Did you know that band directors can often tell which students will drop out of band by looking at the quality and condition of the instruments that they're using? Why is that?
It's because an instrument that is difficult to play or won't perform properly is a huge discouragement to beginning musicians. Like anyone learning a new skill, a beginner can find it challenging to make the first sounds. The instrument used during the first few months of study is critical in determining the success or failure of a young musician.
Beginners are learning the basics of making the notes, so beginner clarinets typically don't have the features to produce a high-quality tone. Beginner instruments are designed for early use and gratification for the student.
Qualities of a beginner clarinet:
Doesn't require an excessive amount of air
Plays the correct notes when the correct keys are pressed
Plays in tune with the other instruments in the band
Can be repaired and adjusted easily
Features & Benefits
ABS resin or Viplex (plastic) body - durable and inexpensive
Power-forged keys - strong and adjustable without breaking
Small, cylindrical bore - easier for beginners to produce sound
Molded case - durable and inexpensive
By the end of the first year of musical study, a student is already outgrowing their beginner instrument both physically and musically. A musician's instrument should grow with them. This means it's time to step up to a more advanced, higher-quality instrument that will complement their developing music skills.
Advantages of a step-up clarinet:
- A larger and fuller sound
- Clearer, more pleasant tone
- Quicker response time
- More powerful resonation
- Better dynamic expression and control
You may be wondering, "How advanced of an instrument is needed at this stage of musical study?" Step-up clarinets are available in three levels: intermediate, performer, and top-line. Beginner clarinets are almost always made of high-grade plastic. Plastic is appropriate for beginners because it’s durable, and the quality of the tone is not as important at this stage as learning to play the correct note. In addition, beginner clarinets are small bore, requiring less effort to play but producing a thinner tone. Intermediate, performer, and top-line clarinets provide a darker, fuller sound because they are made of wood and their larger bore creates a bigger sound.
Most intermediate clarinet models have a grenadilla wood body and power-forged keys. They are constructed with a larger conical bore. These instruments will also include a metal bell ring and a tenon ring which protects the wood from cracking. Intermediate horns are often crafted with individual attention and adjustment which improves response and intonation. At Amro, intermediate horns come with a carry-all case that can hold music and additional supplies.
Performer and top-line clarinets are constructed with aged grenadilla wood for optimum tone and stability. In addition to the features included on intermediate models, these horns also include an adjustable thumb rest, steel needle springs, and nylon-tipped adjustment screws. Performer and top-line clarinets receive the maximum amount of attention in adjustment, resulting in the best response and intonation available.
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