It’s very easy for a young child to to fall in love with the clarinet: its sound is creamy and mellow in the lower register, while exciting and trumpet-like at higher pitches. The first encounter may happen when a marching band comes down the street, one or two musicians play jazz in a subway or, sadly, less-common nowadays, at a classical concert. The clarinet has a leading role in all these situations and many more. It may be at a school concert that it is first heard but it is less commonly offered in primary schools. This is down to size and weight, along with the complexity of assembling the instrument, which all make it better suited to a start at 11+.
I usually recommend delaying lessons till the child is about nine. However, there can be no hard and fast rules, as children come in a range of sizes and rates of physical development and some can cope earlier. However, with a plastic instrument, designed for younger players, a start can be made much sooner by many. The tone quality of these instruments is very good and they are real clarinets. Here’s the international soloist, Julian Bliss, playing, as a 5-year old, on a plastic instrument:
Graham Lyons, the inventor of this clarinet has now produced a new model, marketed as ‘Clarineo’ and available in white, black or silver. These instruments will serve the child well in the first few years of tuition and are accepted by UK examining boards for performance up to and including Grade Three.
Want some music for absolute beginners on clarinet? Then visit my
Clarinet for Beginners Downloads page.