What age should I start to learn Clarinet or Saxophone?
Is it better to start on Saxophone or Clarinet first?
The short answer is, you can begin to learn many musical instruments at a young age. And there is no right answer as to which instrument to start on first. But I can offer some ideas. When it comes to clarinet and saxophone, I normally wait until at least 4th grade to begin students and there are a couple of reasons for that.
It may be a good idea to stop by the music store and try a lesson with the clarinet or saxophone before renting or purchasing an instrument. The only problem with young students is usually hand and finger size. On the clarinet, your fingers must be large enough to completely cover the air holes. With the saxophone, your hand must be large enough to wrap around and hold the saxophone appropriately without hitting side keys with your palm. Clarinet is often the better choice for beginning students, but it is good to try and size up an instrument before starting, to ensure success.
Many teachers and musicians recommend and prefer a student to start learning clarinet first. There are a couple reasons for this. One, clarinet is smaller, easier to handle, and cheaper. Two, most musicians double on different instruments, and the most common secondary instrument for a saxophonist is being able to play clarinet fluently. And three, in some ways clarinet has a lower barrier to entry and can be easier to play initially (though this is highly debatable). However, clarinet also offers more complicated fingerings and technique challenges as you continue to learn more registers. This presents itself as an ideal learning tool for any serious student.
And lastly, I personally started on the saxophone and loved it, but I regretted not learning the clarinet earlier in life as there are many differences between the two instruments.
Again, I’d recommend coming in and trying out both instruments. Have your student see and feel each one and decide for themselves what they are most interested in. The number one factor should be motivation when choosing a first instrument. When you are not motivated to learn and really practice, your success is greatly diminished.