hands

Hand Position

| Category: Technique

This post describes the best way to place your hands when playing clarinet. This is a great check-up for anyone who’s put the instrument down for a while, or if you’re just starting to play clarinet for the first time.

  • KEEP FINGERS CURVED: Hang your hand down to your side, let your fingers relax. Use that relaxed curve to place your fingers over the tone holes of the clarinet.
  • RIGHT ANGLES: First three fingers should make a right angle (slightly leaning so that you can hit the side keys easily – see the picture to the left).
  • EXTRA KEYS: There are many more keys on the clarinet than just the 6 holes we’ve covered. Make sure you have a good angle to hit these keys, such as the 2 keys above your left hand and the 4 above your right (see picture to the left).

Right Thumb Placement

Right thumb - incorrect

Right thumb – incorrect
Right thumb - correct

Right thumb – correct
This thumb is used to hold the instrument up in place. The correct spot to place the thumbrest is the line where the nail and finger meet. Work on keeping the thumbrest in this spot. Your fingers will bunch up and have trouble covering holes & other keys if your thumb isn’t in the right spot.

Left Thumb Placement

Left thumb - incorrect

Left thumb – incorrect
Left thumb - correct

Left thumb – correct
Place thumb at an angle so that you can cover the thumbhole and the register key at the same time. When you’re not using it, the thumb should float instead of resting below the tone hole. You won’t be able to play very fast and can develop uncomfortable habits if this is not done properly.

Special Notes:

Follow these suggestions! Incorrect hand positions can lead to serious injury! It may not be as comfortable at first, but remember that your hands are going to get bigger as you get older. The more you try to follow these guidelines, the better (and easier) your playing will be over time.

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