How to Play a B Flat on a Clarinet

By Cara Batema
The note B flat can have many different fingerings on the clarinet.

The clarinet can be a complicated instrument with regards to fingerings for each note of a scale. Each note can have multiple fingerings, depending on the register in which you are playing. The note B flat has a different fingering for each octave, and each B flat on the clarinet has multiple fingering options.

Place your left hand thumb over the hole in the back of the clarinet. This thumb hole will be covered for most notes, including some B flats.

Place your left index, middle and ring fingers over the three main holes in the front of the clarinet. These are the circular holes in the front at the top of the clarinet. You will skip over the teardrop or elliptical-shaped holes. Keep your thumb over the hole in the back.

Place your right index finger over the first right-hand main hole, which is the first circular hole where the top and bottom of the clarinet connect. While pressing down on all the holes from Steps 2, 3 and 4, blow into your clarinet. This note is the B flat below middle C.

Lift all your fingers. Place your left thumb on the register key in the back of the clarinet (the key above the back thumb hole). Your thumb will not cover the back thumb hole. Place your left index finger on the “A” key, or the teardrop-shaped key above the first left-hand main hole. Press these two keys and blow into your clarinet. This note is the B flat above middle C. You can also finger this note by pressing the “A” key and the second right side key (the second from the top of the group of four keys on the side of the clarinet, near where the bottom and top of the clarinet are connected). Use your right index finger for the side keys.

Place your left thumb over the back thumb hole, leaving the tip of your thumb to push down the register key. Place your left index and middle fingers over the first two left-hand main holes. From this point, you may either press the fourth right side key with your right index finger or the E flat key (the key in between the second and third left-hand main key) with your left ring finger. This note is the B flat two octaves above middle C.

Tip

Learn how to read a fingering chart. Use the chart, like the one found in references, to help you memorize fingerings for each note.

About the Author

Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.