The clarinet is more than just a wind band instrument – it is also a highly-valued member of an orchestra. Its sound compliments the string section and stands out as well. The clarinet is often a favorite instrument among new musicians and those looking to expand the range of what they can play. One big advantage to learning the clarinet is that the fingering for this instrument is the same as many other woodwinds, including the flute and saxophone. So by learning one, you'll have an easier time learning the others!
As with many other instruments, your local music store is a great place to start. They will help you choose a brand to fit your budget. If you're not ready to buy an instrument yet, you can rent a clarinet first and try it out. You can also get insurance, if you want it.
The Buffet clarinet (B12 student model) is a good beginner's clarinet, but this manufacturer also makes high-end instruments as well. If you have been thinking of trying a Yamaha clarinet, the YCL-250 is a good one to start with.
People often love the sound of the clarinet, but would prefer a deeper bass tone: this is where the bass clarinet comes in. A good bass clarinet player is one of the prized members of a band or orchestra, and often these musicians begin on the regular clarinet.
Although you can get accessories at a music store, ordering online can be cheaper if you know exactly what you want. You can choose from various clarinet mouthpieces, clarinet reeds (tip: beginners use softer reeds to avoid squeaks), clarinet cases and cleaning equipment.
Many people start learning to play clarinet in a grade school band, but if you are in high school or are an adult, you might want to consider private lessons. Your teacher will choose clarinet music for you to learn from, usually called a method book. As you improve, your teacher will give you more challenging clarinet sheet music and method books.
Your teacher will also guide you on your choice of clarinet reeds. Reeds are an important part of the instrument, and the better you get, the stiffer the reed you will require. This helps you improve your quality of tone as your embouchure (the way your mouth interacts with the mouthpiece) strengthens. Softer reeds help a beginner produce sound without fatigue, but harder reeds produce a clear and beautiful clarinet tone.