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Author: Hillary 
Date:   1999-08-08 03:09

My band director wants me to frown instead of smile. He showed me a tight lipped frown and wants me to use it. My tutor on the other hand says I should smile. When I frown she wants to know where's my smile. Who's right. Please help. As always thanks for the information.

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 RE: Smile?
Author: angella 
Date:   1999-08-08 05:57

you should use an "inner smile" for sure. smile and feel what it feels l;ike on the inside. that's how you should feel like inside! for outside, a frown is definately now how i'd describe it- probably more of a smile. make sure the upper lip is pulled down from the nose, the chin is pointed down and the sides (important) are pulled in, like a draw string. this is so no air leaks out. you want the bottom lip to be a cushion and have (ideally) equal support from all sides, though there may be more pressure from the bottom, try not to bite. don't make a frown!
let us know how it goes.
also, check the clarinet magazine, the latest one, blue cover with the clairinet fest information on front-- there's an article about "the inner smile" --- anyone else have any tips?

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 RE: Smile?
Author: Daniel 
Date:   1999-08-08 06:07

The proper clarinet embouchure, as i have been tought, is more of an O-ring... not a upward or downward pull of the corners of my mouth. Think of sucking a straw in a cold thick milkshake. Cheeks high and firm chin.
The "smile" or "frown" embouchure is more applicable to flute (of which i was taught more of a "frown"; but not really).

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 RE: Smile?
Author: GKF 
Date:   1999-08-08 18:19

I think the concept of smiling or frowning comes from an over-simplification of the concept of a firm embouchure. It's all about wording. Sometimes, what one person sees as a frown, can be a smile to someone else!

The point is, however, to make sure that the lips are firm. One way I explain this to my students is that there should be NO WRINKLES in the lips. They should be pulled taught, and maybe have only a few wrinkles where they are pulled tight at the corners.

Good Luck!  :)


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 RE: Smile?
Author: angella 
Date:   1999-08-08 19:46

you do want the lips to be a cushion. really trying not to have "wrinkles" may encourage uneven pressure or biting. if someone were playing double lip, for example (both lips over the teeth, ouch!) you couldn't really try so hard to make the lips that tight, or you'd end up drilling teeth holes in your lips. i think the drawstring analogy is a good one. equal "pressure" if you will, from all sides. an o shape works, but i can't see how you'd make an o ring and also have totally taught lips. some method books have explanations on the embouchure- just so you could hear it another way. sometimes hearing the same thing or similiar but in another can make a difference.

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 RE: Smile?
Author: angella 
Date:   1999-08-08 20:19

here some ideas from various old method books

from "introducing the clarinet" james o froseth:
stretch the lower lip against the lower teeth and draw the chin muscles downward as if pronouncing a highly exaggerated "yes"

...seal the lips around the mouthpiece with a firm inward pucker. only a thin ribbon of lower lip should CUSHION the reed, and the chin muscles should be drawn downward.

from "enjoy playing the clarinet" by ruth bonetti
to find an embouchure that is natural and suited to your own physical make-up, think of the position of your mouth and jaw as you smile or drink through a straw. (notice the chin is down in this position)
with the top teeth on the mouthpiece, keep the chin firm.
smile, but don't let air escape.

from "the student clarinetist" by benjamin spieler:
the red part of the lower lip should rest flat against the lower teeth with a small lap over the teeth to CUSHION the reed. if you have difficulty with this, try pressing the lower lip against the teeth with two fingers and then SMILE slightly. think of your chin as being down, long and pointed. next wrap the lips around the mouthpiece and seal like a rubber band. in your mouth the reed should feel that it is resting gently on a cushion. do not bite.

from an unidentified photo copy:

rest your top teeth directly on the mouthpiece. close your mouth in a DRAWSTRING fashion with equal pressure on all sides of the reed. your chin should be flat and pointed.

these are just some ideas, but mostly they all say to keep the chin down, flat and make sure you keep the corners inward! like a drawstring so that no air escapes. the bottom lip is as a cushion, though that doesn't mean bunched up!

hope this helps.

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 RE: Smile?
Author: avelino 
Date:   1999-08-09 09:54

Hello, first, i'm not a good english, excuse me. I think that the best way to have a good mouth position is:
Try to do a high C# with only the mouthpiece (and the reed of course) If you are contracted, the C# is high, is necesary to relax the lips to do a nice and pitched C#. You can do the C# first in your claninet for hear it and after try to do it with only the moutpiece. It's hard but very usefull.Of course, when you find your mouth and lips correct position, you try to keep it always!!!.

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 RE: Smile?
Author: Clare 
Date:   1999-08-10 23:08

I was always told it was pretty much impossible to smile and play the clarinet at the same time. It sounds like your instructors are bombarding you with too much detail. Just do what feels right and you'll get the hang of it.

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