If you have a child in elementary school or middle school that wants to play the saxophone or a bassoon, chances are good that he or she has been encouraged to start with a clarinet. It is very easy to switch from one reed instrument to another, especially once a clarinet player has learned to play over the break between B flat and B natural. The clarinet is also one of the cheaper instruments that you can purchase, allowing you to not lose too much money should your child decide that he or she is more of a choir type. To make sure that the clarinet lasts as long as possible so that it can be resold or passed on for years to come, you need to take good care of it. Here are some tips for getting that done.
1. Get Him or Her the Right Tools
First, you need to purchase your child two cleaning swabs. A swab is essentially a rag attached to a string with a small bead or sink on one end that will cause the string to fall through the clarinet. Your child places the sink into the clarinet and allows the string to fall through. Then, he or she pulls the string through the bottom of the clarinet's bell, forcing the swab through the clarinet and picking up any excess spit. This swab needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Make sure that your child has two so that allows you or your child a full week to clean the other one.
Also be sure that your child has cork grease. Cork grease keeps the corks lubricated so that when your child puts the pieces of his or her clarinet together, the corks don't suffer too much friction and rub away. Corks can be expensive to replace and the clarinet will not be able to play without all of the corks in proper working condition. Cork grease will keep these corks from becoming damaged.
2. Show Your Child How It's Done
Next, either show your child how to put the clarinet together and use the swab or have an expert teach your child. You need to show your child how to put the two main pieces of the clarinet together without putting excess pressure on any of the relatively delicate keys. You also need to show your child how to put his or her reeds away on the clarinet so that they don't crack too early. Finally, you need to show your child how to get the mouthpiece onto the clarinet without cracking the reed.
You can talk with a store that sells musical instruments, like Wilmington Jewelry & Loan, for more information on the care of your specific instrument. Lastly, your child's music instructor will probably go over maintenance issues with your child, so make sure you are present for that conversation so you can learn as well.