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Practice Schedule?

I'm just returning to playing my clarinet, it's been 16 years since I played regularly in high school. So far for the last week, I've played for about 30 minutes a day, mainly working on scales, articulation, arpeggios, and then spending a few minutes just playing old stuff I still have for fun, just to hear a melody. I soon plan to invest an hour a day in my practice, but to be honest, my mouth is just too weak and sore at this point. It's getting easier every day though.

I am passionate about and dedicated to regaining the skills I had developed in high school and ideally to expand on that. I fully intend to join my local community band so I'll have a venue for playing, but I can not afford private lessons right now.

So I was wondering if any of you pros out there would share your practice routines? Do you work on different skills/techniques each day or a little bit of everything each day? I have the Rubank Intermediate Method book that I've had for a long time to use to brush up on my basic skills, then I will move on to the advanced levels in time. Any thoughts on that?



Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
The are great books on this, I know all the sax ones but not the clarinet ones. Hopefully someone will make a suggestion in that space.

Here's a simplistic practice session that I start my returning adult musicians on before they start up again with a certified teacher. I'm assuming you know about hot vs. cold air. (Blow on hand, if cool then blow with OOOh sound until warm air comes out. That is the best way to start to develop a great sound using warm air.) YMMV.

1. Long tones: start with your problem notes for clarinets like the bridge A, low Eb, high G, whatever. Play soft sustained for beats, crescendo to no louder than beautiful for four beats and decrescendo to as soft as you can and still maintain sound, support, and intonation for four beats. Do this in front of a tuner. So maybe low Eb, E, F, G and so one for 5 to ten minutes the first day. Watch that tuner and adjust by changing oral cavity, bite, embouchure.

2. Scales: start with C from the bottom note to the top for your instrument and do this against a metronome. Quarter notes are fine to start with until it is smooth and error free ten times, then move to eighth notes. The do F and Bb, G and F scales until they are smooth. Once these are in the bag and so lovely they could be solos, continue working your way around the circle of fifths. 10 - 15 minutes.

3. Read: start with play-alongs (a recording). I use Abersolds, but then I'm into jazz. There are a lot of play-alongs out there. I bought a bunch very cheaply at Half-price Books. 10 to 20 minutes depending upon how much you enjoy it.

4. Network: Contact the community band now and see if you can sit in with a principal clarinet player for one or two free lessons. I know I do this for returning sax players all the time.

5. Equipment: There is nothing worse than playing a non-functioning instrument. Get someone to check it over. This alone could save you years of wasted practice time and/or eliminate resulting bad habits developed to compensate for a lousy clarinet.
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Thanks for such a timely and thorough reply! I like your plan! I'll print it out and incorporate it in my daily sessions!

One thing I've learned this week is I need to start getting regular exercise again, particularly cardio as I tend to run out of air pretty quick!

I have looked online at countless clarinet method books, and it seems like they are all geared for younger learners... so I'll be thrilled if anyone knows of anything out there other than Rubanks.....

Kris :O)


Old King Log
Staff member
Another approach...

...to a method is to take up the books published by Lazarus in the late 1800's. They are a complete "method", and more melodic (in my addled brain, at least) than the Rubank series. However, they were originally designed for the Albert system instrument, so be sure to supplement them with Klose or Baerman studies to get the all-important Boehm little finger work addressed.

(Lazarus used horns with the patent C# mechanism, so his little finger problems were different than ours.)
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