The clarinet is typically a black instrument with just over a 3 octave range and in the key of B flat. There are other types of clarinet more rarely used including the clarinet in E flat, clarinet in A, alto clarinet, and of course bass clarinet.
The clarinet tends to fall below flute and above alto saxophone in a typical band score order. The sound is created by a vibrating reed which players can purchase of different thicknesses ranging from 1-5. Beginning players usually start with a 1.5-2 thickness while advanced players use 3-4. The thicker the reed is the more difficult it is to play however a 3 will produce a better tone that is much more rich and dark compared to a 2.
A typical beginning clarinetist will tend play with a cheap plastic clarinet. Once they have mastered the fingerings and the correct ombishure they may move on to a more expensive wooden clarinet whose tone is much more vibrant. The most popular brand of wooden clarinets today is the "Buffet" (buff-ey).
In an orchestra it is typical to see an average of 5-8 clarinets with the fewest playing the "top" parts and the most playing the bottom (or lower). When played correctly the clarinet has a beautiful tone on wide range of notes.
Jeff started playing the Bb Clarinet in fourth grade and would like to play the Eb or Bass Clarinet.
Kate plays a Bb Buffet Clarinet, uses Vandoren #3 reeds, and she is second chair.