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 Overblowing
Author: GenEric 
Date:   2019-01-25 12:01

I'm having a bit more embouchure problems and it is apparent because my sound sounds shrill and some notes are flat (throat tones and left hand upper register). I've been told to take as much mouthpiece and to push the sides of my mouth. I generally ignored the negative consequences because I thought I would get used to them. However, the more I play, the more I realize that the "right" amount of mouthpiece I should be taking should be way less than normal in order to achieve a focused, dark sound on a closed mouthpiece. Also, when I push from the sides, my bottom lip becomes flabby and my left hand notes become flat. Any opinions?



Post Edited (2019-01-25 12:15)

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 Re: Overblowing
Author: GenEric 
Date:   2019-01-25 12:09

In the first page of the clarinet compendium, it says "the mouthpiece should be paid on the lower lip, at about an inch and a half from the tip of the reed.... upper teeth falling naturally at about half an inch from the tip of the mouthpiece."

Really! A whole inch and a half? This can't be right.... Any idea for a M13L?

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 Re: Overblowing
Author: michele zukovsky 
Date:   2019-01-25 12:21

do not play with so much mouthpiece in your mouth.
if you hold the clarinet with just your left hand, you will find the right angle and amount of mouthpiece needed.
sit down...then hold the clarinet between your legs---take your right hand away.
and it will be then, your right way to play---very naturally, after you pick up the clarinet with your left hand.
pick a good mouthpiece with a medium reed---like a 3.5 vandoren.
and a nice b40 lyre....

zukovsky@usc.edu

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 Re: Overblowing
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-01-25 13:16

GenEric wrote:

> ... I've been told to take as
> much mouthpiece and to push the sides of my mouth. I generally
> ignored the negative consequences because I thought I would get
> used to them. However, the more I play, the more I realize that
> the "right" amount of mouthpiece I should be taking should be
> way less than normal in order to achieve a focused, dark sound
> on a closed mouthpiece.

I've read that advice (to take as much mouthpiece as possible until it starts to squeak) more times than I can count. Whenever I've experimented with following it, the result has always been abysmal. Mostly, I think, because it really is possible to play, however badly but without squeaking, with too much reed in your mouth.

Try this experiment. Slide a piece of paper - as thin paper as you have on hand - between the reed and the facing down as far as it goes until it stops. The conventional wisdom is that your point of contact (where the lower teeth, covered by the lower lip, contact the reed) should be where the reed and mouthpiece separate. The paper will locate this fairly accurately for you (the separation happens slightly lower, but it's close enough to make the point). Put a piece of tape that is thick enough to feel with your lower lip (I've used electrical tape; "Duck" tape will work) across the reed so that its upper edge is where the paper stops. Take the paper out.

Now, put the mouthpiece in your mouth and form your embouchure at the upper edge of the tape. The tape won't interfere with playing. I have found **every time I've tried this** that the "separation point" I've marked with the tape is much less far down than I was trying to play with just the advice to push the mouthpiece in until the reed begins to squawk.

Keep in mind that most French mouthpieces (including most if not all of the Vandoren line) have curves that separate from the reed at about 16-19 mm from the tip - that's less that 3/4 of an inch. I'm not sure how Daniel Bonade came up with 1-1/2 inches - I think he just guessed. That might even include part of the ligature.

I haven't ever used Michele's way of finding the contact point (because this is the first time I've seen it) - perhaps it works better than just jamming the reed in farther until you lose control.

The point is that it is possible to control the reed (but only sort-of) short of squeaking farther down than the separation point.

Karl

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 Re: Overblowing
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-01-25 17:27

"when I push from the sides, my bottom lip becomes flabby"

A better way of thinking about this is "a round embouchure, as if you are whistling". I am not sure why your lower lip can be flabby this way.

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 Re: Overblowing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-01-25 17:54

My thought about the embouchure formation has to do with making the fleshy part of the lower lip thinner over the lower teeth. So you do what you need to do to make that happen. For me, that would be to draw the corners of the mouth (if you think of corners) BACK, and DOWN. In that way you are forming the lips AROUND the mouthpiece while still achieving a good thin pad of lower lip for the reed to sit on.



So Karl,



I find your tape and my "backing off slightly from the squawk point" one in the same. I saw the "squawk" idea here first from Tom Puwalski who stated that it was a way for him to switch from one mouthpiece to the other effortlessly and play them well.


Of course you CAN play much closer to the tip than closer to that fulcrum point but that is essentially damping more reed than necessary (less of a resonator) and you are effectively, dare I say "biting," because that posture causes the reed to bend closer to the closed position. Brad Behn gave me an eye opening bit of advice upon seeing me do that years ago and said, "why don't you use a more closed mouthpiece with a softer reed and start off that way rather than where you end up now [sic].


Just tryin' to pass on some advice that has been helpful for me.




Michelle Zukowsky,


That's the first I've seen that advice to get your natural playing angle. I will try that with a student tomorrow!



AND FINALLY:


I think we are skirting the issue of "shrillness." For me, there is ALWAYS a balancing act between the energy we put into the embouchure vs. the amount of air we use at any given time. I would suggest that a "shrill" or overly "reedy" sound would be caused by too much embouchure energy for the amount of air you use in the moment. So for any given note try to actively (consciously) push more air and use a little less "energy" in the embouchure and see what happens.





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



Post Edited (2019-01-25 18:18)

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 Re: Overblowing
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-01-25 19:55

Paul Aviles wrote:

> So Karl,
>
>
>
> I find your tape and my "backing off slightly from the squawk
> point" one in the same. I saw the "squawk" idea here first
> from Tom Puwalski who stated that it was a way for him to
> switch from one mouthpiece to the other effortlessly and play
> them well.
>
So, Paul, clarify for me - did you find the separation point with a feeler (the piece of paper or an actual feeler gauge like the standard one .0015")?

The result of setting an embouchure past that pivot point will depend somewhat on the reed and mouthpiece combination. They may be the same place for you, but when I take *literally* the advice to take as much reed as possible until control is lost, I find I've gotten a lot farther down the reed than that measured pivot point. Maybe it comes down to how we understand what we're looking for when we reach the ideal spot.

It sounds as though GenEric has been going beyond the ideal spot.

BTW, it's also true that for students who use (mistakenly, IMO) very hard reeds (or reeds that are just unbalanced and unresponsive) one way they can get around the response difficulty is to do exactly as you suggest - take less reed and press more on it. I've done this myself, as I suspect we all have at times, to get through a rehearsal or performance with a reed that seems to be getting stuffy. It isn't (IMO) a good way to play all the time, but varying the amount of reed taken in is one way to get around response issues that players might be better off learning early in their playing careers.

Karl

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 Re: Overblowing
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2019-01-25 21:45

I could not do better, or as well, as the advice above. However, every person is different, every mouthpiece is different, every reed is different, and nearly every clarinet is different. When someone suggests that you try something, that's an approximation, because you can't get inside their head to know exactly how what they're telling you to do feels. It's important to try variations of what you think they said if you continue to have problems, and with embouchure, mouthpieces and reeds, it's also important not to make too many changes in a single session, because after awhile of trying out new things, things can become confused and you can start to get apparent results that you might not be able to duplicate the next time you play.

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 Re: Overblowing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-01-25 22:58

Dear Karl,


I find the fulcrum as it pertains to actually playing, by taking the mouthpiece into my mouth. And just to clarify, I don't say that you control the uncontrollable, but rather that you need to know where that is by feel. For example, I have just gone to another Fobes mouthpiece (they are all WONDERFUL by the way) that is different only in that the facing is 3mm longer than the previous Fobes. Being really habituated to the "feel" of the 14mm facing, I have to poke up to the "squawk" more often in the last few days just to make sure I am playing the current 17mm mouthpiece to its full potential.


And NO, I would never recommend choking up on a harder reed. The solution in that scenario is to change to a softer reed, period.




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



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 Re: Overblowing
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2019-01-26 00:15

So which Fobes did you change to?

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 Re: Overblowing
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-01-26 01:00

Paul Aviles wrote:

> I find the fulcrum as it pertains to actually playing, by
> taking the mouthpiece into my mouth.

So, you don't consider the actual point of separation to be important.

>
> And NO, I would never recommend choking up on a harder reed.
> The solution in that scenario is to change to a softer reed,
> period.
>
I wasn't clear. You described the process: "Of course you CAN play much closer to the tip than closer to that fulcrum point but that is essentially damping more reed than necessary (less of a resonator) and you are effectively, dare I say 'biting,'...."

I know you weren't recommending this. My word "suggest" wasn't meant to mean "recommend." I should have said, "one way they can get around the response difficulty is to do exactly as you describe - take less reed and press more on it." I didn't read it as your recommendation. I apologize for the seeming mis-characterization. And I certainly don't recommend that, either, as a routine approach to embouchure.

Karl



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 Re: Overblowing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-01-26 02:05

Hey Karl,



Sorry, I didn't mean to come off as overbearing.


however



I do believe I am speaking of the actual point of separation. You can measure with German made tools as much as you like, but the reality of how that affects your playing is determined by WHAT happens at WHICH point in your mouth. Years ago I would draw lines on reeds and stuff like that but the your lower teeth (in conjunction with a variable lower lip thickness) will determine exactly where that break occurs........hence the squawk. Beyond that point of course is just noise because there is no control over how the reed vibrates past that point.


I suppose if it helps some folks get a visual on it first that's great. But there is no substitute for the actual experience of it.





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



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