Clarinet tuning is an important skill to learn for any clarinet player, especially when the time comes to play in an ensemble. The clarinet is the most consistently in tune across its entire range out of all woodwind instruments, however the instrument needs to be in tune to start with!
Clarinets are usually tuned by pulling out the barrel (pulling the barrel slightly away from the body of the instrument) by small increments to lengthen the overall air column of the clarinet. An adage for beginner student clarinet players is “When in doubt, pull it out” meaning that if you are not sure if you are sharp or flat, you are probably sharp, and should lengthen the air column. However, more advanced players need more than just guess work when it comes to tuning.
There are various ways to tune your clarinet, which will depend on your situation. If you are playing as part of an ensemble, you will have to tune to ‘concert pitch’ usually by matching the A played by the oboe, which will be a B for the clarinet. Many players now chose to tune using an electronic tuner, however there is no point being in tune with such a tuner if the rest of the ensemble is not!
If you are playing a solo, an electronic tuner or tuning fork would be your best means of tuning. If you are playing a sonata or other piece that has a piano accompaniment, it is always best to tune your clarinet to the piano, as the piano is not going to be able to tune to the clarinet.
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