Whether your child is using an entry level clarinet or something like a Buffet Clarinet R13, cleaning and maintenance is of utmost importance and must be done after every time they use it. It's a great idea to get them into the routine of checking and maintaining their instrument. They'll not only develop their musical capability, they'll develop self-discipline, attention to detail and pride in their instrument. Here is a simple guide to cleaning a clarinet to ensure it continues to provide your child with many years of happy playing.
Why Clean It?
Whenever you play the clarinet your warm breath will create condensation in the cold tubing of the instrument. Moisture can not only cause deterioration on any of the metal fixtures, which can lead to rust, it is also a trap for bacteria which can cause bad odours and actually pose a bit of a health risk. However, with regular cleaning, this won't be an issue at all.
What Tools Will You Need?
A simple all-in-one cleaning kit is ideal and will consist of a cleaning rag or swab as it's sometimes called which looks like a handkerchief with a shoe string attached, a mouthpiece brush and some white vinegar. On occasion, when cleaning off any excess cork grease a paper towel will suffice. Cleaning rags come in silk and cotton variants; cotton being cheaper but has more of a tendency to catch with silk being more expensive and less likely to snag inside.
Cleaning The Body
Cleaning the body is simple enough and only takes a minute or so to do. Firstly remove the mouthpiece and drop the shoe string end of the cleaning rag through the bell of the clarinet and let it slide down and out through the end. This will enable you to pull the cleaning rag through from top to bottom to collect any moisture and saliva that has settled inside. Before pulling through just make sure the handkerchief part of the cloth is hanging loosely and not scrunched up. Doing this will increase the chance of it running through without catching. After you have pulled it through once, take the clarinet apart and just use your finger and the rag to clean around the joins.
Cleaning The Mouthpiece
Cleaning the mouthpiece is easy. Soak it for 5-10 minutes in a pint glass filled with equal parts white vinegar and warm water, before rinsing off thoroughly. Using your mouthpiece brush, scrub away any grime before running the cleaning rag or swab through to dry it off.