The clarinet has one reed. The reed is made of wood. The reed is attached to the mouthpiece with a clamp called a ligature, which is usually made out of metal. Blowing through the mouthpiece makes the reed shake, and therefore makes the noise. The body of the clarinet is a cylindrical tube with holes. The holes are covered by the fingers to make musical notes. There are also buttons pressed by the fingers which allow pads over holes to open or close so all notes of the chromatic scale can be played.
The Boehm clarinet is much used by classical orchestras and by jazzmusicians. In North America, the most popular clarinet is the clarinet pitched in B-flat. This clarinet is used in concert, marching, and school bands. The A-clarinet is also used by musicians for orchestra.
A beginner clarinet player usually can play a note within the first ten minutes of instruction. Making a sound with the clarinet is easier than making a sound with many other musical instruments. Most instrumental music teachers consider it to be a good instrument for young players. The fingering system is very similar to the flute and the saxophone, so changing from playing the clarinet to one of these instruments is not too difficult after the student is comfortable playing the clarinet and has reached a certain level.
A famous piece that features a clarinet is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's work 622, which has the clarinet playing a melody with the rest of the orchestra playing along.