Tips for Playing in the Upper Register

Many young clarinet players learn to hate high notes because they have so much difficulty playing them. In the past, the first upper register note we were taught was often third line B natural. This required putting all the fingers down and adding the register key. Needless to say, this was often very difficult for small hands. Most teachers and books now use an easier and more sensible approach to high notes.

The most important requirement for playing high notes is a good, basic clarinet embouchure. Without this, it is almost impossible to play in tune in the upper register. Refer to the Tips for Beginners page elsewhere on this web site for more specific information about the clarinet embouchure.

Hold your clarinet slightly away from your body and put about ½ inch of the mouthpiece in your mouth. Sometimes, when you're having trouble playing high notes, just putting a little more of the mouthpiece in your mouth will correct the problem.

Try the following exercises by playing the low note and then adding the register key to play the high note.

When you have mastered the exercises above, try the following. In order to do these, you will start the same way, by playing the low note and then adding the register key. Then you will put one finger down at a time to get the next three notes. Notice that the last note of the first example in this group will be fingered the same as the two notes in the last example of the group above.

Now, try playing the following song. First, play it without the register key. Then play it again, using the register key and fingering the notes the same way.

Finally, try playing some of the songs on the song page elsewhere in this web site. Play them without the register key first, and then repeat with the register key.