ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #15 Clarinet Embouchure, E-Tips for E-Lips 1

Reed and Emb

Clarinet Embouchure:
E-Tips for E-Lips
by Dr. Michael Dean

Introduction and E-Tip #1

[The following embouchure tips have been heavily influenced by the ideas of master single reed teacher Joe Allard. The reader is especially directed to Debra McKim’s important dissertation on Joe Allard and the little booklet accompanying the Joe Allard DVD.]

In a recent important article on teaching a master class, clarinet professor Kelly Burke stated that the problems students have in performing works are often related to either “a technical/mechanical aspect of playing related to a core concept,” or “an underdeveloped understanding of musical phrasing.” (The Clarinet, March 2009, p 40)

One of the most important core concepts is that of embouchure. Below are some embouchure tips that I have found helpful in improving my students and my own playing. Also, most of these tips work great on the saxophone, too.

E-Tip #1: Engage. “Keep Lower Teeth Engaged.”   Beneath the reed, keep the lower teeth right under the bottom lip – do not allow space between the lip and teeth.  Think “Reed, Lip, Teeth.”  You want to somewhat feel the reed through the lower lip with the bottom teeth. But, don’t push up too much. Think in terms of creating a good platform for the reed to vibrate upon. Keeping the lower teeth engaged allows for sensitive adjustments to the sound, as there is a close connection to the resonator (reed vibrating against the slot of the mouthpiece).

ClarinetMike says, “Watch for E-Tips #2-5 coming soon!”

About ClarinetMike

American clarinetist MICHAEL DEAN performs and teaches internationally and across the USA to consistent praise such as "world-class clarinetist and pedagogue," "consummate performer," "inspirational," "outstanding teacher," "super," "brilliant performer," and "one of the best clinicians I have ever seen." His career is headlined by appearances at Carnegie Hall, ClarinetFest, NACWPI, Eastman School of Music, and Royal Northern College of Music with recent recitals and master classes in Italy, Spain, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, and Texas. In July, he will return to Vipiteno, Italy as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence at Orfeo Music Festival 2018. He is featured on 5 commercial CD's and on New Media, such as YouTube. He is currently preparing another new clarinet CD, Postcards from Silver Lake. He's performed with the Southwest Symphony, Nevada Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Southeast Chamber Players, Red Mesa Trio, and Duo 35. He performed for 11 years with the Paducah Symphony. His articles appear in journals such as Southwestern Musician, WINDPLAYER, NACWPI Journal and The Bandmasters' Review. As "ClarinetMike," he writes for his widely-read ClarinetMike Blog, in 150 countries on 6 continents. He was recently a tenured Associate Professor of Clarinet for 11 years at Southeast Missouri State University. He returned to his native Texas in 2012 due to family concerns. He is a past president and former National Board officer of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI). Dr. Michael Dean studied clarinet performance at Texas Tech University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Texas at Austin and University of Texas at Arlington. His teachers include Robert Walzel, Phil Aaholm, Carol Jessup, Jess Youngblood, Bob Ackerman, and Pam Youngblood. His web page,, features video of his teaching and performing as well as information on his CD's and other publications. He is a BG France Performing Artist.
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4 Responses to ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #15 Clarinet Embouchure, E-Tips for E-Lips 1

  1. Pingback: ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #16 Clarinet Embouchure, E-Tips for E-Lips 2 | ClarinetMike Blog

  2. Pingback: ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #17 Clarinet Embouchure, E-Tips for E-Lips 3 | ClarinetMike Blog

  3. Pingback: “Clarinet Embouchure: E-Tips for E-Lips” Complete Article Now Available Online | ClarinetMike Blog

  4. Pingback: ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #11-20 | ClarinetMike Blog

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