Please read through these instructions carefully before trying to make your first sound.
Both hands have five fingers, but for our purpose each hand has a thumb, fingers 1,2 and 3, and a pinkie. Therefore if I talk about the LHT this is the left hand thumb. LH1 is the left hand first finger or index finger and so on.
At the back of the clarinet on the lower joint is the thumbrest.
Place your RHT under this with the thumbrest close to the nail. It is important to maintain this position so the rest of the fingers can cover the front holes correctly.
Place the LHT over the hole on the upper joint at a 45 degree angle to the clarinet.
Now form an Aww shape with your mouth. The lower lip should cover the lower teeth slightly. Place the reed onto the lower lip and push a small amount of lip over the teeth.
Now place your top teeth on the mouthpiece. The position of the top teeth is critical. I have measured my placement and my teeth rest on the mouthpiece 10 millimetres from the tip. Measure this and mark it, then using a mirror place your teeth just before the mark. This will give you a very good idea of the ideal top teeth position. If you swallow too much mouthpiece you will only get squeaks when you blow, or a very harsh sound. If you only take a small amount of mouthpiece you will not get any sound at all.
Close the top lip down on top of the mouthpiece and create a seal onto the lower lip. Try to keep the lower lip relaxed, most of the work should be done by the top lip. Now blow. Note the cheeks do not puff out.
Still no sound? Take the barrel, complete with mouthpiece, off the clarinet. Take the barrel and mouthpiece to a mirror, point the mouthpiece at the mirror and suck hard through the hole at the end of the barrel. A shrill rather unpleasant sound will result. Open your eyes, ignore the sound, and watch as the reed vibrates against the tip of the mouthpiece. This vibration is the source of the sound the clarinet makes. If you bite into the reed with the lower jaw the vibration cannot happen, no air will pass through the mouthpiece and no sound will be produced.
Reassemble the clarinet.
To feel the air flowing into the clarinet take up your blowing position but this time do not apply any pressure to the reed at all. You will still need to make a seal with your lips. Blow firmly and the air will rush through the clarinet with a hissing sound. Gradually apply more and more pressure from the jaw until the note sounds.
Click on the red E to hear how the note should sound. All the sound files are red. You can download these and save them on your computer for easy access.
Another way to help find the correct position for the top teeth is to do a little experiment. Start with your top teeth very near the tip and try to blow. Because the reed will close too easily you won't get any sound. Now place your teeth well down the mouthpiece and try again. The likelyhood is you will get a very loud squeak. In small increments take a little bit less mouthpiece, blowing a note each time, until you reach the point where it no longer squeaks. This is the ideal position for the teeth. Just before the squeak point (as I like to call it).
Curve the left hand fingers over the clarinet and hover them over the keys.
Press the LH1 down onto the first hole and ensure the fleshy part of the finger seals the hole so that no air can escape.
If the note came out freely, congratulations. If not then check your facial position. Can you see two little pink triangles on the bottom lip? If not adjust your lower lip carefully until you can. Think Aww as you blow. The most common reason for no sound coming out is simply trying too hard and biting with the lower teeth into the reed. You need to free up the lower jaw so open your mouth and allow the air to flow into the mouthpiece.