How to Improve Your Tone as a Clarinetist

Posted on: 3 June 2016

One of the challenges of playing the clarinet is developing a rich, warm tone; after all, a tone that isn't developed can sound one-dimensional and weak. If you're a beginner clarinetist or you simply want to improve your playing, working on your tone is just as important as practicing scales and etudes. Read on for some ideas on improving your tone that can easily become a part of your daily practice.

Work on breath control

If you want to develop a warm, more professional-sounding tone on your clarinet, it's important that you work on breath control. A great way to do this is to play long notes; play the note quietly and see how long you can sustain your breath and get a decent note out of your instrument. Do this for 5-10 minutes a day and you'll notice a vast improvement in your tone and, as a bonus, your endurance!

Check your angle

The angle at which you hold your clarinet can have a big effect on the way your clarinet sounds. There is a perfect angle for each player, and it's worth experimenting to find the right one for you. A lot of beginners look down when they play; when you lower your head, you restrict your throat and your air passageway, meaning the tone will sound pinched. So, always make sure your head is up. Then, play around with the angle at which you hold the clarinet, making sure it isn't too far away from, nor too close to, your face. Play a note -- such as a high C -- and, starting with the clarinet flush against your face, extend it out slowly. See where in the range of movement your tone sounds the best. This is usually at a 35 to 45° angle.

Improve your embouchure

If you're still fairly new to learning the clarinet, you're in luck; you still have time to make sure you have a great embouchure, which will help immensely as you continue to improve. Many clarinetists develop a poor embouchure and then are left trying to fix a weak tone further down the line. With a proper embouchure, the lower lip is flattened against the bottom teeth (just imagine you're putting on lip balm), then the mouthpiece is placed on the lower lip with the top teeth resting on top of it. Next, the sides of the mouth are pulled together in a drawstring fashion to make sure there are no gaps on the side of the mouth. With the correct embouchure, the tone produced will be full and beautiful.

Incorporate these tips into your practice and in no time you'll have a tone that will make you the envy of the clarinet section!