There are many points
of view regarding the embouchure. What follows below is probably
generally accepted as being true for most everyone. The student
needs to work with their individual teacher closely on this subject. Practicing in front of a mirror is very useful.
Look for some of the following things when watching your
The point where the
reed breaks away from the mouthpiece should contact the lip on
the line where the lip meets the chin.
The upper lip comes
down "flush" with the upper teeth on the mouthpiece. i.e., the
upper lip is never between the upper teeth and the mouthpiece.
To some extent, there
should be a slight "overbite," perhaps better described as a
firm, strong upper lip, securely out on the mouthpiece for high
notes as well as low notes.
Think about the
embouchure as a drawstring purse; the embouchure is like the
closing of this purse when the "strings" (below the chin) are
Try not to smile when
playing. When the lips are stretched, the muscles and
tissue around the lips are stretched and thin. This
results in a thin sound especially up high.
The lip muscles are
some of the weakest muscles in the body and must be directed
firmly around the mouthpiece, NOT away from it as when you
"smile." If you smile, you are working against yourself.
Never let the chin
bunch up; keep the bottom lip flat against the bottom teeth.
Sometimes it can be useful to think of "pointing" the chin.
Perhaps think of
slightly increasing the distance between the teeth.
Do not allow the
clarinet to be held too far out from the body.
It is important to realize that all of the above
factors lead to one basic point. That is, the lower lip, jaw
and teeth must not squeeze up against the reed in order that
the reed (the source of musical sound) be allowed to vibrate
freely and give a full resonant sound.
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