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I currently play tenor sax but would like to pick up clarinet in the near future. How difficult would learning to play Clarinet be, given my experience as a tenor and long time piano player? How much will my knowledge of Sax help?

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Disclaimer: I’m a fellow sax player and have more or less never blown into a clarinet.

As you probably know a clarinet does not have an octave key (it has a key which makes the clarinet jump to the fifth of the octave instead). Because of that, you shouldn’t expect fingerings between saxophone and clarinet to be related at all.

Other than that, I’m guessing your embouchure would be useful (at least in the medium — clarinets have a crazy range), as would your general dexterity and, obviously, your knowledge of music.

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"Unrelated" is rather an overexaggeration. The shift of an octave plus a fifth should be pretty simple to get used to-- practically like reading an alto part with a tenor sax or vice versa. (disclaimer: I was a clarinetist who doubled on sax; but over the years I transposed Bb-Eb, Eb-Bb, C-Bb, A-Bb, Bb-A). – Carl Witthoft Jan 3 '14 at 12:34

Given that most of the reed players I've worked with bring sax (tenor/alto/soprano) and a clarinet and often a flute, leads me to say it won't be too much of a problem. SOME of the fingering is the same, and the embouchure is similar. Since you have musical knowledge from playing piano as well, it will be quite an enjoyable, straightforward job. I'm often surprised when a sax player does not also play a clarinet.

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From what I have learned, the fingerings are more similar between sax and flute, than it is to clarinet. – awe Jan 3 '14 at 12:11

Practice long tones on just the mouthpiece and barrel with a tuner at first. You should produce a C# (concert). Your embouchure should be firmer, but don't bite. The chin should be stretched flat at all times and the jaw should never move. Basically: corners in, top lip stretched down, chin flat. The "smile" embouchure should be avoided, as should any upward muscle movement. (Think "in" and "down"). Once you are able to produce a steady tone consistently, start using the clarinet. When you start working on clarinet, first stay in the low register, without using the register key. Start on open "G" and work your fingers one at a time all the way down the clarinet so you can get a feel for where the holes are.
After a few weeks, you might be ready to start using the register key. An easy way to practice your tone here is to practice 12th exercises, fingering the nots in the chalumeau register and simply adding the register key. Try the exercises here: There are many other useful resources on this website as well. Good luck!

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My sister in law was playing sax, but needed to switch to clarinet to be accepted in our wind orchestra, since the sax was well covered but we needed clarinets. She used about six months before she felt good enough to start in the orchestra (her instructor felt she was ready sooner).

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I played tenor sax for years in junior high and high school band. I learned several instruments in the interim, one of them being clarinet. It was probably the easiest to transition to from saxophone, as the fingering and the embouchure are both pretty similar. The mouthpiece is smaller, and so your embouchure will need to be a bit firmer/tighter than you're used to. Given your long history with music in general, the learning curve shouldn't be terribly sharp.

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I played the clarinet first and had a go on the saxophone. I found the saxophone a little more difficult to control because I needed to relax much more. It's all about the embouchure.

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