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 “ClarinetMike” 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.” Dr. Dean’s career is headlined by appearances at Carnegie Hall, ClarinetFest, NACWPI, Royal Northern College of Music, and Eastman School of Music, with recent recitals and master classes in Italy, Spain, Canada, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas. He recently returned for a fourth summer to the beautiful Italian Alps of Vipiteno, Italy as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence at the international Orfeo Music Festival. He is featured on 6 commercial CD’s including his soon-to-be-released new CD, Postcards from Silver Lake. He is also prominent on New Media, such as YouTube. He was clarinetist with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra for 11 years and he’s also performed with the Southwest Symphony, Nevada Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Southeast Chamber Players, Red Mesa Trio, and Duo 35. He has given more than 500 master classes, clinics and performances at universities, conservatories, conferences, festivals, high schools, junior high schools, and a diverse array of venues. As “ClarinetMike,” he writes for his noted and widely-read ClarinetMike Blog – viewed in 150 countries on 6 continents, clarinetmike.wordpress.com. His blog is the #1 clarinet blog on the Internet according to Google Search and a recent ranking on Feedspot. His articles also appear in professional journals such as the Southwestern Musician, The Bandmasters’ Review, WINDPLAYER, and NACWPI Journal. He is a past president and former officer on the National Board of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI). After a successful 20 years of teaching clarinet at the university level, he relocated to his native Texas due to family concerns. He is currently an active clarinet and woodwind performer, teacher, clinician, blogger, and consultant based in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Michael Dean studied clarinet performance at Texas Tech University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Colorado at Boulder, and University of Texas at Arlington. His teachers include Robert Walzel, Phil Aaholm, Carol Jessup, Bob Ackerman, and Jess Youngblood. He is a BG France Performing Artist and his professional website is clarinetmike.com. Mike and his family live in Hurst, Texas. His family’s new Golden Retriever, Nimbus, is a relative of Andy.
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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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