I’ve played the clarinet for a couple of years now, and I love talking to other clarinet players about all the clarinet things. So HERE ARE A FEW. Also, whilst I was writing this post I I realised that this was kinda similar to An Overthinking Teenager’s #Trumpeterproblems post so do go and check that out, it’s excellent! I mean, I’m not actually a trumpeter, but I DID ENJOY IT NEVERTHELESS.
1. Wait, how many ledger lines?
As you can see here, you can get a whooole bunch of ledger lines on the clarinet. I’ve got a pretty solid hold on the lower ledger lines, but in the higher register? (The weird altissimo one.) Yeah, just no. I am that person who sits there counting them all out. TOO MANY LEDGER LINES, GUYS.
2. There are approximately 30172907 other clarinet players out there
Don’t get me wrong, I’m eternally glad so many people choose to play the clarinet, because clearly the best instrument out there. *coughs* It just means that there’s a lot of competition for the few clarinet spaces there are in orchestras. (Like, at least there are about a million violins. Compared with THREE CLARINETS, I tell you. THREE CLARINETS.) (This especially sucks when you have, like, a clarinet prodigy at your school. RIP me.)
3. Playing 3rd clarinet in the school orchestra
Even when you do manage to get a place in orchestra, if it’s a lower part then it’s often just minims or crotchets plus 40 bars rest. I’m still pretty bitter from my 3rd clarinet days, to be honest. But it means that you can be SUPER HAPPY when you move up a part.
4. Trilling over the break
Some composers obviously just…do not understand how the clarinet works. BRO, I CANNOT TRILL FROM AN A TO A C. I JUST CAN’T. For non-clarineters: that means going from leaning on one key with your index finger to having all your fingers down! Plus another key! THE HORROR. I mean, there probably is a trill key for it. (See below.) But when you have to do it in like a scale of really quick notes going over the break and it’s just asdgyjhakeflkw.
5. SO MANY DIFFERENT KEYS
I’ve played the clarinet for a good while now, and even I don’t know what all the little keys along the side do. (I think I know most of them. But I might have to experiment a bit if you actually asked me to tell you.) It also means that if you knock one of them slightly, it can send your entire instrument off kilter and then you have to improvise with cling film and blue-tack to try and get the notes out.
6. Cleaning your clarinet is just…no
There are a variety of different clarinet cleaning things out there that you can use, but I have a weird cloth with a weight on the end. It used to be white, but now it’s brown and ripped and just in general extremely disgusting. I used to barely ever clean my clarinet, so when I did it would come out with loads of brown stuff, but now I try and clean it every time I play to minimise that. It’s still pretty gross.
7. Your one good reed always chips
Reeds are just really weird and mostly out to hate you. (It always seems like they’re especially out to get you when you are a wee tiny clarinet player.) They’re dry and they chip really easily and sometimes you find a 2 year old one somewhere and it is super super manky. And then when you get out the one reed you trust to play it at the concert…IT GOES AND CHIPS. Because of course.