Clarinet Lessons in Denver
Colorado Honor Band offers clarinet lessons in Denver, Westminster, Thornton, Centennial, and Littleton. Our after school music program provides weekly one-on-one coaching and band classes, seasonal public performances, a yearly summer camp, and national and international travel opportunities.
Clarinet General Information
The B♭ clarinet is a single reed instrument, with a cylindrical bore (the shape of the inside of the instrument). This means that it has a very distinct tone quality, and many people have said that the clarinet is the instrument most like the human voice! Because of it’s shape, the clarinet is the only woodwind instrument that uses a register key, rather than an octave key. The register key lets the instrument go up a 12th, which can make the upper register fingerings a bit more challenging to remember.
The bass clarinet is pitched one octave lower than the B♭ clarinet. Parts are written in treble clef, to make switching from B♭ clarinet easier. The mouthpiece is much larger than B♭ clarinet, and the reeds are also longer and wider. It takes more air to play bass clarinet compared to B♭ clarinet.
In wind ensemble and concert band pieces, the bass clarinet plays similar parts to the bassoon, baritone saxophone, trombone, baritone, and tuba. Melody lines are not found very often for bass clarinet, but occasionally the bass clarinet gets to play beautiful solos.
Pieces that feature the bass clarinet:
- Blue Shades by Frank Ticheli
- Grand Canyon Suite by Ferdi Grofe (written for orchestra)
Other Members of the Clarinet Family
E♭ Clarinet—a small instrument that plays in the same range as a piccolo. The Colorado Honor Band owns an E♭ clarinet, and a student in Symphony Winds can perform on this instrument whenever a piece calls for it.
Alto Clarinet—an instrument in E♭, which has fallen out of favor for concert bands. Earlier in the late 20th century, every concert band had at least 2 alto clarinets. Nowadays it is used in clarinet choirs, to play parts in the middle range.
Contra Alto and Contra Bass Clarinet—the very bottom sounds of the clarinet family! Contra alto is in E♭ (1 octave below an alto clarinet), and contra bass is in B♭ (1 octave below bass clarinet, 2 octaves below B♭ clarinet). Certain band pieces call for these instruments.
Clarinet’s Role in the Band
Clarinet plays melody in most band pieces. It is like the violin section in the orchestra, and the 1st chair clarinetist is often called the “Concert Master” or Concert Mistress.”
- Stanley Drucker, soloist and chamber music (retired from the New York Philharmonic)
- Richard Stoltzman, soloist, both jazz and classical
- David Shifrin, chamber music and soloist
- Eddy Daniels, jazz soloist
- Benny Goodman, jazz soloist from the 1930’s-1980’s
- Concerto for Clarinet, K. 622, by W. A. Mozart,
- Concertino, by Carl Maria von Weber
- Grand Duo Concertante, by Carl Maria von Weber,
- Sonata in E♭ Major, by Johannes Brahms
- Sonata in F minor, by Johannes Brahms
- Sonata, by Leonard Bernstein
- Sonata, by Paul Hindemith
Sabine Meyer, Mozart Concerto
Benny Goodman, Sing, Sing, Sing
David Shifrin, Brahms Sonata in F minor
Richard Stolzman, The Maid with the Flaxen Hair
Bass Clarinet Videos
Michel Portal, Ivan Ivanovitch Kossiakof