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Clarinets Trying out clarinet after playing saxophone


From a teaching standpoint there are a few important differences between the saxophone and clarinet in terms of embouchure and tone production.


  • mouthpiece goes straight into the mouth
  • embouchure "EE" muscles pull out "OO" muscles push in, "OO's" win the tug-o-war
  • chin is "rounded" slightly
  • bottom lip stretched over the bottom teeth just enough to cover
  • played (generally) with warm air

  • mouthpiece goes down at a 45 degree angle
  • embouchure "EE" muscles pull out "OO" muscles push in, tug-o-war ends in a tie
  • chin is held flat
  • slightly more bottom lip over the teeth to provide a "cushion" for the reed
  • played (generally) with fast cold air
The clarinet input pitch with the mouthpiece + barrel should be F# concert or slightly higher (on a short barrel).

So how do you change the type of air than you blow in? (last bullet point).


While I broadly tend to agree with BUMNOTE I think it is worth picking up the clarinet. I used to play it very badly many years ago, and after I had learned some tenor and soprano sax picked it up again. First, I thought there was an old sock in it, but with tighter embouchure and overcoming the blow resistance, it suddenly sounded better than ever before. So, I think they do complement each other and I would encourage people to practice both - if you have the time.


Senior Member
[schnip happens]
But here lies the problem...if we stray from the sax to the clarinet then onto the flute then the guitar piano etc are we just digging ourselves a deeper hole and risking becoming a jack of all trades and master of none?
an intriguing question - "Do I want to be jack, or master"..I've asked myself many times, since I played a lot of tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, then bought a bari, then a few clarinets and some violins. But I like to think that the skills acquired learning a few different instruments contribute to my overall "musicality", [no laughing at the back, please]-- and if anyone is thinking of working in musicals / shows, the ability to 'double' between saxes , flutes & clarinets is pretty much essential...
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Well-Known Member
Skabertawe, South Wales
I think you are quite correct that your overall musicality will develop. I had made a start on jazz grades for both alto sax and trumpet and after a year on each I was up to Grade 3. When I started on Trombone I was up to Grade 6 after a year.

I do see myself as beyond the Jack/Master issue - perfectly able to play Grade 7/8 pieces on sax/trumpet, and Grade 6 on trombone with plenty of improv. etc. I just did learn that stringed instruments were not the best for me to play, such as guitar and piano; sticking something in my mouth and blowing away is not a problem.

The real enjoyment for me is to be able to play the best instrument on a particular tune, so Trombone on Ska, Trumpet for lead parts with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Nat Adderley etc., and sax for Jan Garbarek, Dave Brubeck, Wayne Shorter and lots of other stuff. I suppose being a "Master" and being a "One Trick Pony" are too close for my subjective comfort.

Kind regards


Senior Member
I rather suspect the air is actually at the same temperature, it just feels 'hot' -( on one's skin?) , when slow, and feels 'cool' when fast...

dave mainland

Café Supporter
It could be the same temperature but warm and cold air are more of a concept than a measure of absolute temperature. So air that feels warm is the sort you can use on sax. Warmer and more open throat the lower the notes you play.
Incidentally - if you are playing a low note you will almost certainly at the same height as if playing a high one ;)

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