How to read clarinet sheet music?6 min read
You’ll probably learn to read any music that is written in the treble clef once you learn how to read clarinet sheet music.
The other name for clarinet sheets is simply sheet music. It uses the exact same standard notations as most other instruments. One needs to have the knowledge of special techniques if anyone wants to learn the specific notations of clarinet music.
Fortunately with the clarinet, learning how to read music and the procedure of learning to actually play the clarinet are exactly the same. But remember, while the procedure is the same, the skill sets needed are completely different.
A pianist, strummer, or any other instrumentalist is required to use both the treble and the bass while reading music.
But here, in the case of the clarinet, we just need to know how to use the treble.
A clarinet player needs to just play one note at a time. Therefore, s/he must have an understanding of reading clarinet notes and that it comes from knowing basic sheet music rules.
Choosing an ideal clarinet
While choosing a clarinet, you must gather enough information regarding its quality, material, design, and make. Physically, the body of a clarinet is made up of a thin material (usually organic and natural – like wood for example) that has design elements in place that enable you to keep on your mouthpiece with a ligature.
The ligature is nothing but a round piece of organic material that is placed over your mouthpiece and helps to tighten the instrument reed in place. The reed vibrates to produce a sound when you blow into the mouthpiece. As a beginner, you must start with a lower, thinner reed until you are able to comfortably have a good command of the thicker ones. Each reed is responsible for affecting your sound. Several brands of reeds are available in the market nowadays. You can check out different ones, to see which one suits you the best.
Preferably, a wooden one produces a much better tone than others. Instead, if you are someone who wants to join a marching band, then a plastic one would be better as it would not get easily ruined in the weather outside. You’ll find a wide range of different reeds with varying thicknesses. Just remember that the more the number and thicker the reed, the harder it will be to produce sounds.
Reading the clarinet music sheet
You’ll be required to know the basic points while learning how to read sheet music. You must know five basics before you can play.
Learn the notes on the staff
It is important to learn the names of the notes on both the line and the spaces of the staff, before actually playing the music.
In order to learn them, just observe the clef symbol at the beginning of each staff carefully. It will tell you the clef of your piece. The treble clef is regarded as the most important clef used by many musicians who are at the beginners level of their musical life.
For the treble clef, we have five lines from bottom to top. And these lines are as follows: E-G-B-D-F. This might sound difficult to remember. To make it more simple, just learn its mnemonic, “every good boy does fine.”
The next step requires you to learn the word “face”. This helps you to know the space notes from bottom to top (F-A-C-E).
Learn the various dividers of the piece
This step needs you to know the basic marks that divide the entire piece into measures and sections. There are single vertical lines called bar lines which divide the piece into measures. You’ll find an ending bar line followed closely by a thick vertical line at the end of the piece.
Also, there are many songs that have one or more pairs of closely spaced double vertical lines which are responsible for dividing the pieces into sections.
Learn the time signature
What you have here is a basic set of rules regarding the overall timing of your song in each measure. You might have seen two numbers stacked one on top of the other at the beginning of the piece, after the clef symbol. These two numbers are actually the time signatures for the piece. The number on the top will help you to know how many beats must be there in one measure.
On the other hand, the bottom number will help you to understand the kinds of notes to be there in one beat. Having these numbers and the time values together will show you how to count each measure.
Learn the notes and the rests
From the previous point, you might have noted the importance of time values. And therefore, here you’ll learn some basic information concerning the time values of various notes and rests.
Firstly, remember that every note will have an oval note head. It may also include a vertical step. In simple words, it may be attached to the note head on the right side of the head in simple songs and one or more flags, i.e., attached to the stem on the side opposite the oval. You will play and hold notes for differing numbers of beats, based on different combinations of these parts of the notes.
Basic concepts to remember
Sharp – The sharp sign is represented as a pound sign. It is responsible for raising the pitch of your note half a step. This happens once you move to the next key to the right on the clarinet or the next fret closer to its body.
Flat – A flat is represented by a lowercase letter ‘’B’’. Flat is responsible for lowering the pitch of your note half a step. This happens once you move to the first key on the left of the clarinet or to the next fret closer to its body.
You must pay attention to every note change whether it is denoted by a sharp or flat sign. Generally, clarinet players are observed playing notes up or down one half-step. When this becomes important, a special sign is placed in front of the note.
As already discussed, a pound symbol represents a sharp (one half-step up). On the other hand, if you observe a small “b” symbol it means that the note should be played flat (one half-step down).
Once you understand and conceptualize all these points in detail, you will be well on your way to knowing how to read sheet music!
If you really want to become a successful clarinet player, don’t waste another day. Start practicing and understanding its elements simultaneously.
Note down the points enlisted and start your journey! Revise each lesson before moving to the next lesson. As a beginner, this will definitely help you with your lessons. Just don’t mix the concept of playing the clarinet with the process of reading a music sheet. As we have mentioned earlier, both of them are individual categories and require completely different skills.