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 Lower Lip Problems
Author: BrianC 
Date:   2010-06-11 03:07

In the past year I've been trying to rework my embouchure and I've been somewhat successful. But one thing keeps bothering me: the amount of lower lip I should take in. When I put the pressure point of my lower lip on the "border" between the lip and the skin (where most clarinetists have it), I get a dull, unfocused, and airy tone. When I place the pressure point around the middle of the fleshy red part of the lip I get a better clear, round, and warm sound. This, however, decreases my endurance and seems less comfortable. Also, the second way just looks incorrect because of the amount of visible lower lip. The first way seems to make my corners pull out too far, so that I get air leakage. In both methods, my chin remains pointed and my top lip remains the same, so the amount of lower lip only seems to affect my corners and tone. Could anyone give me some advice on what to do?

I play on a Vandoren M30 mouthpiece, with 3.5+ Rue Lepic 56 Reeds. I have a Buffet R13. One idea I did have was that my mouth piece required too much embouchure pressure for me, and so the only way to compensate for this is to have less lower lip between my teeth and the reed. Maybe I should get a different mouthpiece? If you agree, maybe specify what kind as well.

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 Re: Lower Lip Problems
Author: Katrina 
Date:   2010-06-11 03:21

IMO, your teeth as fulcrum under the lip should end up putting pressure on the reed about half-way through the lip. Sounds to me like you're doing it right. Endurance will come with time. Plus if it sounds better, it _is_ better (to paraphrase someone somewhere at some time)...

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 Re: Lower Lip Problems
Author: Tobin 
Date:   2010-06-11 03:42

"The first way seems to make my corners pull out too far, so that I get air leakage. In both methods, my chin remains pointed and my top lip remains the same, so the amount of lower lip only seems to affect my corners and tone."

If you're leaking air out of the corners, then you aren't committing all the air necessary to excite the reed they way it should (and perhaps deliver the sound you want). As opposed to looking at it as if the lower lip causes the corners to do something, why don't you try the other way around?

Obviously the embouchure is a fluid system of interlocking variables.

Good luck!


Gnothi Seauton

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 Re: Lower Lip Problems
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2010-06-11 13:09

I would go with more lip. There is less indurance of your initial method because there is only a very thin layer of flesh with capilaries and nerve endings between you and the reed on which you are pressing.

The solution to the corners is to think of the embouchure as a rubberband surrounding the entire mouthpiece. To achieve that you need to engage your upper lip muscles as much as your lower lip muscles as much as your cheek muscles........... ALL OF THEM. In your case the upper lip is missing entirely from the equation (and some cheek muscles).

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

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 Re: Lower Lip Problems
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2010-06-11 14:58

Believe it or not everyone does not have the same thickness or shape of their lips. As you experiment with more or less lip settle on the way that gives you the best overall result and then build up your resistance. No two people are alike. The thinnest part of one's lip is the spot where the pink and flesh color meet, that's how I play. I know many players disagree with that saying you should take in "less" lip. I get the result I want by playing that way. The only downside to that is my lip tends to get "cut" more inside so I always use a teeth guard, in my case I use floral tape, others use different types of material. ESP http://eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Lower Lip Problems
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2010-06-11 15:04

One thing you might give some attention to is why when you take more lip over your teeth it "seems to make my corners pull out too far, so that I get air leakage." In general, taking more lower lip shouldn't "make" you do that at the corners - different muscles control each. There are still other muscles involved around the entire circumference of the mouthpiece that you may not be using much if at all. Check to see where the corners are and what they're doing when your lip is in each of the two positions. See if you can get more lip pulled in *without* changing the corners or stretching them apart (away from the mouthpiece, allowing air to escape). Just to feel which muscles do what, try stretching the corners out with less lip pulled in to duplicate the air leak with less lip over your teeth.

It sounds as though you're concentrating too much on one area of the embouchure (lower lip) and not controlling the rest.

Good luck,

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 Re: Lower Lip Problems
Author: Gordon (NZ) 
Date:   2010-06-13 11:09

I'm no expert, but have an analytical approach. IMO it is not just a matter of how MUCH lip you put over the reed, but also a matter of how thick or THIN you make that section of lip in contact with the reed.

It seems that for clarinet, as opposed to sax, requires quite a thin strip of lip tissue in contact with the reed, hence a fairly thin strip of lip tissue over the teeth, which is achieved by the right amount of drawing the corners of the mouth apart before laying the reed on the lip and closing the lip like a rubber band. This seems to me, vital for good tone.

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