Picking Up the Clarinet Again
Tonight I played my clarinet for the first time in a couple years. I was ashamed that I had to get the vacuum out and clean off the layer of dust that was caked to the outside of the case, having sat in my closet untouched for so long.
But as soon as I found a good reed and was able to produce that clear, warm, earthy tone that only the clarinet can make, it was like meeting an old friend. I was relieved to discover that I still had “the stuff”. My technique is rusty and I need to build back the endurance in my embouchure (the shape my mouth makes on the mouthpiece to produce sound from the reed), but a good foundation is there. It felt great to play.
So I ordered a few things:
- Cleaning swab – “nasty” does not adequately describe the state of the cleaning swab I just threw away. This is an essential accessory, as it is important to clean out the condensation from the instrument before you put it back in the case.
- Reeds – a woodwind player can never have too many. I have a decent supply. I went through all the ones I had from two different makers that have been my go-to brands: Mitchell Lurie and Vandoren. Of the ones I had on-hand, the Mitchell Lurie were better and more consistent overall, but I found a few decent Vandoren. I ordered more Mitchell Lurie. Hopefully they're still as good as they were 17 years ago.
- Neck strap – the full weight of the clarinet typically rests on your right thumb. I have always had issues with my right hand getting cramped and fatigued from this, and it negatively impacts my dexterity in that hand. A clarinet neck strap attaches to the thumb rest so that the weight is supported by your neck instead of your thumb. I have wanted to try a neck strap for quite some time and there's no time like the present.
I'm hoping to get some momentum going with regular practice and learning some musical pieces and etudes I have on-hand. And with the holiday season approaching, I might even have some opportunities to play in some small ensembles. That would be neat!