When you feel a bit isolated as a bass clarinet player...

When you feel a bit isolated as a bass clarinet player...


Here’s an email from Ohio. Seems that someone needs some support. They write:

Hey, I am a music education student in Ohio. I am not quite sure why exactly I am writing you.

I I have played the soprano clarinet my whole life but was given the bass to play for my symphonic band—and I now enjoy it more than clarinet. However, the repertoire and actual music put out for this instrument is just so small and I don’t really know if it fits in no matter how much I want it to…I was just wondering if you had any advice on how to take this instrument more seriously. I love the bass clarinet.

Okay, so there’s a lot to parse out in here: 1) Repertoire is limited (untrue), 2) doesn’t fit in (also untrue), 3) isn’t taken seriously (also, also untrue). It’s super important we clarify those before you head out into a career teaching students!

It seems you just aren’t exposed to many others who play/love the instrument. You’ve come to the right place.

Let’s take your issues one at a time.

  1. Repertoire. There are literally thousands of pieces for solo bass clarinet, and of all different styles and difficulty levels. The instrument is enjoying a huge surge in popularity—most of this music has been written in the last 50 years. And of that, probably half of the rep has been written in the last 20. You can find a lot of it at Alea Publishing and Van Cott. Heck, you can find a lot of it right here on earspasm! Mind you, almost ALL of this repertoire was written for a specific bass clarinet player—there are lots of us around!

  2. Doesn’t fit in. I’m not 100% sure what you mean by this. Instruments are just that—tools. Does a hammer fit in better than a screwdriver? It’s not the tool; it’s the carpenter. It’s what you do with the tool. Now, if the question is whether you fit in…well, I’m not able to say. I don’t know you. But it ain’t your instrument!

  3. Isn’t taken seriously. Far from the truth here. Bass Clarinet is one of the hottest instruments right now. Just look at jazz sax players. Many of them are playing bass clarinet a lot. They aren’t all playing oboe. Or violin. Just sayin’.

Ignore the haters (and honestly, I doubt there are any out there!) and focus on learning your instrument. Play it as well as you are able. Enjoy it for a lifetime. And teach others to enjoy it too. If you’re in music ed, that’s so important!

Thanks for writing,


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