the Clarinet Embouchure
by Bruce Pearson
agrees on the importance of a good embouchure for good tone production.
Embouchure, along with air support, determine the tone quality that is
produced on a wind instrument.
Experienced teachers know that the first
lesson is, perhaps, the most important in the playing career of a student.
This is certainly true when it comes to clarinet playing. Embouchure muscles
have a tendency to return to their habitual position. If the clarinet
students embouchure is not formed properly from the beginning, his
or her tone production potential may be impeded.
Assist students in forming and developing
their clarinet embouchure by having each be responsible for providing
a small mirror that can be placed on the music stand. This will allow
students to see that their embouchure is being formed properly.
Ensure a good formation of the embouchure
by having each student do the following:
- Put the mouthpiece and
the barrel together and secure the reed with the ligature. Slip a piece
of paper between the reed and the mouthpiece and slide the paper down
toward the barrel until it stops. (Click
here for photo 1)
- With a pencil, draw a light
line on the reed connecting the two sides of the paper. This line will
indicate where the lower lip should be placed.
- Hold the assembled mouthpiece
and barrel in one hand and place the tip of the thumb just under the
line that was drawn on the reed. (Click
here for photo 2)
- Remove the paper from behind
the reed with the other hand and shape the mouth as if saying whee-too.
Hold the mouth in the whee position while saying "too."
(Click here for photo 3)
- Cover the bottom teeth with
a small amount of the lower lip.
- Place the mouthpiece in
the mouth so that the lower lip touches the thumb that was placed just
below the line. The thumb should serve as a stop allowing
just the right amount of mouthpiece in the mouth. Too much mouthpiece
in the mouth will cause a harsh, raucous tone. Too little mouthpiece
in the mouth will cause a tight, constricted tone. (Click
here for photo 4)
- Rest the top teeth directly
on the mouthpiece. Close the mouth in a drawstring fashion with equal
support on all sides of the reed. The chin should be flat and pointed.
Using the mirror, check to see that the embouchure is formed properly.
- Firm-up the top lip. This
will open the back of the throat.
- Take a full breath of air
(filling the back of the throat) and play a long, steady tone.
the embouchure is formed properly, the following pitch should sound:
young clarinetists play a pitch lower than this resulting in an immature,
non-centered tone. To raise the pitch, have the student pull in the corners
of the mouth as if saying oo. If the pitch is too high, which
is rarely the case, the student should relax the embouchure as if saying
To ensure a well-established clarinet embouchure,
have the student play long tones daily.
By following these simple steps, students
will learn to form a good clarinet embouchure that will be important to
the development of a beautiful clarinet tone.
About Bruce Pearson
Copyright © 2000
Neil A. Kjos Music Company. All rights reserved.