Learning to play a new instrument is fun and exciting, isn't it? You’ve been working hard– perfecting your embouchure, improving your playing technique, learning new songs– and now you’re ready to upgrade to your step-up clarinet! As you were starting band, your beginner clarinet was picked just for you because it was made to be easy to understand how to play. As you advance in your second or third year of band you’ll start to put more demands on your clarinet, which is why it's the perfect time to step-up. A step-up clarinet is designed to make the transition to advanced music much smoother. Let’s take a look at some things that make stepping up so important.
Beginner clarinets are almost always made of plastic resin. This resin is appropriate for beginner players because it is durable and easy to maintain. In the first year of playing, the quality of tone is not as important as learning how to play the correct note. Beginner clarinets have a small bore, and while a small bore does create a thinner sound, it requires much less effort to play.
After about a year of playing, clarinet students are past the basics and are ready to focus on improving their tone quality. Intermediate, performer, and top-line clarinets are made of grenadilla wood, which produces a darker, richer sound. The tone of step-up clarinets is also improved by having a larger bore. The larger bore does take more effort to play, but students quickly adjust, and the improvement in tone is well worth the challenge. Students and parents are often surprised at what a difference in sound there is between their beginner instrument and a step-up clarinet!
Performer and top-line clarinets are recommended for students who are competitive in music and/or would like a clarinet that will take them through junior high and high school and into college and beyond. These models are made of grenadilla wood that has been aged longer than that used in the intermediate clarinets. The older wood makes clarinets more stable, produces truer tones, and is less likely to crack. In addition, higher-end clarinets get more custom adjustment by the instrument builders, further improving the tone and response of the instruments.
Additional benefits of performer and top-line clarinets include the following:
Adjustable thumb rest for comfortable playing.
Larger bore size for a rich, full sound.
Steel needle springs for maximum sensitivity a fast response.
Nylon tipped adjustment screws that won’t back out.
In our experience, the improved tone and response of step-up clarinets makes them a joy to play and can even inspire better practice habits. If a student is continuing to play clarinet beyond their first year in band, it is important for them to step up to an instrument that will keep up with their abilities and allow them to progress in their music studies. If you are interested in stepping-up your child’s clarinet, you can call us at 901-323-8888 or book an appointment online.
Today's blog was written by a member of our very own Band and Orchestra Sales Team, Heather Cummings!