10 Easy Clarinet Songs for Beginners (With Videos)

Clarinet beginners mostly are eager to play beautiful melodies of the songs they love during the process of learning. The technical exercises for holding a note, producing a beautiful sound, learning the different fingerings, etc. trigger them to rush.

Usually, people don’t know where to start and they choose a difficult song to play. This causes a big disappointment for them when they see that they are not yet ready to play that song. So, what kind of songs may help to avoid this disappointment and to start making music?

I made a selection of 10 easy clarinet songs from various genres and various periods to introduce you to. Learning easy songs from different genres and periods may be helpful to understand the rich characteristics of the clarinet already at the beginning. Gradually, you will advance as an intermediate player.

I think these songs may help you to improve your different skills while having fun. Having fun keeps you motivated and curious about what you do. The learning process may be very important for your decisions about your path, in case you are not sure yet about becoming a professional clarinet artist and also about what kind of music you want to make.

Besides, as the standard B♭ type of clarinet is best for beginners, you can find the sheet music easily on the internet to download, all of them are already transposed in B♭ for the B♭ instruments. There is no need for improvisation, alternate fingering, and similar stuff in the beginning.

In any case, the songs in the list below will help you to improve your technical and expressive skills during the process of learning the clarinet. I’m gonna briefly explain how and why each song in the list may be ideal for a beginner, so let’s start!

1. Canon –  Johann Pachelbel

Pachelbel’s Canon is one of the most famous Baroque music works. It was written originally for three violins and ground bass in the last years of the 1600s. Surprisingly, the distribution of this musical work was after the early 20th century. After its publication, the piece became so popular that it was possible to hear it any time on TV, in a movie, or at a wedding.

“Canon” had been transcribed for all the instruments you can imagine and the main theme of the piece had been adapted to many modern popular songs.

For clarinet beginners, it is important to develop their sound quality with long notes with the help of very well-known music that is easy to play and memorize at the same time. This is why I think that Pachelbel’s Canon may be one of the best pieces for beginners.

2. Ode to Joy – Ludwig van Beethoven

“Ode to Joy” is a poem written in the late 18th century by the German poet, Friedrich Schiller. One setting of this poem is sung by a chorus and vocal soloists in the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. This final complete symphony of the great composer has both classical and romantic stylistic characteristics, as the end of the classical era appeared at the time.

“Ode to Joy” became one of the most famous songs ever, because of Beethoven’s music. You may hear it during a sports event or a sports program on TV or radio. Just like Canon, also “Ode to Joy” had been transcribed for many different types of instruments over time.

For clarinet beginners, it’s an ideal song to learn, because it is well-known, likable, easy to play, and easy to learn. This great song helps you to improve the top register sounds.

3. Au Claire de la Lune –  Jean-Baptiste Lully

“Au Claire de la Lune” is a traditional French nursery rhyme. It is guessed that the song was composed by Jean-Baptiste Lully in the second middle of the 17th century. The lyrics of the song were published by Théophile Marion Dumersan in 1843.

I wanted to select one or two songs specifically for beginner young children but in fact, “Au Claire de la Lune” may be ideal also for older ages as a simple exercise to practice in the first weeks of the learning process.

4. Oh My Darling, Clementine – Percy Montross

“Oh My Darling, Clementine” is a Western folk song probably written by Percy Montross in 1884. The origin of the music is a mystery. It may be a Spanish ballad that arrived in America during the Gold Rush or maybe not.

The song is a soft ballad. It doesn’t require any complicated technique. However, it provides you with a new exercise for tonguing and practicing “dotted eighth notes & 16th notes”.

5. My Favorite Things (Julie Andrews) / The Sound of Music –  Richard Rodgers

“My Favorite Things” is a song from the musical “The Sound of Music” produced by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1959. The composer of the song is Richard Rodgers.

Learning this song on the clarinet is easy and the song gives you good vibes. Besides, the most important point; the notes that you play in this song are the most problematic notes in terms of tuning. This song may be a lifelong tuning exercise for clarinet artists.

6. The Pink Panther / Music from the Film Score – Henry Mancini

The Pink Panther is the music of the movie soundtrack composed by Henry Mancini in 1963.

The Pink Panther is originally written for the flute and it is not easy but when the music became popular, it had been simplified for beginner wind players, and it had been transposed into B♭ and also other keys.

I think this song may be an ideal beginner exercise for gradually preparing the embouchure and the breath to the alterations when you start to make progress with sound control. Increasing your average breath control will benefit you in the long run.

7. Hey Jude (The Beatles) – John Lennon and Paul McCartney

“Hey Jude” is one of the biggest hits of the famous band, The Beatles. The music was composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1968.

“Hey Jude” is a slowly played and yet enthusiastic song. It is melodic and easy to play. No technical challenge is required.  Learning to play “Hey Jude” on the clarinet may be a good practice to make more expressive of your musicality and interpretation.

8. If I Were A Rich Man / Fiddler on the Roof – Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock

“If I were a rich man” is one of the songs from the musical, Fiddler on the Roof that is composed by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock. The song is written in the Klezmer style and it sounds like the cheerful crying out of a poor man. I like this contrast.

Learning “If I were a rich man” may be a nice first step toward getting to know “world music”. Besides, it is a good exercise for practicing legato playing, detaché, and staccato tonguing.

9. Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin

“Don’t worry, be happy” is a famous song in a capella style written and performed by Bobby Mcferrin in 1988. Learning this song may be good practice for beginners especially to understand how syncopation works.

The above tutorial will show you how to play the song and take it step-by-step to fully master it. With a good practice session, you can have this one in your pocket.

10. Bad Guy – Billie Eilish O’Connell and Finneas O’Connell

“Bad guy” is a hit song by Billie Eilish written by her and her brother Finneas in 2019. The vocals of Billie Eilish in this song are joyful, dark, and kind of a softly-spoken style.

The transcription of the song for the clarinet is easy to play and you may even develop it later when you learn the essential techniques of the instrument. Learning to play “bad guy” may be fun, encouraging, and motivating for beginners.

Conclusion

With so many great songs out there, as well as many names that fall under the category of ‘greats’ like Mozart, Tchaikovsky, etc. A beginning clarinetist can be overwhelmed but with a wide variety of familiar songs, there are easy songs to learn with basic chord changes.

You can even opt for easier songs like ‘happy birthday’, ‘jingle bells’, ‘saints go marching in’, ‘hot cross buns’, ‘marry had a little lamb’, ‘la cucaracha’, ‘house of the rising sun’, etc. Stick to a familiar classical melody and gradually progress.

These songs are all relatively easy to play on the clarinet. It can be considered an easy list for beginners on the clarinet that can help get you started and more confident at playing the instrument. Most importantly, it can help you grasp the concept of rhythm and tempo as you practice. With a piano accompaniment on most of the tutorial videos, you will be able to produce great-sounding practice sessions.

Arda Tuncer is a music producer, composer, songwriter, arranger, and performer. She releases music as part of the music duo, Kronik Leila. She has worked and collaborated with some prestigious orchestras around Europe, while also holding University positions as music theory professor and music research assistant. Arda studied music theory and clarinet at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris and completed her degree at the Conservatory of Strasbourg in France.

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