It can be tough to choose a clarinet for yourself, your beginning child, or your advancing high school clarinetist. Here are some tips that I have acquired in my experience as a clarinetist and educator.
Where to start:
Start beginners with an intermediate clarinet, if your budget will allow, and then switch to a professional model in high school. If you must purchase a plastic beginner clarinet, choose one of the models below for reliability and durability, then switch to a professional model in high school.
Choose instruments made in the USA or France. These instruments are made from durable, quality material that sounds great and can withstand beginner wear and tear. Cheap instruments will break easily, and are inconsistently made, making replacement parts difficult to impossible for repair technicians to find. Many repair techs will refuse to repair cheaply made instruments. The instruments below are reliable student model clarinets:
(note: I would recommend purchasing a professional model over an intermediate model if you can afford it.)
Clarinet - Intermediate and Professional Model Buying Guide
First, if you have a private instructor, please ask them to help you pick out a new clarinet. Second, always try as many instruments side-by-side as you can. Since quality clarinets are made of wood (a natural material), every instrument is going to feel/sound slightly different.
You will need: New reeds, a tuner, paper, contrasting pieces of music (fast, slow, legato, fast articulation, etc).
One of my favorite things about this group how inspiring and awesome my fellow members are. Erin is a master arranger and an incredibly sensitive 2nd clarinet player, Joe literally can sing through his bass, and I don't even understand how Nora makes the E-flat clarinet sound so freaking good. Seriously. These guys inspire me every time I hear them play. Anyway, we had an eventful 2015. In this post, I will share some highlights from the year.
In March, we played a public concert in Lincoln Park at the DePaul Art Museum. It was a Schubertiade, and being the permanent 3rd clarinetist of the group, I was the lucky winner of having to play the viola part. Folks, let me tell you... playing the viola part in a string quartet is actually really hard. Throat tones galore! I really had to up my game in projecting my sound in the low to mid register. Who would have thought that air support, embouchure control, and playing with high tongue position would help that cause?
Part way through the year, we signed on with Vandoren as Generation Vandoren artists. If you aren't sure what it is, that's okay; we weren't sure either. It's kind of a new thing. Basically, we are an artist group that, in addition to performing regular concerts, connects with the younger generation of clarinet players through our presence in social media - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and good old fashioned school clinics.