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 Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-11-23 17:51

Hi,

I'm just in the middle of converting to a double lip embouchure and I wondered if anybody else out there would like to chat about the mechanics of it?

I'm Grade 2 and working towards Grade 3. I'm finding my new embouchure really helps with crossing the break legato, but is a bit tricky for getting very high notes to be in tune. They currently come out a bit wobbly and flat.

I'd be glad to hear if any one else is working on this too.

Thanks!

Jen

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-11-23 18:36

I made the change 46 years ago, so I don't remember too much of the mechanics of the transition. I am fairly certain that, against most advice (including my own here to younger "switchers"), I didn't go back and forth to rebuild my embouchure strength. Once I began to play double lip, the advantages for me were clear enough that I couldn't comfortably go back to single lip after ten minutes - the single lip with my teeth on the mouthpiece just felt uncomfortable and the reed didn't respond as cleanly when I tried to go back. So I just shortened my practice sessions.

I did try for a while to play without any support from my upper teeth - opening my jaw/teeth so far that the upper lip and teeth were completely out of contact. That worked up to a point, but it tired me too quickly. I think there is a school of playing that does that - it may even involve not supporting the lower lip, either, and doing all the work of supporting and controlling the reed with the lips alone. That's tiring for me, and I find it important, or at least more comfortable, to have the reed resting on my lower teeth and the mouthpiece beak resting against my upper teeth, with the lips interceding and cushioning on top and bottom and controlling the mouthpiece from the sides.

I teach two young ladies who happen to play double lip. They had taught themselves to play that way before they came to me, so I wasn't the instigator. The biggest problem I notice in their playing is a tendency for the instrument, and as a consequence, the mouthpiece, to move in their mouths. The slight wobbling that happens when they move over large intervals (moving several fingers at once) or over the break can cause audible changes in the sound or in the worst case bad connections or even squeaks. You have to prevent those wobbles with a combination of embouchure firmness, right thumb support, and maybe when added stability is needed, some knee support under the bell.

The high note difficulty may be a matter of finding a more efficient contact point on the reed for your lower lip, or it might be a problem with reeds that are either too hard (so they need more lip pressure than your newly active lip muscles are ready to give) or too soft (so the pressure you need to control them for high notes closes them).

Double lip doesn't mean not engaging the muscles of your lips (now both) - they aren't just cushioning the contact points. The action of closing your lips around the mouthpiece provides the embouchure pressure on the reed that your jaw may have been providing before. The distribution of the pressure, in my sense of what double lip does, is different from the bottom-up jaw pressure that can result from playing single lip - with double lip I feel as if I'm supporting the sides of the reed more reliably. In time, you'll gain flexibility in approaching reed strength.

Karl

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2019-11-23 19:51

If you meant altissimo notes, above C6, then maybe voicing needs adjustment. It's possible that with single lip you had been relying on biting or extra lower jaw pressure toward the reed to control altissimo notes, and with double lip you almost automatically don't bite that way (because it hurts.) Those altissimo notes don't need any extra pressure from the embouchure at all, zero. The tongue does the voicing; keep the tongue arched or high along it's whole length, i.e. flexed, not flabby at any point. Do that right, and support the reed enough so it can vibrate freely, and those notes float out sweet and in tune.

Reduction of biting or unwanted lower jaw force is one of the common benefits of switching to double lip. Unnecessary lower jaw use can interfere in many ways, and by reducing it you can indeed get better tone, better legato, and better articulation. Single lip players who don't have lower jaw interference can of course achieve those things as well.

Here is a useful opinion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZUOfN-wQEY

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-11-23 20:51

As KDK says, upper notes flat can also be helped by more upper pressure from the right thumb, especially the C above the staff, since your left thumb is pushing the clarinet away from you.
Opperman said, at 1st, never more than 5 minutes at a time without a bit of a rest.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: Ed 
Date:   2019-11-23 22:12

You may find this interesting--

http://clarinet-central.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/McLaneEmbouchureArticle.jpg

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-11-23 22:16

Philip Caron wrote:

> Reduction of biting or unwanted lower jaw force is one of the
> common benefits of switching to double lip.
> Single lip players who don't have lower jaw interference can
> of course achieve those things as well.
>
> Here is a useful opinion:
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZUOfN-wQEY

I've seen a couple of other videos in which Ricardo says he thinks double lip is superior but has always been too busy playing to make the switch himself.

Anthony Gigliotti also commented to at least one interviewer in much the same vein. It was Gigliotti who recommended that I try double lip to solve some articulation problems I had developed that he suspected, rightly as it turned out, were caused by pinching the reed. He meant it as a short term embouchure re-set. I never went back.

He did recommend often, as apparently Bonade did and as Morales mentions in this video, that you could mimic the effect of double lip and gain most of its benefits by curling your upper lip back against your teeth without actually covering the teeth on top. Whether or not that was a Bonade-Curtis Institute thing, I don't know. Morales is not of that lineage, so I suspect it was a more widely followed approach.

It's come up often here that there are many well-known and respected players both past and present who play and recommend double lip. I was a little shocked a year or so back when one of the students I mentioned was severely scolded by a band director at her school (a trumpet player) during a rehearsal for playing double lip, the teacher pronouncing that my student would never play well that way.

Karl

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: hans 
Date:   2019-11-24 01:02
Attachment:  Excerpt from Artie Shaw Clarinet Method.jpg (1203k)

FWIW....I played double lip for the first 45 years, switched to single lip for the last 15, and don't find it particularly difficult to revert to double lip if I want to.

Artie Shaw, who was a pretty good clarinet player, commented on embouchure in the attached excerpt from his Clarinet Method book.

Hans

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2019-11-24 01:23

Hi hans. The Shaw excerpt makes no mention of double lip embouchure. It's undoubtedly aimed at beginners starting with single lip. OP is already familiar with single lip and asked about double.

Shaw's description of articulation is liable to confuse beginners into using a bad technique: "The tongue is held so that when attacking a note, the tip of the tongue will touch the tip of the reed. Thus a clean attack is accomplished in two ways. (1) The tongue simultaneously stops the flow of air into the opening between the reed and mouthpiece. (2) It stops the vibration of the reed by touching its tip." - All respect to Artie Shaw notwithstanding.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-11-24 12:57

This is great, thank you for all of the discussion.

I just did a bunch of experiments and my flat high notes come right again if I switch to a Vandoren 56 2.5 reed, and then I need to concentrate a bit harder to cross the break legato. The top notes are really flat if I use a synthetic bravo reed, but then break crossing is easy.

I'm trying different reeds because I have actually run out of my usual two kinds which are Rigotti Gold and Vandoren V12, but the Vandoren 56 does seem to work really nicely on the high notes.

KDK - I also find it weird going back to single lip, but I think it may be because I played the recorder for years as a child. I'm not sure but the business of sticking my front teeth out at the top feels weird to me.

Oddly I'm finding that articulation is much much easier on double lip than on single lip, where I never really have been able to do it at all.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-11-24 14:17

Sunny: I've always played double-lip, but a friend of mine-a very famous British jazz and Classical player is converting to double-lip at the age of 85! Here's a little exercise for you to do to develop your embouchure away from the clarinet: stick the mouthpiece in your mouth-reed and all-and try to hold it, using double-lip, more or less straight for about a minute or so. It develops your embouchure muscles and a sense of balance your embouchure requires. Try doing this a few times a day. I feel there are no drawbacks to double-lip embouchure and would contradict those usually put forward (e.g. you tire more easily, can't play standing, etc.: myths!)

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2019-11-24 15:56

>> I feel there are no drawbacks to double-lip embouchure and would contradict those usually put forward (e.g. you tire more easily, can't play standing, etc.: myths!) >>

You forgot the one about the people who have short upper lips, or long upper teeth, for whom DL is counterproductive.

Perhaps they just need to suffer more.

Tony

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-11-24 18:02

Hi Ruben,

Thanks, that sounds like a great exercise. I'll start doing that.

I just checked and I'm okay playing standing up because I have a claritie sling which means I can play my clarinet single-lip without holding it in my hands at all. When I play double lip I keep the sling but add a Kooiman thumb rest which makes for very stable playing indeed. The strap for the sling is not a neck on but one that goes over both shoulders.

This is the claritie sling:
https://www.reeds-direct.co.uk/clarinet-support-to-suppliment-the-use-o.html

Using the 56 reed is really helping with keeping in tune on my top note (C6).

I feel much more confident about the longevity of my playing now that I don't need to worry about losing my teeth. LOL!

Ta!

Jen

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-11-24 19:42

You are absolutely right: I did forget thin upper lips. I also forgot to mention that most of the clarinetists whose tone we admire play single-lip, so I certainly wouldn't claim double-lip is the only road to salvation. Still, I like the feeling of "oneness" with the instrument it instills (among other qualities). I would compare it to playing the violin without a chinrest.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-11-24 19:45

PS: I would advise people that suffer playing double-lip to keep a stiff upper lip!

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: hans 
Date:   2019-11-24 19:52

FWIW - Attached is an excerpt from Benny Goodman's book. He seems to prescribe double lip.

Hans

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: hans 
Date:   2019-11-24 19:53
Attachment:  from Benny Goodman Clarinet Method.jpg (319k)

Attachment failed - trying again....

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-11-24 20:17

Thanks for that Hans. I lot of the books that people recommend on here are not available in the UK, so it's great to have a link like this.

Fortunately I seem to have a long enough upper lip. :-)

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-11-24 21:35

hans wrote:

> FWIW - Attached is an excerpt from Benny Goodman's book. He
> seems to prescribe double lip.
>

I'm not sure. I think his whole description is more than a little unclear. I can almost picture putting the lips around the ligature (about half the mouthpiece), which is obviously not what he meant. Pressing the upper lip downward sounds like the French(?) approach that Bonade prescribes except that it goes a step farther in pressing down hard enough to lift the teeth off the mouthpiece beak. He doesn't suggest drawing the upper lip to cover the teeth, as he explicitly prescribes for the lower lip, making it sound as though he means to use the upper lip with no foundation or support on top.

Sounds tiring to me, but if a player can do it, it might be an ideal arrangement. If that's what he meant to say.

Karl

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: Paul Globus 
Date:   2019-11-25 03:05

Tony Pay is right. DL is not a panacea.The shape and size of one's lips and teeth is a big factor in whether DL is the best embouchure for you or counter productive. So is the dental occlusion.

I have always played DL but have never believed it was inherently superior to SL. Indeed, I can play SL too and it seems to me I use exactly the same mechanics (jaw pressure, lip flexing, points of contact with the reed, etc.) irrespective of which embouchure I employ.

Paul Globus



Post Edited (2019-11-25 03:10)

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-11-25 18:11

Hi Paul,

I see what you mean. I have just been trying DL and SL and I realised that part of the reason why DL is better for me is that I have to hold the instrument much further out from my body in order for my upper lip to reach down and under my front teeth and still reach the mouthpiece. If I play SL with the clarinet held out at that same angle, I retain many of the benefits of the DL embouchure. That's very handy to have figured out. :-)

Normally I hold it SL quite close to me like Emma Johnson in this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjX4FCnvYuY

But with DL I am holding it much further out like Artie Shaw in this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LN9xULQH2qM

Maybe I should be training my back muscles to hold the clarinet up high rather than my upper lip muscles? Or maybe the angle doesn't matter and it's just that the different angle forces me to do whatever it is that I ought to be doing when the clarinet is held closer to my body?

I'll keep experimenting.

Jen

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-11-25 18:25

Well that's weird. I can now cross the break legato holding the instrument lower down too. Maybe it's like learning to ride a bike and once I've go the knack of it, it just works.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-11-25 21:22

I don't think, once you're comfortable with DL that the angle will make much difference. I like to play with the instrument quite close - with a ligature like a VD Optimum with a fairly large screw mechanism on top of the reed, I play a lot of the time with the screw box actually touching my chin. That's a different dimension that I think has more to do with dental structure than SL/DL.

Karl

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-11-25 22:08

That's good, because it is very heavy sticking right out front. :-)

I've just been fooling around a bit more, and I figured out how to go up a 12th without using the register key. I think I then managed to play A6 which is really very high sounding indeed.

I also had a competition with my son to see who can make the weirdest noise between his double horn and my clarinet, and they really can make some very strange noises indeed, when pushed hard.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2019-11-25 22:37

Jen, it's not a question of finding any one solution to the combination of variables, and discovering that that will definitively give you the result you want.

Rather, you're looking for a sensible combination that will allow you to learn, gradually and probably mostly outside your awareness, how to play music. It will take time.

I offered you this as a description of the process; and this in the 'Keepers' section, about Carmine Campione's take on the matter, also linked there, might interest you too.

Tony



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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-11-26 01:23

Hi Tony,

I just read the keepers thread most of the way down and it makes a lot of sense in the context of what I'm doing. I've been experimenting with DL for a few days, but now my upper lip hurts and I'm back on SL, which is working much much better than before. I think the symmetry of the two lips that you mention does guide the lower lip with me, and the benefit of that is definitely a thing that I see in my own playing.

Another thing that occurs strongly to me while I'm doing this:

When I'm experimenting with playing DL, it helps immensely to know that I can do that and talk about it with the explicit approval of the community, and that SL is also approved of if I switch back. I find that it opens up lots of scope for experimentation, which really helps my playing to develop and improve rapidly.

My husband says that in any kind of teamwork one of the factors that accurately predicts success is a quality called psychological safety, which means that people in the team feel safe to do stuff, experiment, and ask questions, and know that they won't be criticised. I think the fact that both SL and DL playing draw strong approval from this community provides a lot of psychological safety for players to experiment and find whatever embouchure works for their own anatomical make-up. I think that is probably very healthy, and brings out the best in people. Just a thought anyway.

Thanks for the links. I'll read the other next.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2020-01-26 16:45

I just found another really good technique to learn how not to clamp the reed too hard, which is working for me in exactly the same way as double lipping works to improve my single lip technique.

I'm practising a lot with a plastic reed on a plastic clarinet. When I play difficult passages, quite often if I clamp too hard, the reed sticks fast to the opening of the clarinet and can't unstick when I release my grip. It means that the tip of the instrument is entirely air tight, and then the sound stops for a while until the reed tip pops off again.

I figured out that the answer to this is to clamp less and use my air to control the vibration of the reed instead of clamping with my lower teeth, but it's an incredibly persuasive feedback mechanism for disciplining me not to bite.

The reed is a Bravo 2.5 on a J&D Hite E mp.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: TomS 
Date:   2020-01-28 11:20

A "cupped" embouchure as Robert Marcellus used will open the oral cavity up and usually place the tongue in a position for better voicing, IMHO, very similar to double lip torture. The story goes that Mr. Marcellus discovered the value of this when he tried to stabilize the movement of his new upper dentures.

The upper lip should apply significant pressure to the MP beak, sharing the work with the upper teeth.

The old Band Directors were always telling the clarinet section to "flatten the chin" ... but with no idea how or why ... it was just something they heard during their semester in college when they were forced to play the clarinet. The "flattening of the chin" occurs naturally when this upper lip is properly configured. It's an external sign of an (open to discussion) good embouchure.

I'd try this before going to the pain of a double lip embouchure.

Tom

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: ACCA 
Date:   2020-01-28 13:30

I've got a 10 year old student who started doing double lip on his own, kind of naturally and by default.

I asked him to try putting his teeth on the mouthpiece patch and play that way, with a classical single lip embouchure.

after a session where I made him switch back and forth a few times, critiquing his sound and embouchure, I've decided to let him stay with double lip which he says he prefers.

Never encountered this in such a new student- I started teaching him on 1 October- and I hope he doesn't pick up bad habits as a result. but at least he shouldn't bite! My only hesitation is that without much experience with double lip myself it's harder to give input on adjustments/ improvements to lip/tongue position etc. Still I'm inclined to let him stay with what seems to be working well so far, he is a bright & keen student and practices hard and his sound is developing well.



Post Edited (2020-01-30 19:14)

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2020-01-28 18:17

ACCA wrote:

I made him switch back and forth a few
> times, critiquing his sound and embouchure, I've decided to let
> him stay with single lip which he says he prefers.
>
> Never encountered this in such a new student- I started
> teaching him on 1 October-

I have two students who both played double lip when I began to teach them. I'd never had this happen before in over 50 years of teaching. The first student began as a 3rd grader and I did make an attempt to have her try single lip for a week or two. She resisted, and since I play double lip, I didn't have much ground from which to argue for single. She has since, 4 years later, developed a very nicely formed, controlled, responsive embouchure. The other student is a high school student who began lessons with me last year and was already very firmly established in her double lip approach, so trying to change her wasn't really a useful option. Again, she gets a very free, full sound.

I won't say that either wouldn't play just as well single lipped. But I find it interesting that in each case, they found double lip on their own.

> My only
> hesitation is that without much experience with double lip
> myself it's harder to give input on adjustments/ improvements
> to lip/tongue position etc. Still I'm inclined to let him stay
> with what seems to be working well so far...

I'm confused. You wrote "I've decided to let him stay with single lip which he says he prefers," but this sounds like he's playing double lip.

Karl

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2020-01-28 18:24

TomS wrote:

> The old Band Directors were always telling the clarinet section
> to "flatten the chin" ... but with no idea how or why ... it
> was just something they heard during their semester in college
> when they were forced to play the clarinet. The "flattening of
> the chin" occurs naturally when this upper lip is properly
> configured. It's an external sign of an (open to discussion)
> good embouchure.

This is exactly why I've never obsessed over what my chin looks like or whether or not my students' chins are flat. If there's a problem that interferes with tone production, I think its up higher than the chin. If the lips and mouth are supporting a free and responsive production, the chin will probably be fine and is in any case irrelevant.

Karl

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2020-01-28 18:26

>> My only hesitation is that without much experience with double lip myself it's harder to give input on....

ABBA - Maybe you should work on double-lip. Just a few minutes at a time.
Kal Opperman always said, "Play until only just before it is going to start to hurt, then give it a rest."

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2020-01-28 19:10

I'm definitely finding that just a little bit of double lip once in a while is a good idea. I can't manage it all the time but it really gives me a lot of information on how I could improve my single lip embouchure.

When I first tried the clarinet my natural inclination was the double lip embouchure, just based on the way I was taught to play recorder, so I can completely understand these young students starting this way. The single lip way still seems un-natural to me, and I always sort of smile to myself and think "funny chipmunk teeth" when I start playing. The double lip embouchure does hurt a lot though, so I'm still playing with the chipmunk teeth approach. :-)

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2020-01-28 19:36

SunnyDaze wrote:

> The double
> lip embouchure does hurt a lot though, so I'm still playing
> with the chipmunk teeth approach. :-)

It really doesn't after a fairly short while.

I imagine it's not a painful experience for young beginners, because they don't practice (if at all) for long stretches of time. Adults trying to make a switch have to balance time with double lip with the total time they want to be able to practice. You can gradually increase the double lip time until the single is no longer needed. The point, as Ken suggests, is that you shouldn't push into the pain stage.

I confess even after decades of double lip I often rest the clarinet on my knee for stability, especially for support when I'm playing over the break. I can play standing up and even in some ways prefer it, but not for the length of a sonata or concerto.

Karl

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2020-01-28 21:17

When I switched to double lip, it took about a year for my upper lip to finally callus enough so I could play 2+ hours without it hurting. I persisted because that embouchure feels more natural to me, and the benefits to my playing were manifest.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: Ed 
Date:   2020-01-29 00:16

One of the key things is that single lip can often be somewhat more forgiving for those players who tend to bite down. That is where double can be difficult and cause pain. It is probably best to use reeds/set ups that are very responsive and that do not require you to bear down with a lot of jaw pressure. You should be able to manage the reed with the air and musculature of the lips and not so much jaw.

It is sort of a Ron Popeil approach (for those fans of Ronco and the old infomercials)- "set it and forget it."

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: ACCA 
Date:   2020-01-30 19:16

Karl wrote:

>I'm confused. You wrote "I've decided to let him stay with single lip which he >says he prefers," but this sounds like he's playing double lip.

I stand corrected and have edited my post above. apologies for the confusion. He is continuing with double lip which is his preference. I try it myself occasionally but mostly play single lip!

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: MKilpatrick 
Date:   2020-02-02 03:47

It's interesting to read this thread and in particular see discussion of the double-lipped embouchure mostly in terms of the upper lip curling over the upper teeth as with an oboeist, as shown by Mr Morales. Artie Shaw wasn't doing that from what I can see in the video clip that was shown. He does, however, say in the text shown in one of the postings above that the upper teeth rest "lightly" on the mouthpiece, which suggests that the pressure is shared between the teeth and lip.

Benny Goodman's extract (see above also) clearly states that the lip is "pressed downwards to prevent contact between upper teeth and mouthpiece". This pressing down is completely different from curling over.

Saxophonists such as Johnny Hodges clearly don't put either upper or lower lips over the teeth - the entire embouchure is very forward and there is very little mouthpiece in the mouth. The upper lip certainly curls as he forms the embouchure but is still forward of the teeth. No flat chin either. And just look, particularly at the second clip "Passion Flower" at the extent of the musculature that move each time he relaxes and then re-forms the embouchure!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SloECAON99c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGZDRQUSMmE


I'm not clarinetist, I'm a baritone saxophonist who plays the clarinet for a couple of pieces in my band. I've tried double-lipped on the clarinet only briefly but it is too unstable and it's clear I would have to work on this considerably to make it vaguely workable. However, on the baritone saxophone it is extremely easy for me to vary the amount of work done by the teeth and upper to both extremes, dynamically whilst practising. I am considering practising more with double-lipped embouchure to see how it develops, and the idea of using it for a few minutes during a practice session as suggested above, seems an excellent one.

Perhaps eventually I might produce a half-decent sound on the clarinet too! One day...

Michael

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: ruben 
Date:   2020-02-02 11:10

patrick: I found your description of Johnny Hodges' embouchure really interesting. I knew Johnny Hodges personally quite well and asked him about his embouchure, but he was never able to put it in words. It doesn't seem to be something he ever put much thought into: that he just did instinctively to produce the magical sound he produced. I shouldn't think this would work on the clarinet though. The latter requires more pressure.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: ruben 
Date:   2020-02-02 13:58

Michael: If I have understood correctly, you are saying Johnny Hodges didn't actually cap his teeth with his lips: just thrust his lips forward. As I said, he wasn't able to put into words what he did, when I asked him...or wasn't interested in actually analyzing what he had always done instinctively. Whatever works... Thank you for your post.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: ruben 
Date:   2020-02-03 00:46

Michael: I tried the Johnny Hodges embouchure on the clarinet this afternoon during my practice session. It doesn't really work because there isn't enough pressure on the reed and the tone is wobbly. I'm sure it would work wonderfully on a saxophone or bassoon though.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2020-02-03 01:16

I was told years ago by a clarinetist who studied with Herb Blayman that Blayman used and taught an embouchure approach that sounds very much like Michael's description of what Hodges was doing. I wonder if there are any of Blayman's students here who would write about that. If true, then the embouchure certainly works on a clarinet.

In the end, there are many ways to play the clarinet and "It doesn't really work" on clarinet is a dangerous thing to suggest.

Karl

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: Ed 
Date:   2020-02-03 02:12

A good friend of mine was a student of Blayman's. In fact, over the years I knew a handful of people who studied with him. I never heard mention of him teaching any type of alternate embouchure. I'll have to check with my friend.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: MKilpatrick 
Date:   2020-02-03 22:29

Ruben, just to clarify: in your reply to me you said "Hodges...just thrust his lips forward".

What I said was "downwards", not forwards, and downwards is distinct from "curling over the teeth". I think "forward" suggests a pout and that certainly won't work for either clarinet or sax?

Perhaps my use of the phrase "the embouchure was very forward" was rather misleading. And to be honest it's not always easy to judge how much lower lip a player has curled over the lower teeth either.

People have said that Harry Carney (baritone sax) played double-lipped too. Any photograph of Carney makes it obvious that the upper lip is not curled over the upper teeth but it is never obvious whether the downwards pressure from the upper lip is such that the upper teeth are not in contact with the mouthpiece.

I've also tried looking at the embouchure's of Duke Ellington's musicians on clarinet (Carney, Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope) although you really can't see much from poor-quality films such as this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDVZdZMCc0w

I've also tried working out how much lower lip-curling Russell Procope does -see a couple of minutes into this clip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v-0P5bpg54



Michael

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: ruben 
Date:   2020-02-03 23:51

Michael: ultimately, it means double-lip without capping your teeth. The rest rather adjusts automatically. All of the people you mentioned, I knew personally! Jimmy Hamilton's embouchure was pretty classic single-lip. He studied with Russianoff and played good Classic clarinet. Since reading your post, I have been experimenting with a "Johnny Hodges embouchure" (I play double-lip anyway). I can get a half-way decent sound, but there isn't pressure on the reed so there is a definite flabbiness. It's an excellent exercise though. Many thanks for your fascinating insights and analyses. Plus your mention of the Ellingtonians brings back fond memories of my teens.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: ruben 
Date:   2020-02-04 00:07

ps: What you have going here is a different version of double-lip embouchure! The only person I've known that advocated it was a great bassoonist I played with; unfortunately rather recently deceased. As for Harry Carney, he also drew a miraculous sound from the bass clarinet. The man was also the world's nicest person; a veritable saint.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2020-02-04 14:43

I've been keeping experimenting here and is seems at the moment as if I get a good half-way house by doing single-lip and pulling the corners of my mouth in really strongly. It means I get the good cushioning of the reed, good resonance and no biting and I don't need to curl my upper lip under. I'm getting a good result with crossing the break legato doing that too, which is what I need for my grade 3 exam which is coming along soon.

Is it possible that that is the place I should be aiming for?

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: MKilpatrick 
Date:   2020-02-04 15:13

I'm definitely not in a position to suggest what you should be aiming for! I'm a rather poor clarinetist.

All I can say is that a couple of days of more solid practice have made quite a difference to my clarinet playing and I'm working on being able to swap between clarinet and baritone sax with ease and without any disruption to my Carney-esque sound and embouchure. (I play on a close Woodwind Co vintage mouthpiece and with hard reeds) . Many years ago, when finding the right mouthpiece, I changed my embouchure to have as little lower lip over the teeth as possible and I try to maximise upper lip pressure and minimise tooth pressure. I have fairly full lips which may or may not make a substantial difference to what sort of embouchures are possible. I really don't know.

My clarinet is a Conn 446N and for whatever reason, I appear to be able to make a sound that has that more traditional, woody New Orleans sound rather than a classical tone - and that's a good thing from my point of view. That means I can be both Carney and Procope.

Michael

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2020-02-09 07:25

Re: Pulling the corners of your mouth in: I like the visual of thinking of the corners of your mouth being like a rubber band. In other words, at least as I understand that teaching, think of the corners being able to snug up but still remain flexible.

No death grip on the mouthpiece or the reed!

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2020-03-05 18:00

Hi,

I just figured out another thing, and I wondered if I could ask for thoughts on it?

I am rubbish at tonguing with single lip embouchure, but with double lip it just seems to work automatically. I mentioned to my teacher, and thinking about it, we realised that it is because I hold my head at a completely different angle relative to the clarinet when using double lip, because I have to lower my head to get my lip to reach under my top teeth. The different angle means that the tip of my tongue naturally coincides with the tip of the reed in double lip, whereas in single lip, the tip of my tongue sits nearly 1cm down the reed, and so I tongue the whole top cm of the reed.

My teacher suggested that I should try doing double lip and then just slip my upper lip out from under my upper teeth to be doing single lip, but otherwise keep everything the same, and I found that my good tonguing stays if I do that.

However, the knock-on effect of that new scheme is that when I lift my head up to comfortable angle when playing standing up, the clarinet sticks out much further in front.

I have attached two photos so you can see the angle.

I just wondered which you think is the better or more normal angle? The tone and projection is wonderful if I hold the instrument out like that, but it is also very heavy on my back, which might not be good. Also the angle of my fingers changes radically on the keys so I would have to rework all of that.

I'd be really glad to know what you think.

Best wishes,

Jen

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2020-03-05 18:09
Attachment:  close.jpg (554k)

Here is one image.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2020-03-05 18:09

and here is the other.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2020-03-05 18:10
Attachment:  far.jpg (491k)

trying again with the second.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2020-03-05 18:18

I just checked again and when I hold it out like that, I feel as though I am doing single lip, but in fact my top teeth don't touch the mp, so I am really doing double lip without having curl my top lip under my teeth. I am just gripping the mp with my top lip. That is why I am getting the great sound. I don't have any of the stability problems that I normally get with double lip, except that the clarinet is rather heavy to hold.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: Erez Katz 
Date:   2020-03-05 18:52

Pereira3d.com offers a curved barrel, and Bhen offers a curved mouthpiece, both could be options for relieving the stress on your back due to the new angle. But you might want to consider working with a trainer or a physical therapist on strengthening the relevant back and arm muscles. When I started playing the bass clarinet, my muscles in the back of my next were sore in the first week before they got stronger.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2020-03-05 18:58

Hi Erez,

The curved barrel and mp sound like a fantastic idea actually. I suspect my back is not able to be reinforced very heavily, being as I'm sliding gracefully towards 50. Adjusting the clarinet would be very much easier.

Thanks!

Jen

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2020-03-05 19:35

Oh gosh. The mp is $780 and the barrel is only a tiny bit curved. Gosh.

https://www.clarinetmouthpiece.com/epic-clarinet-mouthpieces

https://www.pereira3d.com/product-page/new-tradition-imprima-series-barrels

That's a bit out of my price range. Possibly cheaper to buy a 3D printer and print one myself.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2020-03-05 21:13

So, the angle at which you hold the clarinet (at which the mouthpiece exits your mouth) is very much influenced by the vertical relationship between your upper and lower teeth. I've seen major players whose instruments are out almost at a right angle to the plane of their faces. I've seen other equally recognized players who keep the angle so sharp that the ligature presses against the chin. Which is more comfortable can depend on your dental alignment - underbite? overbite? slight? major?

At the bottom line, the result makes the decision for you. The goal is a stable embouchure that you can maintain throughout the clarinet's compass. What it looks like is really not central (or even necessarily important).

Not having any contact on top of the mouthpiece is atypical, but not in itself "wrong," either.The question is, can you play that way for extended time periods? The lack of any support that the mouthpiece beak can rest against just makes the demand for strong upper lip muscles greater. The main support shouldn't be from the upper teeth in any case. Your upper lip needs to be involved actively with or without the teeth to rest against.

Karl

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: Erez Katz 
Date:   2020-03-05 21:21

Hi Jen,
I would reach out to Ryan Pereira and ask if he could produce a barrel with a more pronounced angle.
Erez

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2020-03-05 22:22

Hi Karl, Thanks, yes that makes a great deal of sense. I'll think about that.

Eraz - Very good idea. I will do that.

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 Re: Converting to double lip embouchure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2020-03-05 22:27

I slightly wonder if it would be worth cutting a longer barrel in half rotating one of the parts 180 degrees and gluing them together with some adjustment to length and angle. Maybe that is a very complicated thing to get right though.

I have written to Ryan Pereira.

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