Learning to play the clarinet opens up a wide range of opportunities to perform music solo or in group ensembles.
No matter what type of music you’re interested in, chances are you can find sheet music for it. For beginners, however, finding easy clarinet sheet music can seem daunting. Whether you’re visiting your local music store or shopping online, there are a few strategies you can use for choosing music that is approachable and fun.
Sheet Music Terminology
Before you purchase any sheet music, it helps to have a good idea of what you’re looking for. Nobody wants to buy what they think is the sheet music for their desired song only to find that it is not playable. For beginners, the terminology of the musical world can be overwhelming. Here are some basic terms and definitions to help:
- Staff: The set of five lines that run across the page and indicate different musical notes
- Clef: The pitch that determines which notes are on a particular staff, indicated by a symbol on the far left of the staff
- Key Signature: The inclusion of sharps or flats on the staff that indicate what key the music is in
- Solo: Music that can be played alone, sometimes includes an accompaniment
- Accompaniment: Supporting music for a solo, often played with a different instrument than the solo part
Types of Clarinet
To make things more confusing, there are also different kinds of clarinets that require different sheet music. The standard clarinet, which is generally what people are referring to when they mention the instrument, is actually a B-flat clarinet. Other types of clarinets include alto clarinet, bass clarinet, and more. There are eleven commonly-known types, with dozens more variations and custom versions.
Finding Usable Sheet Music
The most important aspect of purchasing sheet music is making sure that it is usable for your instrument. Music that is written for B-flat clarinets should be labeled as such. The label may specify that it is for B-flat clarinet, or simply that it is for the clarinet. Other types of clarinets should be accordingly labeled as bass clarinet, alto clarinet, and so on. The label may be found near the top of individual sheet music or on the cover of music books.
B-flat clarinet music should always be in treble clef. You can find clarinet music in a variety of keys within treble clef, which are identifiable by the sharp or flat symbols towards the left of the staff. For reference, use charts online or in music books that explain which sharps or flats correspond to which keys. For beginner clarinet players, the easiest music will be in the key of C-major, without any sharps or flats on the staff.
Easy Clarinet Sheet Music Options
Once you understand the basics of what to look for, you can start browsing easy clarinet sheet music with more confidence. Many sheet music websites have built-in filters that you can use to sort selections by instrument, difficulty level, and even key signature. Before you start grabbing random music, however, it helps to know what your options are.
Types of Sheet Music
Easy clarinet sheet music can be purchased in a variety of formats. If you’re looking for quick, convenient access, one of the easiest ways to buy it is in the form of downloadable PDFs. You can easily print these on your home computer, or play them directly off the screen. This instantaneous access allows you to avoid waiting for shipping or having to travel to a physical store.
When purchasing any kind of individual sheet music, be sure to check for accompanying music that goes along with it. Oftentimes, this will be included in the purchase, and it may even be printed on the page alongside the clarinet notes. Solos with accompaniments are a classic choice for performances. If you have a friend that plays the piano, guitar, or another instrument, it can be a great opportunity to play music together.
Oftentimes, sheet music is also sold in the form of books or collections. The music in a book may be centered around a certain theme, or it may be a workbook meant to help you improve at playing the clarinet through various lessons. Lesson books are usually clearly marked with the level they are meant for and can be a great way for new clarinetists to noticeably progress from beginner to intermediate to advanced playing.
Purchasing Your First Sheet Music
Knowing what your options are and the basics of musical theory can help you find easy clarinet sheet music that will be playable and fun. Beyond that knowledge, it is up to you to browse for what interests you. Jazz, classical music, movie tunes, and more can all be played on the clarinet. Don’t be afraid to use trial and error, especially if you’re making small online purchases of individual music. You’ll improve as a musician through the learning process and eventually get a better feel for the type of sheet music you enjoy.