There are many makes and strengths of reed. I always use Vandoren Classic strength 1.5 for beginners. They are consistant and long lasting. The other two big names are Rico and Buffet. I am always intrigued by the length of time some pupils manage to play on the same reed! If Vandoren are not available check with your supplier for a comparitive strength. Do not start on strength 1 as these are just too soft and will not develop the lip strength that is essential for good tone. The cheapest way to buy reeds is in boxes of 10 via post. Beware, some companies charge postage and this makes a substantial difference in cost so ask before buying. I usually use Dawkes as they do not charge postage and carriage, see links.
This is an essential piece of equipment which should be purchased at the same time as your clarinet and reeds. Beginners develop many bad positional problems by using a table, desk, bed, piano etc. rather than a properly adjusted music stand, avoid this mistake and give yourself the best possible chance. To begin with it should be adjusted to head height for optimum body position. There are many different models, a cheap folding stand will do the job to start with and you can upgrade to a fancy expensive one later if you wish.
Most clarinets are supplied with a pull-through but if you bought a second hand instrument you will need to buy one. The best type is the handkerchief design of which there are several makes. The one in the photograph is made by Buffet.
This is a very useful piece of equipment which is relatively cheap today. Normally I would not suggest a beginner buy this if I was teaching them every week. However for someone learning at home it is very useful.
The model pictured is an Intelli Metro Tuner - IMT202, the model I use almost every day.
To sling or not to sling
The modern clarinet is quite a heavy instrument and can put a considerable strain on the right thumb and hand. If you have small hands or are very young then I recommend the use of a sling. I always use a sling because of the angle my thumb hinges when playing the clarinet, if your thumb does the same then definately use a sling. To test your thumb angle hold your hand out in a playing position and push down on your thumb nail. If your joint collapses like mine then you need a sling. I have tried various alternatives over the years and this is the only successful solution.
There are two makes of sling I recommend. I used a BG sling for years but have recently changed to a Neotech sling. They both operate in a similar way and have different strengths. The BG sling has a very good height adjuster ( toggle ) but it is a little bulky and can interfere with left thumb movement. I changed to the Neotech because it has a smaller toggle. I have used both the elastic and string models, for consistancy of position the string model is preferable.
Advice about clarinets Page 2