Urgent Clarinet Maintenance: “Swab Your Clarinet and Clarinet Mouthpiece!”

ClarinetMike says, “Swab Your Clarinet!”

Urgent Clarinet Maintenance: “Swab Your Clarinet and Clarinet Mouthpiece!”
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

“Common sense (the best tool in a teacher’s toolbox) clearly indicates
you should swab out your clarinet, including the mouthpiece,
every practice or performance, etc. Also, swab your clarinet during
sessions as needed. Excessive water in the instrument, especially
“Flooding Out,”
hinders good clarinet playing.”

Many, if not most, of you are thinking, “Hey ClarinetMike, everybody knows that!” Well, I used to think so too, but in recent years it has come to my attention that many students do not swab their clarinets after every practice session. This is BAD for a million gross reasons.

Further, I have come to understand that some clarinet teachers do not emphasize (or even mention) the importance of swabbing the clarinet. THIS IS REALLY BAD.

Unfortunately, I have also come to understand that some clarinet teachers even tell their students to NEVER swab their mouthpieces ever. THIS IS SUPER DUPER BAD!!!

So, let me say it again, “Swab out your clarinet, including the mouthpiece, after every practice session or performance, etc.”

NOTE: The swab I’m holding up in the picture above is a GEM Swab. I recommend using “hanky” style swabs like this one. I do not recommend using the stubby little nylon cheapo ones that often come with new clarinets. These little demons can get stuck in your clarinet! And that is BAD!

A NOTE TO ACADEMICS: Having taught the clarinet at all levels for more than three decades, it has become clear to me that clarinet instruction in higher education in the music ed techniques classes is often inadequate. FYI, this is a driving force for the ClarinetMike Blog.

About ClarinetMike

American clarinetist MICHAEL DEAN performs and teaches internationally and across the USA to consistent praise such as "world-class clarinetist and pedagogue," "consummate performer," "inspirational," "outstanding teacher," "super," "brilliant performer," and "one of the best clinicians I have ever seen." His career is headlined by appearances at Carnegie Hall, ClarinetFest, NACWPI, Eastman School of Music, and Royal Northern College of Music with recent recitals and master classes in Canada, Italy, Spain, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, and Texas. In July, he will again return to Vipiteno, Italy as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence at the international Orfeo Music Festival 2019. He is featured on 5 commercial CD's and on New Media, such as YouTube. He is currently preparing another new clarinet CD, Postcards from Silver Lake. Dr. Dean has given more than 500 clinics, master classes and performances at high schools, universities, conferences and other venues. For 11 years he was a clarinetist with the Paducah Symphony and he's also performed with the Southwest Symphony, Nevada Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Southeast Chamber Players, Red Mesa Trio, and Duo 35. His articles appear in journals such as Southwestern Musician, WINDPLAYER, NACWPI Journal and The Bandmasters' Review. As "ClarinetMike," he writes for his widely-viewed ClarinetMike Blog, the Internet’s #1 clarinet blog read in 150 countries on 6 continents: clarinetmike.wordpress.com. After a successful 25 years of teaching clarinet at the university level, he relocated to his native Texas due to family concerns. He is a past president and former National Board officer of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI). Dr. Michael Dean studied clarinet performance at Texas Tech University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Texas at Austin and University of Texas at Arlington. His teachers include Robert Walzel, Phil Aaholm, Carol Jessup, Jess Youngblood, and Bob Ackerman. His web page, clarinetmike.com, features video of his teaching and performing as well as information on his CD's and other publications. He is a BG France Performing Artist.
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4 Responses to Urgent Clarinet Maintenance: “Swab Your Clarinet and Clarinet Mouthpiece!”

  1. Zorax says:

    Hi Mike, I heard that swapping the mouthpiece will eventually result in erosion that will alter it. What do you think? At what frequency do you change your mouthpiece, and for which reason?
    Thanks !!!

  2. ClarinetMike says:

    Thanks! You’re very welcome!

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