Clarinet Chromatic Scale



The clarinet chromatic scale is a great scale for your technique as you learn to play. Why?

  • The chromatic scale covers all of the notes of the clarinet, so in the time it takes you to play it up and down, you will have played all your notes. 
  • Chromatic passages show up in a lot of different pieces for clarinet, so if you already know your chromatic scale really well, those passages will be a lot easier to learn. 
  • The clarinet chromatic scale works in a lot of small finger motions,  which you can use when you're working on your hand position. Memorize your chromatic scale and you can work on your hand position in a mirror as you play it.

Learning the Clarinet Chromatic Scale

In this video, I go over all the fingerings for the chromatic scale and then you can hear a slow example and a fast example:

When you're first learning the notes of the chromatic scale, the amount of notes and fingerings to learn may seem overwhelming. Remember that you don't have to learn the entire scale in one sitting! 

If you're more of a beginner, I recommend learning the scale one chunk at a time. In the section below, I've divided the scale into 7-note groups, each starting or ending on either an E or an A#/B♭. If you learn one group a day, you can learn the entire chromatic scale in a week!


Group 1: Low E --> Low A#/B♭ 

Start on your lowest note, E, and play E, F, F#/G, G, G#/A, A, and A#/B. Start on A#/B♭ and play the notes in reverse order. Then play it up and then down, like this:

Tips:

  • Play E with the left pinky key and ALSO put down your right F pinky key. 
  • When you go from E to F, you just have to lift up your left pinky key and your F key is already down.
  • Leave the F key down when you play play F# on the left.

Group 2: Low A#/B --> first line E

Start on A#/B♭ and then play B, C, C#/D♭, D, D#/E♭, and E. Like in Step 1, play them in reverse order, and then up and down:

Tips:

Play Bwith the fork fingering so you don't have to flip between your first and second fingers between A#/B♭ and B♮. From A#/B♭, all you have to do is add the fork key with your third finger to make a B♮.

With D#/E♭, you can either play it with the bottom right side key or the left sliver key. I play it with the left sliver key so I keep all the motion in my left hand.

Now that you know two groups of notes, put them together! Play low E up to first line E and back down.

Group 3: First line E --> Third line line A#/B

This group has the same note names as Group 1, just up an octave.

From F to F#/G♭, play the F#/G♭ with the side fingering (left thumb on the thumbhole + bottom two side keys). Then you won't have to flip between your thumb and index finger.

Keep your left index finger curved as you play the throat tones (G-B♭)

Group 4: Third Line A#/B--> Fourth Space E

This group has the same note names as Group 2, just up an octave.