Jenny Ziefel's Clarinet and Saxophone Studio

–Clarinets and Saxophones (single reed instruments) are complex machines that should be handled with care. Forcing an instrument together can bend keys, so use corkgrease if it is difficult to twist the pieces together.

–NEVER REST A CLARINET ON ITS BELL WITHOUT A CLARINET STAND–it will not stay upright without a wider base. Put the clarinet in its case or horizontally on a chair or desk.

–Saxophones should be laid on the side with the fewest keys on a raised surface. Instruments can get stepped on when left on the floor.

–ALWAYS SWAB THE INSTRUMENT AFTER YOU’RE DONE PLAYING IT. Every player should have a swab (a cloth with a weight on the end of a string) provided with the instrument. Pull the swab through the entire clarinet and through the pieces of the saxophone EXCEPT FOR THE MOUTHPIECE. Then carefully wipe the mouthpiece with the cloth.

–Keep the instrument in its case when not in use or when transporting it, getting out only when you are at the location at which you’ll be playing.

Hard Rubber and Plastic Mouthpiece care:

–Wipe out the mouthpiece with a soft cloth or swab after playing—DO NOT pull the swab through because the friction can wear away the sharp edges of the mouthpiece and prematurely age it and do NOT use a harsh brush or scrubbing pad.

–Thoroughly clean the mouthpiece once a month with COLD water and a few drops of lemon juice or COLD water and white vinegar.  Clarinet mouthpieces should be soaked beak down up to the cork—don’t soak the cork—and sax mouthpieces can be soaked fully.  Mouthpieces should be soaked for 2-5 minutes and rinsed with COLD water.  Wipe dry with a soft cloth—NOT A PAPER TOWEL, and enjoy…

–NEVER USE HOT OR BOILING WATER ON RUBBER OR PLASTIC.  It warps both types of mouthpieces (which ruins them) and makes plastic brittle–they will shatter very easily.

–When a player is ill, it is a good idea to use rubbing alcohol to sterilize the mouthpiece and reed.  Just use a cottonball to wipe the mouthpiece with alcohol after playing.  You can also use soap and COLD water.

–Mouthpiece patches (either thick or thin) can be used to make the player more comfortable and to keep the mouthpiece from getting tooth marks.


Every instrument needs repairs about once a year because of wear and tear. A yearly check-up with a qualified instrument repairperson is a good idea for a well-used instrument.