Clarinets: Crossing the Break

Clarinets have a difficult task of learning to cross the break. The "break" refers to the a clarinetist shifting from one register to the next. More specificially, this refers to the change from the note A to the note B, where the musician goes from using one finger, to using all fingers. This skill requires much practice and does not come easily.

Here are some tips that may help...

  • Make sure your child is comfortable using the right hand. He or she should be able to play low notes clearly by covering all the tone holes completely.
  • Have your child work on using their pinkies. He or she should know which keys to use. If in doubt, check the fingering chart in the book for low F and low E, or ask your child's teacher.
  • Once the low notes can be played clearly with the pinkies, add the tip of the thumb to the register key. It's important not to uncover the tone hole in the back, so using just the tip of the thumb helps.
  • Most commonly, the third finger of each hand slips off the tone hole a little bit. Watch your child's hands and push their fingers back over the tone holes if they are having trouble.
  • Let your child take breaks when working on this skill. Let them physically stretch their fingers back, one at a time, just as if they would stretch their leg muscles before a race.


Clarinet High Note Worksheet


Clarinet High Note Songbook

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Music Education Services (MES) provides comprehensive band programs to elementary schools.