I play both the clarinet and the french horn. This image is of the clarinet.
Photography © Books and Bark Blog

Before I start posting about my experiences, I thought I’d start by writing a blog post about each of my hobbies. These include (but aren’t limited to) writing, photography, and traveling.

Okay, so let’s take a break from my writing career and talk about something I really enjoy, but  usually forget to mention: music. I know I’ve been posting a lot today, but for the past hour and a half, I’ve been practicing obsessively for an audition on Monday. It’s a pretty easy audition, actually, but here’s the catch: we have to memorize three scales, one of them chromatic. For those of you not affiliated with music and don’t know what this means, a scale (no, not the scale of a fish) is a basic progression of tones going from low tones, progressing to high tones, and coming back down. And a chromatic scale is a progression of every single note on your instrument. Fun, huh?

I have been playing clarinet for about 4 years now. This is my clarinet. For those of you who are clarinetists, the make is Yamaha, and it is plastic.

I have been playing clarinet for about 4 years now. This is my clarinet. For those of you who are clarinetists, the make is Yamaha, and it is plastic.
Photography © Books and Bark Blog

The funny thing is, the group I’m auditioning for has already accepted me (I auditioned once before, and completely BOMBED that audition!) but right now I’m just auditioning for placement in the band. For those of you that don’t speak music, I’m pretty much just trying to see what my rank in my band is.

… I just realized that I wrote about three paragraphs without even mentioning what instrument I play. You may have recognized it from my photographs, but then you may not know. So I’ll tell you now.

I’ve been playing the clarinet for four years now, since I was ten or twelve years old. For those of you that don’t like clarinets much, it’s an amazing instrument, and is the wind instrument with the most keys and buttons, which means that your fingers have got to be really fast. The pitch changing isn’t really hard, but keeping your reeds clean is.

Clarinet is a woodwind instrument, which, in addition to needing me to blow into it, requires a reed to be played. A reed is made of the plant called reed. The specific type of reed needed to procure a reed that is playable is best grown in France. Even though to process of making reeds isn’t too hard, they are very expensive because the best reeds are imported from France. The reed is basically a carefully made and shaped slab of reed which is secured to the mouthpiece by a metal band that goes around it.


This image is slightly blurry, but it is of the clarinet’s mouthpiece. The long slab of light wood-colored material is the reed. The black part is the mouthpiece and the silver screws are part of the ligature.
Photography © Books and Bark Blog (though we’re not sure why you’d want to steal such a blurry photograph…)

It’s really hard to explain in words, so I’ve taken some photographs of my clarinet to show you. The clarinet is a very long instrument and for me it’s hard to get a picture of; the white surface I usually like to use for photography is a desk, and it’s not that big.

Clarinet is a relatively easy instrument; when I was learning clarinet, I already had learned to read treble clef and base clef, due to my (failed) attempt at learning the piano a couple years before, though I’m sure it would be pretty easy to learn clarinet AND music theory at the same time.

I personally LOVE playing clarinet; during my middle school years, I was part of an award-winning band; in seventh and eighth grade we went to festival and both times we got the highest rating. When I was in eighth grade, we also went to Disney’s annual Heritage Festival, where we earned a Gold First Place in the middle school category.

My favorite piece we played was probably “Amazing Grace” by Frank Tichelli. We played the actual original thingnot some sort of arrangement or rewrite. I really wanted to play Loch Lomond, another piece by Frank Tichelli, but we ended up playing a high-stakes piece called “The Great Locomotive Chase” instead.

Currently, I can’t remember the other pieces we played, but I remember they were pretty great, and I loved being in band. I’m currently part of two musical groups, one of which I play clarinet in and another one of which I will start playing French horn in in January (after I learn how to play the French horn!).

I’m not a huge listener of music, but I love playing it, though I don’t like to admit it openly. For me, music is like a sport; I like to play competitively, but as part of a team. I love music and hope to keep playing for the rest of my life. Probably won’t happen, though.

– S


One response to “Clarinet

  1. Pingback: How to Select a Clarinet and Get a Good Tone Out of It (Part I: Selecting a Clarinet) | Books and Bark·

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