Instruments and Equipment

All Levels:

A solid metronome/tuner, a silk clarinet swab, and clarinet stand are required of every student in my studio.

Tuner/Metronome: Korg has a number of wonderful metronome/tuner models available, and these models typically fit inside a clarinet case.

Silk Swab: The Hodge silk clarinet swab is the choice of practically every woodwind musician I know, and I have used them for close to twenty years myself.

Clarinet Stand: The clarinet stand is not required for lessons, as I have my triple stand sitting between the chairs, but it is required for instrument safety at home and school. The clarinet should never be stood on the floor simply on its bell, as this is a disaster waiting to happen when someone or something knocks it over and bends keys or breaks reeds and mouthpieces.


Clarinet: I recommend the Yamaha student clarinet for my beginners, as it has a pleasing tone and is very free-blowing for a plastic clarinet. The Vito by LeBlanc  is also a great choice in beginning clarinet models.

Mouthpiece: The Yamaha model has the added bonus that it comes with the Yamaha 4C mouthpiece included, but this mouthpiece or the Fobes Debut (my personal preference) would need to be purchased for other clarinets or Yamaha rentals that do not come with a 4C mouthpiece (which is common when renting through Music & Arts).

Ligature: Bonade Inverted ligatures have been a staple of great clarinet players for years, so I stick with them. I always have one or two in my studio for students to try, as well.

Reeds: Beginning students should be playing on Daddario Reserve Classic reeds in size 2.5 or Vandoren (blue box) size 2.5 reeds. While the Daddario reeds are slightly more expensive, they will last longer and have more playable reeds straight from the box. Not sure which you would like to try? Stop into Music & Arts or Check Levins to buy just 3 of each kind to try.


Clarinet: The Buffet E12 and the Yamaha YCL-450 are wonderful options for intermediate clarinets; however, it is often the case that students wish to upgrade beyond intermediate-level clarinets in the future. If your student falls into this category, please save up for a little longer and jump to a professional-level clarinet instead. There is little use in buying an intermediate and professional clarinet.

Mouthpiece: Typically, I will move students onto a Vandoren M30 (traditional) or Daddario Reserve X5 mouthpiece around the time the student invests in an intermediate or professional instrument. *Please note that these links require you to choose the specific mouthpiece from a drop-down menu on the right. Make sure you are purchasing the proper mouthpiece if you order it online.

Ligature: See above.

Reeds: Intermediate students will be moved to other styles of Vandoren reeds or higher strength Daddario reeds as needed.


Clarinet: The gold standard by which all others are measured is the Buffet R13 clarinet, which I play (A and e-flat). Within the Buffet line of professional-level clarinets, there are other models available at a higher cost,
such as the Tosca, Festival, VintageDivine, Prestige, and RC Prestige. Each model has its own strengths, so the student/student’s family and I would discuss this purchase together and decide which model would be the best fit for the student.  I play an R13 model A clarinet and an RC Prestige model e-flat clarinet.

Also to be considered are the Yamaha CSVR and SEVR clarinets. These phenomenal clarinets have the same bore and undercutting as the Buffet R13 and R13 RC clarinets, respectively. I have played on both, and I would recommend these clarinets wholeheartedly to anyone, including some of the professionals I play with on a regular basis. I am currently playing my own Yamaha CSVR, which sounds incredibly warm and resonant with even intonation. It takes an impressive clarinet to convince me to switch from my customized Buffet R13 that I have played for 25 years.

The Yamahas tout a lower price tag and more consistent intonation than the R13 line while still maintaining the rich warmth and dark color for which the R13 line is known.
*If you are ready to purchase a professional-level clarinet, we need to set aside a time together to meet and try instruments at Music and Arts in Ellicott City or Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center in Wheaton.
**Please do not order or buy a model of clarinet on your own.**

Mouthpiece: See above.

Ligature: If the student is truly seeking an advanced tone and response, I highly recommend the Silverstein ligature. While it brings a breadth of warmth and sound to playing, it also holds a hefty price tag, so this may not be the ideal choice for every student.

Other Accessories: Sometimes, even the most advanced clarinets can still be improved, so truly advanced/professional players may seek out the Backun line of bells and barrels, as I have. The Fatboy barrels and MoBa bells pair incredibly well with the Buffet R13 line, and I have invested in them for my own instruments. While more difficult to locate one in the States, the Paulus & Schuler Zoom barrels are becoming an industry standard, so these are worth consideration, too.

Reeds: Advanced students should be playing on Vandoren or Daddario reeds as discussed in lessons.

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