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Clarinet Playing | Resistance Exercise

26th May 2020

This is a neat little exercise to get you focussing on your air flow and air support. Regular use of this exercise will improve your sound and control.

The Exercise

Firstly *be careful* with this exercise not to get the cleaner stuck, always leave the cord hanging out! Take your pull through cleaner and roll it up into a tight little ball, and insert it up the bell of your instrument firmly. If you have any issues getting it back out, simply remove the bell and push from above if required.

So, assuming your pull-through is nicely inserted, just play a low E using your right hand finger, but with the register/speaker key open. Take a nice deep breath, and blow! It will emit a fairly high pitched sound, quite pinched (around a concert C#). If your embouchure and diaphragm aren’t correctly supporting the sound, the note won’t speak. So as Pete says “engage your cage” to support the air flow from within!

  • Carefully roll up your pull-through cleaner into a ball
  • Insert up into the bell, from the bottom end
  • Finger a low E, but depress the register/speaker key
  • Support the air to maintain and stabilise the pitch (Concert C#)
  • Then by adjusting your embouchure and support, explore the harmonic range

Work on maintaining a steady sound if possible. Then, you can work on trying to move up the harmonic series still with that fingering. You can do this by adjusting your embouchure slightly and increasing the air flow as Pete mentions in the videos.

Why Do This?

The idea is to help you bring your air flow and release of it under control. Bowing ‘against’ the resistance will help you manage your air speed and support. When that resistance is then removed you’ll find your sound is far richer and fuller across the range of your instrument. You can also find that the higher register feels more supported.

ps – Need a new pull-through? Check out our full range here.


About Peter Cigleris

Peter studied at the Birmingham Conservatoire from 1997 where his professors were Michael Harris and Colin Parr. Whilst at the Conservatoire, Peter won the prestigious John Ireland Chamber music award with a performance of that composer’s Fantasy Sonata. He was also awarded a place on the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Training Scheme. 

At the Conservatoire Peter performed numerous concertos with the college’s ensembles, he also developed an interest in early clarinets, which led to a performance with the Conservatoire’s Baroque Capelle Orchestra with the Chalumeau Concerto by Fasch. 

Peter went on to graduate from the Royal College of Music in 2002 with a PGDip. There his professors were Janet Hilton, Richard Hosford, Robert Hill and Tim Lines. During the summer of that year, Peter was awarded the Prix de Fossat and was invited to France to perform for Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark at a private reception.

As soloist he has performed in many venues across the UK and Europe and premiered several new works for the instrument as well as giving performances of concertos by Mozart, Weber, Finzi and Arnold to name a few.

Peter uses Backun MoBa Clarinets, available here. Visit Peter’s Website: petercigleris.com

Want more Clarinet Tips? Check out Peter’s Warm-Up video for Clarinets here.