Clarinet Care & Maintenance Videos

Clarinet Care & Maintenance Page

The Basics


Sit on the edge of your chair, and always keep your:

  • Spine straight and tall
  • Shoulders back and relaxed
  • Feet flat on the floor

Breathing & Airstream

Breathing is a natural thing we all do constantly. To discover the correct airstream to play your instrument:

  • Place the palm of your hand near your mouth.
  • Inhale deeply through the corners of your mouth, keeping your shoulders steady. Your waist should expand like a balloon.
  • Slowly whisper "too" as you gradually exhale air into your palm.

The air you feel is the airstream. It produces sound through the instrument. Your tongue is like a faucet or valve that releases the airstream.

Producing The Essential Tone

Embouchure (ahm-bah-shure) is your mouth's position on the reed. A good embouchure takes time and effort, so carefully follow these steps for success:


  • Put the thin end of the reed in your mouth to moisten it thoroughly.
  • Looking at the flat side of the mouthpiece, the ligature screws extend to your right. Slide the ligature up with your thumb.
  • Place the flat side of the reed against the mouthpiece under the ligature.
  • Lower the ligature and position the reed so that only a hairline of the mouthpiece can be seen above the reed.
  • Gently tighten the ligature screws.


  • Moisten your lips and roll the lower lip over your bottom teeth.
  • Firm the corners of your mouth like a slightly puckered smile.
  • Stretch your chin downward.
  • Place the mouthpiece on your lower lip so that the reed extends about 1/2 inch into your mouth. Place upper teeth on top of the mouthpiece.
  • Close your mouth around the mouthpiece. Keep the corners of the mouth firm and the chin pointing downward.

Taking Care Of Your Clarinet

Before putting your instrument back in its case after playing, do the following:

  • Remove the reed, wipe off excess moisture and return it to the reed case.
  • Remove the mouthpiece and wipe the inside with a clean cloth. Once a week, wash the mouthpiece with warm tap water. Dry thoroughly.
  • Drop a weighted chamois or cotton swab into the bell and pull it out through the barrel.
  • Carefully twist off the barrel and dry off any additional moisture. Place it in the case.
  • Gently twist the upper and lower sections apart, with the bell still attached. Place the upper section in the case.
  • Remove the bell and place the bell and lower section back into the case.
  • As you put each piece back in the case, check to be sure they are dry.
  • Your case is designed to hold only specific objects. If you try to force anything else into the case, it may damage your instrument.

Getting It Together

Step 1: Put the thin end of the reed into your mouth to moisten it thoroughly while assembling your instrument. If needed, rub a small amount of cork grease on all corks. Clean hands.

Step 2: Hold the lower section in the palm of your left hand, with the key work facing up. Do not put any pressure on the long rod. Pick up the bell with your right hand and gently twist it onto the cork of the lower section.

Step 3: Hold the upper section in your right hand so you can depress the lower of the two open rings with your second finger. Getnly twist the upper section into the lower section. Check that the bridge key on the upper section crosses directly over its connector on the lower section. The tone holes of the two sections should be aligned.

Step 4: Hold your instrument in your left hand, ndar the top of the upper section. Pick up the barrel in your right hand and gently twist its larger end onto the top of the upper section.

Step 5: Twist the mouthpiece into the barrel. The flat side of the mouthpiece should form a straight line with the register key ad thumb rest. Place the reed on the mouthpiece.

Step 6: With your right thumb under the thumb rest and left thumb on the thumb key, use the pads of your fingers to over the tone holes. Your fingers should curve naturally. Bring the clarinet up as shown above.

Information above provided by Hal Leonard from the Essential Elements Methods Books.

Demonstration Videos

Clarinet Anatomy

How to Assemble Your Clarinet

How to Properly Hold Your Clarinet

How To Setup Your Mouthpiece & Reed

Embouchure and First Sound

How To Swab Your Clarinet

How To Clean Your Clarinet Mouthpiece

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