Clarinet

clarinetIf you are beginning to learn the clarinet then here is a list of some of the best beginner tutor books available to help you choose the most appropriate book for you. All of the listed music books contain brilliant systems to help you master the clarinet though each is slightly different with some suited to younger pupils, some more mature. Some contain more popular tunes and some are more technique based. I have tried to list the best attributes from each book to help you choose.

Have a browse and please feel free to leave any comments that you feel may be appropriate to help other beginner musicians on their journey !

 

team woodwind saxTeam Woodwind

This is my favourite tutor book at the moment. It has a good repertoire with some standard clarinet tunes thrown in (Stranger on the shore….of course!!), is easy to understand and follow and is laid out in a very clear, teacher friendly way with each new page containing good clear explanations. This book is probably not very well suited to very young pupils. I would suggest it is aimed at pupils aged about 10 and above. The book now comes with a play-a-long CD which makes practice a bit more fun. There is also a lesson diary & practice chart at the front to help monitor a pupils progress.

Each page includes a picture of the correct clarinet fingering and the position on the stave of each new note that you are about to learn. The book starts with some simple rhythm studies on the note of E and then progresses page by page through the notes D, C, F and G with some simple repertoire including merrily we roll along, Au clair de la lune and Acapulco Bay (which is a good little duet that can be played with a tutor or with another pupil). From there you are introduced to 3/4 time before securing fingering with some more tunes (including Barcarolle) concentrating on the notes you have learned. From there you progress down the lower notes of the clarinet with each new note including a diagram for fingering and position on the stave. You are then introduced to slurs, tied notes, quavers, scales and key signatures all the time introducing new notes as you go.

As you work through the book you move onto notes of the upper register and more complicated music and time signatures such as 6/8 time. At the back of the book is a full list of all major and minor scales and arpeggios. Repertoire in this book includes :

  • Amazing Grace
  • Blowin’ in the wind
  • Don’t sit under the apple tree
  • Edelweiss
  • God save the Queen
  • Go tell aunt Rhody
  • London bridge is falling down
  • Greensleeves
  • Morning
  • Moonlight serenade
  • Star Wars theme
  • The Pink Panther
  • Minuet (from Divertimento No. 4)

There are many many more really well know tunes including a good selection of Christmas tunes.

In conclusion this is a very good series (a lot of the tunes work with the TEAM books for sax and flute as well as the brass series for trumpet/trombone/cornet etc.). As I mentioned probably not best suited for very young pupils but if you do choose this tutor book you are guaranteed to have fun and a great and comprehensive learning experience.

TEAM WOODWIND : CLARINET

Cormac Loane & Richard Ducket

 

Abracadabra CLARINET

This is a brilliant book that is aimed at slightly younger pupils. The earlier editions of the series used to include some fun pictures on each page to make them more appealing to younger pupils though they have now been removed from this latest edition. That said it is still a very well laid out and fun book to learn from with a very clear fingering chart on each page to show how to play each new note as you learn them.

The book starts with the notes E, D and C using some basic rhythm exercises to get the pupils started. Interestingly the 5th piece is a simple duet to be played with your teacher which I think is a really good idea as it introduces harmony right from the start. You then move through the notes F, G, A and low B using tunes such as Au clair de la lune, Merrily, Hot cross buns, Pease pudding and When the saints go marching in (all tunes that are generally known to younger pupils). You then gently move through the full range of the clarinet using a mix of duets and generally well known tunes. Repertoire in this book includes :

  • Ode to joy
  • Love me tender
  • Scarborough fair
  • Puff the magic dragon
  • Old Macdonald
  • Daisy Bell
  • Rakes of Mallow
  • Country gardens
  • Skye boat song
  • the American patrol
  • The Entertainer

Plus many more well known tunes. This book also contains a small selection of Christmas tunes.

The book is quite light on the rudiments of music so it is probably aimed at pupils that are learning with the help of a clarinet teacher who would, presumably, be able to fill all the theoretical gaps (common sense I guess as not many younger pupils would be self taught !). At the back of the book is a full listing of  all scales/arpeggios required up to ABRSM grade 1, 2 and 3.  All in all this is a very good, well laid out  and fun tutor book that I would definitely recommend for the younger pupil.

ABRACADABRA CLARINET

Jonathan Rutland

 

Learn As You Play

This is a good comprehensive tutor book. It is laid out in units with each unit incorporating a new note or technique. The only problem that I have with this book is that is does not have a selection of popular or well known tunes to play. I feel it is always nice as a pupil to play songs that you actually know ! Also this tutor book is not laid out in a way that is appealing to younger pupils but don’t let that detract from what is a very comprehensive system.

As mentioned the book is broken down into units. Unit 1 starts with the notes C, D, E and F. Again I feel this is not suitable for very young students as right from exercise 1. you are moving between 2 different notes (E and D). Then through the first 4 exercises you move through all 4 notes using crotchets, minims and semi breves (whole notes, half notes and quarter notes for our American friends). This is fine for older pupils but, having used this book quite a bit I have found that younger pupils really struggle with all of this and can be overwhelmed, which is not a particularly desirable outcome right from page 1!

On the plus side (or for older pupils) the book does then move through the units a page at a time introducing new notes and some basic rudiments of music as you go. Each new unit starts with a brief explanation of what is about to be learned, then some exercises to practise and then some pieces to work on. The units are interspersed with advice on tone development, musicianship, finger technique and other helpful tips. At the end of the book are some concert pieces and a comprehensive fingering chart.

In conclusion I feel that this is a good system for older pupils. It does not have a lot of popular tunes, most of the repertoire is based in classical. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. Pupils would probably get the most from this book if used in conjunction with a tutor.

 

LEARN AS YOU PLAY : CLARINET

Peter Wastall

 

otto langeyOtto Langey

This is the mothership of tutor books! Not one for the faint-hearted or the absolute beginner but if you have a basic grasp of your instrument (or even an advanced grasp!) this book will take your playing to the next level. This  tutor book does have some basic instruction for a total beginner to clarinet (including a fingering chart) but I would suggest you use this book in conjunction with a more basic tutor book as listed on this page. If on the other hand you are looking for a music book to really help with your facility, technique and reading skills then this is the book for you!

The beginning of the book is dedicated to the rudiments of music, explaining the stave, the clef, notes and duration of notes, bars, rests and time. There is then a very comprehensive fingering chart for both the simple system and the Boehm system (most modern clarinets now use the Boehm system). From there you are introduced to some simple long note exercises and to scales/degrees and intervals. This is where I feel this book is most useful to players who already have a grasp of the clarinet as, most tutor books will begin in the lower (or chalumeau) register of the clarinet (which is the easiest register for beginners to produce sound) before progressing into the upper (or clarion) register. The Otto Langey does not. Right from the start the exercises use the full range of the clarinet.

The first exercises are dedicated to scales upon intervals (in thirds,fourths, fifths etc). You then move through various studies in various keys (some are duets for pupil/master…I love the terminology!).  You are then introduced to exercises in appoggiatura, gruppetto, shake, chromatics and exercises in articulation. Phew ! The book then moves to some very comprehensive exercises before finishing with some concert pieces.

This is definitely a book that will improve your playing and reading skills but it is not really for the absolute beginner.

OTTO LANGEY 

Otto Langey

 

standard of excellenceStandard of Excellence (Band method)

As a stand alone tutor book I would not really recommend this book. It offers really good clear explanations on each page and provides a good selection of tunes but where this series of books really excels is in group tuition. I was once in a teaching situation where we were presented with around 40 children all of whom were absolute beginners. Standard of Excellence enabled us to start individual/small group lessons across all instruments (woodwind, brass, percussion) and then come together as an “Orchestra” all playing and learning together. This is where I find this book is best. Individually the tunes presented are ok but really do come to life when played as an ensemble.

At the front of the book is a practice journal which is always a welcome sight for tutors ! The book starts with some long note exercises using the notes E, D and C. This is broken down into 3 sections : Clarinets only, Woodwind only and Full band. As I mentioned, this is where the book comes into it’s own as it enables group tuition right from beginner level.

The book does contain a selection of relatively well known repertoire including :

  • Hot cross buns
  • Au claire de la lune
  • merrily we roll along
  • Theme from “symphony no 1” (Brahms)
  • Free Jacques
  • Largo from new world symphony
  • Kum ba ya

The book finishes with four major scales (C, F, G, Bb) and a chromatic scale.

This is not a book that I would choose as a stand alone tutor book but for a young or beginner ensemble I find this system to be outstanding.

STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE

Bruce Pearson

 

Cool Clarinet

This is a fantastic series of books aimed at younger learners. The pages are bright and vibrant with lots of fun colourful pictures mixed in with the required knowledge for each section. The sections include little puzzles/quizzes/crosswords all aimed to help younger pupils have fun whilst learning. Each book comes with a play-a-long cd.

The start of the book has a page of all the contents with a tick box next to each so the pupil can go back and mark off each tune as the learn them. Next there are some really good clear pictures of how to assemble, hold and produce your first sound, with a small, but important section on posture. The next 5 pages are all dedicated to the 1st note of E. This may at seem a bit of over-kill but it is a really good way to make sure that the young learner is secure in the basics of holding the clarinet and producing a good clear tone. They are very basic tunes all on one note but the accompanying backing tracks make them fun to play. At the end of this section is a fun little music quiz. This is all very basic but is brilliantly laid out.

Next you move very gently through the notes D, C, F all the time using fun pictures to include some basic rudiments. At the very end of the book is a certificate for your teacher to sign and date. You are now ready for book 2……..

There are 3 different level books in the series along with separate repertoire books and a teachers copy with piano accompaniments. The course of books runs from absolute beginner to about ABRSM grade 4 standard. I can highly recommend this course for younger learners.

COOL CLARINET

Heather Hammonds

 

Ready Steady Clarinet

This is another fantastic system aimed at really young learners. It is brilliantly fun, introducing the notes slowly and clearly. There are plenty of short pieces and performance ideas which are great fun. It comes with CD accompaniments (and has a teachers book available).

A quick glance at the contents will show how brilliantly this book is laid out with the list going through the notes E, D, C, A, G, F, G (high), B, F# and Bb with each section having four or five short tunes in it. Each section is really colourful and basic which is exactly right for very young learners.

This is another really great system for younger learners.

 

READY STEADY CLARINET

Sarah Watts