Clarinet Notes

Odds and ends of clarinet tech and training

Clarinet gadgets from A to Z


I am a notorious gadget collector. Just for fun, I tried to come up with a clarinet gadget for every letter of the alphabet. The scary thing is I own every one of them! (Well, not the Uebel and the Jupiter, but everything else.) Here’s my list.



Abacus. Why is an abacus a clarinet gadget? It’s about those practice rules where you’re supposed to play a passage correctly 3 or 5 times in a row. Some people say move pennies to mark successful reps but I can never find any pennies, and I don’t have a flat space to put them on. Also I forget which side is the completed side. So I invested  about $5 in a toy abacus that sits neatly on my music stand.



Breath Trainer. I have several different breath trainers, since having enough breath to finish a phrase is one of my biggest problems. Most successful so far are Expand-a-Lung and Breather Fit.


Classical FingersClassical Fingers.  This device fits over the clarinet to train your fingers to stay close to the keys. I find it very useful on my R13. I couldn’t use it on my old E11 because the bands that attach it to the clarinet interfered with the bridge key.



Dice, Polyhedral.  Not for playing Dungeons and Dragons, but when you want to randomize your practice items.



Embouchure Builder. The fancy version is the Aurus 7, which fits over the mouthpiece and discourages biting. It also forces you to use more air. The plain version is to hold a pencil with your lips. I didn’t have much success with the Aurus.



Foam Balls. I have a bad habit of flapping my arms when I play expressive pieces. Holding the foam balls under my arms trains me to remain still.


Glue Dots, to keep my left pinkie from slipping off the C# key. Not a very successful experiment — the dot wouldn’t stick to the key.



Humidity Pack, to keep your wood clarinet and cane reeds at constant humidity. A large 49% pack is recommended for the clarinet case, and a small 72% for your reed case.



Incentive Spirometer. Another breath training device. The idea is that you blow into the tube and try to keep a ball suspended in the spirometer tube. This one came with a system called Air Revelation, and includes a program of training videos.


Jupiter Clarinet. I was reaching here — not exactly a gadget.




Kitchen Timer. For timing my practice sessions. Or for reminding me to take a break every 45 minutes or so.



Ligature. I think I have five of them, but couldn’t find the other two for the photo shoot.



Metronome (Boss-90). Yes, I know there are metronome apps. I have those too. But I’m a gadget freak. I had to have the Boss-90 because it does patterns, like shuffle, Jazz, Blues, etc.

Mascara Brush, for cleaning the mouthpiece and tone holes.



Neck Strap, to take some of the weight off your right thumb. Elastic or stiff (I prefer the stiff ones), with or without leather tabs to use if you don’t have a loop on your thumb rest. I bought a replacement thumb rest with a loop because the leather tab kept getting entangled with my bridge key.



Omnipatch.  These are special mouthpiece patches with a teeth guide groove that encourages taking enough mouthpiece. Made by Silverstein.


Pad Dryer.  Micro-fiber strip to put under the pads and absorb the water. Same function as cigarette paper and Yamaha cleaning paper, but these are re-usable.

Pipe Cleaner, for cleaning the register vent



Q-Tip, for cleaning the tone holes.


Reed plaque with finishing cloth set. This is a kit for working on cane reeds. I don’t even use cane reeds, but I found the idea fascinating.  Here is the explanatory video.


Straw in a glass of water. For practicing circular breathing.



Tuning Rings. These slip around the joint to lengthen the barrel, or even the middle joint.


Uebel clarinet. Reaching again, but if it’s good enough for Ricardo Morales …


Vinegar to clean the mouthpiece.I also use it to clean my Legere synthetic reeds.



Wrist brace. When I do too much playing, typing, or even holding a heavy tablet, I develop a pain in the tendon of my left thumb. I use two wrist braces, the small one (right) is one I can wear while I play. The big clunky one (left) I wear after I finish a practice session..



X5 Mouthpiece, D’Addario Reserve



Yahama Cleaning Paper.



Zoom Recorders and Mics. I have both an H2n audio recorder and a Q2n Video recorder. The H2n doubles as an external mic for my iPad and iPhone. I have also heard good things about the Zoom IQ6 external mic for iPhone, but I don’t have that one.


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