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How can I practice clarinet more quietly?

Is there a clarinet mute that works well? Particularly good ear plugs? I'd rather not either soundproof a room, or move to the basement / garage.

What I don't want to do is reduce air flow to make the instrument more quiet, as this has gotten me to develop bad habits.


similar questions:

  • 1
    Why do you ask about earplugs? Are the people who don't want to hear your clarinet playing in your household and willing to wear earplugs? Soft expanding foam earplugs are comfortable, cheap, and very effective. That all being said, this is at least bordering on a product search question. – Todd Wilcox Aug 4 '15 at 12:00
  • @Todd - yes earplugs for the others. Its not a product search; I am more interested in answers thought of yet. – David LeBauer Aug 4 '15 at 14:06
  • Would you consider trying a wind controller? That's completely quiet. – leftaroundabout Aug 4 '15 at 20:06
  • Depending on what country you are in, you might have the right to practice your instrument every day, and the neighbours just have to put up with it. Here in Germany there are fixed hours when you can do this. Check your local regulations. Of course you tell the neighbours about this in advance, and offer to play Happy Birthday for them as appropriate. – RedSonja Sep 16 '15 at 5:57
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Open your wardrobe and play into it. Put the end right in among the clothes.

My music teacher recommended this to me, and it works very well. I take my clarinet with me on long trips, and have practiced in many a hotel without anyone complaining.

2

Mutes

  • I would recommend using something like this:
    http://www.bill-lewington.com/saxmute.htm
  • It does soften the sound by about 50% for B flat clarinet.
  • Unfortunately, I don't believe that there is a mute made for an E flat clarinet.
  • Another thing you can do is play your clarinet into your closet so that the clothing drowns out the sound.

Earplugs

  • Cheap earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones can help others in the house avoid hearing clarinet sounds.

Disclaimer

  • There are definite downsides to playing an instrument at home. If the mute doesn't work for you, there are local music stores and recording studios that make sound proof rooms for this type of thing.
  • Clarinet mutes are not used as often as brass mutes.
  • I would agree that trying to do all your practicing pianissimo will not only keep you from learning dynamics but most likely will lead to bad physical habits that will be hard to break. Find a damped location or practice when nobody else is home. – Carl Witthoft Aug 4 '15 at 18:17
  • Driving somewhere relatively secluded and practicing in your vehicle might also be an option. – intuited Jun 8 '17 at 0:31
  • The sax mute link appears to be out of date. – intuited Jun 8 '17 at 0:34
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I've suggested this for various instruments - get in the car (only if you have one of course!), drive to a secluded place, play there. Don't be surprised if the law stops to question you, and drives off after, smiling or laughing!

A friend converted the back of his van to contain a drum kit, and did similar - even a small van/estate would be large enough. Singing is an obvious one to do in a vehicle, but it does lend itself nicely to practice time - providing it's not too cold out there.

  • 1
    In good weather, I'll go out to a park and play, and for the other 51 weeks of the year, the pastor at a nearby church who lets me use their building during off-hours. And as an aside, I got permission from another church where my only connection was through a friend, so if you ask you may be surprised what you can find. – Duston Dec 18 '18 at 15:17

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