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, after
every practice or performance, etc. Also, swab your clarinet during
these 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.