Marching Bands

Do Clarinets Play in Marching Bands?

Clarinets are versatile instruments that are commonly used in various music genres, including marching bands. However, some people wonder if clarinets are actually used in marching bands or if they are replaced by other instruments.

The answer is that clarinets do play in marching bands. In fact, they are an essential part of the woodwind section, which also includes flutes and saxophones. Clarinets are known for their distinctive sound, which adds color and depth to the music played by marching bands. They often play in unison with other woodwind instruments, creating a unique and harmonious sound that is hard to replicate with other instruments.

While clarinets are not as common in marching bands as other instruments like trumpets or drums, they are still an important part of the ensemble.

Band directors often recommend specific clarinets that are durable and offer great intonation, making them perfect for outdoor performances.

Whether you’re a clarinet player or a marching band enthusiast, understanding the role of clarinets in marching bands is essential to appreciating the music and the art form as a whole.

Marching Band Clarinets

Marching band clarinets are a common sight in high school and college marching bands.

They are a type of woodwind instrument that produces a unique, bright sound that adds depth and character to the band’s overall sound.

In this section, we will discuss the clarinet for marching band, its durability, tone, and intonation.

Clarinet for Marching Band

The clarinet for marching band is designed to be lightweight and durable, as it needs to withstand the rigors of marching and playing outdoors.

Most marching band clarinets are made of plastic, which is more durable than wood and less susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity.

Plastic clarinets are also less expensive than their wooden counterparts, making them an attractive option for students on a budget.

However, some professional-grade marching band clarinets are made of wood, which produces a warmer, more resonant tone than plastic.

These instruments are more expensive and require more care and maintenance than plastic clarinets, but they are preferred by some players for their superior sound quality.


Durability is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a marching band clarinet.

The instrument must be able to withstand the physical demands of marching and playing outdoors without sustaining damage or losing its tone quality.

Plastic clarinets are generally more durable than wooden clarinets, as they are less susceptible to temperature and humidity changes and are less likely to crack or warp.

However, wooden clarinets are often preferred by professional musicians for their superior tone quality.

To ensure the durability of a wooden marching band clarinet, it is essential to store it properly and perform regular maintenance, such as oiling the bore and keeping the instrument dry and clean.

Tone and Intonation

The tone and intonation of a marching band clarinet are critical to its overall sound quality and the band’s performance.

The clarinet produces a bright, clear sound that is distinctive and easily recognizable. However, the tone and intonation of the instrument can be affected by factors such as the player’s technique, the reed’s quality, and the instrument’s condition.

Players must develop proper embouchure and breath control techniques to produce a consistent, clear tone on the clarinet. They must also choose the right reed strength and quality for their playing level and style.

A well-maintained and properly adjusted marching band clarinet will produce a clear, resonant tone with accurate intonation.

Choosing the Right Clarinet for Marching Band

When it comes to playing the clarinet in a marching band, choosing the right instrument is key. Here are some factors to consider when selecting the best clarinet for marching band:

Build and Durability

The clarinet must be able to withstand the rigors of marching band performances.

Look for a clarinet with a durable build, such as those made from bakelite or resin. The Mendini MCT-E+SD+PB is a popular option, as it features a durable ABS resin body and nickel-plated keys. The Selmer Bundy Resonite is another great option, as it is known for its durability and resistance to temperature changes.


When playing in a marching band, the clarinet must be responsive and easy to play. Look for a clarinet with a quick and smooth response, such as the Yamaha YCL-20 or the Ridenour Lyrique 576. These clarinets are known for their excellent response and intonation, making them a popular choice among marching band musicians.

Warm Tones

Finally, a good marching band clarinet should produce warm and rich tones that can be heard over the other instruments in the band. The Aileen Lexington BB Flat is a great option, as it is known for its warm and full-bodied sound. The Jean Paul USA CL-300 is another popular choice, as it produces a warm and resonant tone that is perfect for marching band performances.

When selecting the best clarinet for marching band, it is important to consider factors such as build and durability, response, and warm tones. By choosing the right instrument, marching band musicians can ensure that they are able to play their best and make a lasting impression on their audience.

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