First Clarinet Sounds

Say you've got breathing and embouchure down, but are working on your first clarinet sounds.

Click here for embouchure tips to help you make your first clarinet sounds

Click here for breathing tips

If you're first starting out, I recommend only using the mouthpiece and barrel.


1. It isolates sound production and removes the distraction of holding the entire clarinet and fingerings.

2. You'll know when your air and embouchure are working together correctly because the sound made on the mouthpiece and barrel will be an F#. This is consistent across different brands of mouthpieces, ligatures and reeds.

3. Playing on a shorter amount of the clarinet makes it easier to hear problems in your sound.

How to Make Your First Clarinet Sounds

Step 1: Say "ee" and then say "oo." The combination of these vowel sounds like the German e with an umlaut (the two dots over the vowel) on top.

This creates a high tongue position, or voicing, perfect for clarinet.

Step 2: With only mouthpiece and barrel, place the mouthpiece in the mouth and form an embouchure.

There should be 1/4 to 1/3 of the beak of the mouthpiece in the mouth.

Step 2: Breathe in through the corners of the mouth. Keep your top lip on the mouthpiece.

Step 4: Blow air through the mouthpiece without making sound at first, and then firm the corners and speed up the air to cause the reed to vibrate and produce sound.

Do not use the tongue to start the note at first. The pitch on the mouthpiece and barrel should be a fifth-line F#.

Things to Look For When Playing on Mouthpiece and Barrel

In Step 4, be aware of how fast your air has to be to make your reed vibrate. The point that your reed begins to vibrate is at least the speed of air you'll need to play with the whole clarinet.

Shoot for a consistent sound. It's common to have a wobbly sound or a sound that varies between loud and soft when you're first figuring this all out.

Go for a comfortable, medium-loud volume at this point and try to keep your sound the from changing during the note.

Check yourself with a tuner to make sure you have an F#.