Woodwind.OrgThe Clarinet BBoardThe C4 standard

  BBoard Equipment Study Resources Music General    
 New Topic  |  Go to Top  |  Go to Topic  |  Search  |  Help/Rules  |  Smileys/Notes  |  Log In   Newer Topic  |  Older Topic 
Author: mariana11 
Date:   2006-06-25 01:10

I've been playing the clarinet for several years in the school band, and I began taking private lessons about six months ago. I've been able to do everything my instructor told me to do easily, except that I have a horrible embouchure. I can't keep my chin flat. He keeps telling me to smile and then close my mouth around the mouthpiece, but it hasn't been working out. Does anybody have any advice on how I could improve it?

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2006-06-25 01:38

Er...how does it sound, your embouchure? For me that is what counts. If you can reach all notes, don't leak or get overly tired and have a good tone, who cares whether your chin is flat or you're smiling. Everyone's face is different...

(I always found such formal advices silly, somehow. Here no one ever told me to smile or to flatten my chin - once they saw that I've found the sweet spot they were happy with my embouchure)


Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2006-06-25 02:47

I, personally, believe this is not good advice. I tried playing this way many, many years ago and the "smile" embouchure caused me more problems than I care to mention.

Perhaps you might be interested in the following:


Here's another link that might help you:


This one might be the most comprehensive of them all:


I would like to hear from the many teachers we have here on the BB.

Good luck!

Post Edited (2006-06-25 03:09)

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2006-06-25 02:51

The "smile" advice is a bit misleading I think. The best way to think of the embouchure is to have firm support ALL AROUND the mouthpiece. So the area between your lower lip and chin should be firm. And so should the area to the left and right of your lips as well as the area above your upper lip.

Perhaps think of your lips as a rubberband applying pressure all around rather than just up and down. To engage your cheek muscles just think about the feeling you have trying to get some resistant substance through a straw, and just apply this blowing out instead.

And of course the other key piece to the sound is to ensure that you are generating a steady, supported stream of air. That will yield a very full sound.

........Paul Aviles

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: FDF 
Date:   2006-06-25 12:54

Marianall, the board members have IMHO offered excellent tips.

Describing embouchure may be more difficult than using a correct embouchure. Jack Brymer, in his book, Clarinet, has a simple, clear description that works well as a starting point, “ In the single embouchure, the reed is placed against the lower lip, which covers the lower teeth, and the mouth is then closed so that the upper teeth press upon the top of the mouthpiece.” (123)

A useful thought is that you are breathing, not blowing, through your mouth. Your breath is transformed into sound by the reed upon the mouthpiece. Your sound is then shaped by the instrument. Try breathing through your mouth with your lips placed according to Brymer’s description, you’ll discover it’s different from blowing through your lips.

Perhaps most useful of all would be to find someone who has a good embouchure and imitate what they do.

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: mariana11 
Date:   2006-06-25 15:01

Thank you so much for all of your advice!

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: Old Geezer 
Date:   2006-06-25 16:46

Larry Guy's hand book "Embouchure Building
for Clarinetists" addresses every problem in a
direct and authoritative way.

It may not be the last work on embouchures but
it's just about the best word!

Try and get a copy...it's less than $15.00; Van
Cott info services and others have it. You'll
be glad you did...it's really helpful!

Clarinet Redux

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: Brandon 
Date:   2006-06-25 17:22

Embouchure Article

This is an article written by Carmine Campione of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. A bit wordy, but certainly worth reading.

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: BobD 
Date:   2006-06-25 19:12

If you have been playing for several years you have evolved "your" emb. and it's probably just fine .....as long as you sound "good".

Bob Draznik

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: pmgoff78 
Date:   2006-06-25 20:24

My personal theory on embouchure is that it must produce corners firm enough to support your sound. The 'flat chin' theory accomplishes this, but it is NOT the only way. I've gotten funny with my embouchure, but no one has ever complained about how I sound....or how high I can play.

Best of luck to you

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: michele zukovsky 
Date:   2019-11-11 03:15

do you know those big slushy straws?
they are for those slushy drinks.

get a straw (which is thicker than a regular straw) and suck on it---without the drink, and you will have a good embouchure.
also practice double lip. that sets up a good looking embouchure as well!


Post Edited (2019-11-11 03:37)

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-11-11 14:46

Nice Michele! Boy do I ever agree with this learning experience. I think the Smile approach is wrong and it was the old school way of teaching. That puts your whole embouchure in the wrong position, effecting the tongue position as well. The straw is so simple! Yes I have always played with a double lip and this naturally a nice sound and increases articulation.

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-11-11 20:18

The reason teachers use 'smile' and 'pointed chin' is that they were taught that way, and it probably works for them. But what those muscle shapes do is thin the lower lip so as not to absorb the high overtones. Make a fat lower lip and the sound gets duller without projection, or the clarinet sound beauty. With the thin lower lip and the 'straw' muscle shape as suggested above, (the shape of whistling, which is another way to describe the muscle shape), and you will have the most proper and efficient embouchure.

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-11-11 20:39

And the way to do that properly is to pull BACK and DOWN. This makes your face look a little like a parrot.

One of the negatives of the "smile" is that it leaves gaps on either side of the mouth where you will leak air. Then you're stuck trying all sorts of straining to fix the air leak.

But as Ken correctly points out.........it's ALL about the thinning of the lower lip.

..............Paul Aviles

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2019-11-11 20:48



Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: EbClarinet 
Date:   2019-11-18 04:53

Well your chin DOES need 2 b flat as it can b. My trombone band director wanted 2 take me off 1st Clarinet and put me on bass because he thought my chin wasn't flat enough. I wouldn't let him because I loved playing the high notes and technical passages. I didn't want 2 b bored all day.

I saw this chin flattener device when I was a child that goes between your chin and instrument. It's made of steel/iron and seems applicable here.


Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-11-18 06:52

At the risk of overstaying my welcome in the thread, I would say that the "chin thing" is still just a function of maintaining a thinner lower lip.

And just to add what I have posted on other various topics, Bas DeJong of Holland had told me some years ago that German playing colleagues are as amused as they are bumfuzzled (a technical term used in the South) over the American clarinet players' obsession with embouchure. Using their (German system and German mouthpiece) long facing and small tip opening with a soft reed (2 1/2 strength Vandoren Traditional White Master) they (the Germanic players) pretty much just put the mouthpiece in their mouths and blow.

................Paul Aviles

Reply To Message
 Re: embouchure
Author: fernie121 
Date:   2019-11-18 08:31

I know that some like to have to work hard for whatever reason, but I always choose equipment that allows me to play freely and with as little strain as possible. This usually results in lighter reeds and mouthpieces with a lot of “hold”. If you are spending all your energy just trying to make a tone, that doesn’t leave much room for musicality imo.

Reply To Message
 Avail. Forums  |  Threaded View   Newer Topic  |  Older Topic 

 Avail. Forums  |  Need a Login? Register Here 
 User Login
 User Name:
 Remember my login:
 Forgot Your Password?
Enter your email address or user name below and a new password will be sent to the email address associated with your profile.
Search Woodwind.Org

Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale

The Clarinet Pages
For Sale
Put your ads for items you'd like to sell here. Free! Please, no more than two at a time - ads removed after two weeks.

     Copyright © Woodwind.Org, Inc. All Rights Reserved    Privacy Policy    Contact charette@woodwind.org