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Learning The Clarinet At 60+


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#1 silverstarter

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 10:57

Hi all,

I have been reading the very helpful and encouraging comments posted to JAGuy's 'Learning the clarinet at 40' topic.

I have recently retired and now have the time to do some of the things that I wished I had done earlier in life, but never managed to find the time for.

High up on my wish list is to learn to play the clarinet. Like John (JAGuy), I too have no previous formal musical training. My experience is limited to strumming a few chords on a guitar, and picking out a one fingered tune on a keyboard.

It has been suggested that perhaps I should learn to play the alto sax, as this is apparently easier than the clarinet. However I am not necessarily in this for the easier option, I fully appreciate that both my brain, and fingers are not as nimble as they once were!

So I am presently seriously looking into pursuing learning to play the clarinet.

I would probably hire an instrument in the first instance, and intend taking some early lessons. However I am undecided about following the normal Grade studies, as my ambitions are not high. I would like to enjoy progressing to a reasonably competant level.

Any comments and advice would be greatly appreciated, particulary regarding my age and lack of experience.

Best regards,

John (based in Mid-Sussex).
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#2 meerkat

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 11:08

My dad started clarinet at 68. He loves it. Get a teacher, be patient with yourself, and enjoy.
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#3 Tess

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 11:17

Good for you, go for it! (I will follow suit when my kids are grown up or doesn't need round the clock caring. For sure. Not clarinet, though. I would very much like singing and guitar lessons.) Best wishes, John. smile.gif
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#4 Deborah

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 11:18

Go for it! Don't beat yourself up if you're not playing the Mozart concerto in three weeks though. Take things at your own pace, and make sure you enjoy it.

Great choice of instrument - not that I'm biased or anything wink.gif
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#5 joyjoy

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 11:56

Go for it and like the others have said, take it at your own pace. I'm sure you'll have lots of fun. smile.gif
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#6 stevensfo

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:46

Go and visit the clarinet forum at www.woodwind.org

Plenty of posters in their seventies! In fact I learned almost everything I know about repairing clarinets from a 75 yr old gentleman who buy/repairs clarinets as a hobby and plays in concerts in the evening.

It's quite remarkable how much progress you can make when you're motivated and have spare time!

QUOTE
It has been suggested that perhaps I should learn to play the alto sax, as this is apparently easier than the clarinet. However I am not necessarily in this for the easier option,


Always learn clarinet before the sax!

Steve
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#7 Clariano

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 17:04

Definitely go for it! The clarinet is such a rewarding instrument! It may look difficult, and in reality, it can be, but everbody needs a challenge, so make this yours! The saxophone isn't nescessarily easier than the clarinet; it's each to their own. Good luck! biggrin.gif
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#8 Guest: skylark_*

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 17:49

Hello silverstarter and welcome to the forums smile.gif

Re whether to play clarinet or sax, I would choose an instrument for two reasons: which instrument do you prefer the sound of, and which instrument is more associated with the type of music you're going to want to play. For instance, if you want to play jazz, then either sax or clarinet would be fine, but if you want to play mostly classical music, then the clarinet would be better. And as others have said, it's generally recognised that it's easier to learn sax after learning clarinet, than to learn sax first and then go on to clarinet.

Age is so not an issue that I'm not even going to mention it (except to say that learning/playing music keeps you young biggrin.gif )

When I first started learning clarinet a couple of years ago, I had virtually zero musical knowlege in a technical sense. And I just wanted to play for my own amusement. Like you, "my ambitions were not very high"....
Two years later, I'm a member of a clarinet ensemble and a learner jazz band as well as my individual lessons, I've just played a solo as well as ensembles in my first forum concert, I go to forum playdays, I'm going to the forum studio recording in March and I'm organising a forum concert in Leeds in June. Oh and I've just started going on a singing course as well, plus I'm taking Grade 3 clarinet this session and I do the Theory of Music exams as well. I've also got the music and a teacher lined up for Jazz Clarinet with a view to taking Grade 1 later this year. So be warned - taking up the clarinet, and the forums, is seriously addictive and there's no telling what it will all lead to!!! biggrin.gif

Patience and practice are the key. You need lots of both! When I first started, I naively imagined that in a few weeks I would know all there was to know about playing the clarinet. Hmmm!!! I soon realised that it's not quite that simple - BUT, it's all the more enjoyable precisely because there is so much to learn. It's fascinating! And so rewarding when something clicks into place and you move up a notch. Taking up the clarinet has been one of the best things I've done - I can thoroughly recommend it!
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#9 jojo

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 22:12

QUOTE(silverstarter @ Jan 25 2007, 10:57 AM) View Post

Hi all,

I have been reading the very helpful and encouraging comments posted to JAGuy's 'Learning the clarinet at 40' topic.


Any comments and advice would be greatly appreciated, particulary regarding my age and lack of experience.

Best regards,

John (based in Mid-Sussex).


Welcome to the adult learners group Silverstarter smile.gif
Like the others have said: go for it and enjoy, you can do it.
Jo
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#10 Guest: The Old Lady_*

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Posted 27 January 2007 - 09:39

I agree with Skylark, age is not an issue. Enjoy your music.
Beverley.
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#11 silverstarter

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Posted 27 January 2007 - 11:12

Thanks for your generous and enthusiastic comments and encouragement.

I will have to go for it now!!

John


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#12 SaxFan

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Posted 27 January 2007 - 16:24

QUOTE(skylark @ Jan 25 2007, 05:49 PM) View Post

For instance, if you want to play jazz, then either sax or clarinet would be fine, but if you want to play mostly classical music, then the clarinet would be better.


I started sax only a few years ago as a senior! Go for it.
As to choice of instrument - well - it depends quite a bit on what you fancy really. I guess some are easier to start than others [there have been long and heated debates on other threads about this, but I suggest you just steer clear of all that controversy smile.gif ]

Jazz isn't an easy starter if you have only a little musical knowledge - as a lot of jazz is not written down but relies on feel for harmonies and progressions etc. But this might be something you just drop into ok, who knows till you give it a go?

As to classical - I think the sax is just as good for 'classical' music as the clarinet. Define what you mean by 'classical' music first. Clearly music wasn't written for saxophone before the middle to late 19th century, but lots of earlier music transcribed works fantastically well on sax! Bach works a treat on tenor sax, probably more versatile than the clarinet cool.gif Renaissance, Mediaeval and Early music sound great on saxes! And there is more and more new music being written now for sax and sax groups.

Talking of groups, remember if you went for sax you could easily make a sax choir/quartet etc because they come in SATB sizes! Have you considered Tenor sax instead of Alto? It's a lovely lovely sound, and you would be welcome in wind ensembles to play the lower lines - great fun! biggrin.gif

It's worth a little thought, but of course in principle, go for starting an instrument like that!!




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#13 Manek

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Posted 27 January 2007 - 16:28

Hello silverstarter...

I play clarinet and alto sax... Neither particularly well!

However, there is one MAJOR piece of advice I can offer you...

DO NOT TAKE ANY NOTICE OF THESE PRE-CONCIEVED NOTIONS REGARDING INSTRUMENTATION ETC!



It's something which is rife in the world of music, and something which I really dislike... It happens a lot in the world of drumming (I'm predominantly a drummer) for example:

"You can't play rock without a double pedal!" and "You can't play jazz with more than five cymbals!"

Yes you can...

Similarly...

"You can't play classical music on the saxophone!" and "You need to clarinet first if you wanna play the sax!"

It's simply not true...



You do whatever you feel that you wanna do! Go for it - trust your intuition and judgement...

And the opinions of musicians whom you respect - after all, there's nothing wrong with seeking advice, as long as you can trust and respect it!

But at the end of the day - it's your life and your choice!


Give it a go... Enjoy it... And don't forget to let me know how you get on!
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#14 carys

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Posted 27 January 2007 - 19:23

I love your nickname John! Definitely go for it. If you enjoy it, you'll have a new hobby and it'll open up a whole new world to you. (If you decide it's not for you, then - nothing lost. At least you'll have tried it).
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#15 Guest: skylark_*

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Posted 27 January 2007 - 21:21

QUOTE(Manek @ Jan 27 2007, 04:28 PM) View Post

Hello silverstarter...

I play clarinet and alto sax... Neither particularly well!

However, there is one MAJOR piece of advice I can offer you...

DO NOT TAKE ANY NOTICE OF THESE PRE-CONCIEVED NOTIONS REGARDING INSTRUMENTATION ETC!



It's something which is rife in the world of music, and something which I really dislike... It happens a lot in the world of drumming (I'm predominantly a drummer) for example:

"You can't play rock without a double pedal!" and "You can't play jazz with more than five cymbals!"

Yes you can...

Similarly...

"You can't play classical music on the saxophone!" and "You need to clarinet first if you wanna play the sax!"

It's simply not true...



You do whatever you feel that you wanna do! Go for it - trust your intuition and judgement...

And the opinions of musicians whom you respect - after all, there's nothing wrong with seeking advice, as long as you can trust and respect it!

But at the end of the day - it's your life and your choice!


Give it a go... Enjoy it... And don't forget to let me know how you get on!

blink.gif I can't see that anyone has said that you can't play classical music on the sax! Obviously you can play classical music on the sax! All I said was that clarinet would be better if silverstarter primarily liked classical - because in my experience, classical orchestras, even amateur ones, do not welcome saxophones with the same enthusiasm as the traditional classical instruments. So I thought clarinet would be safer in case silverstarter ever wanted to join an amateur classical orchestra at some stage, even if he doesn't envisage it now. Your experience may be different though, and lots of other forumites might also tell silverstarter that he need have no concern on this front, which would be great if that's the case!

Re which should come first, clarinet or sax, I know quite a number of teachers in real life who have all said that it is easier to learn sax after clarinet than it is to learn clarinet after sax. I also know a sax graduate who is currently learning clarinet and who wishes he'd done it the other way round. Again your experience may be different, but we can all only offer our own experiences, for what they're worth wink.gif
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