ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #17 Clarinet Embouchure, E-Tips for E-Lips 3

Clarinet Embouchure:Reed and Emb
E-Tips for E-Lips

by Dr. Michael Dean

E-Tip #3

[This is the third of five embouchure tips. The Introduction/Tip #1 can be found HERE and Tip #2 HERE.]

E-Tip #3: Eee’s. “Use ‘Eee’ Syllables.”  I’ve found it very helpful to voice these syllables in the specified ranges when playing in different registers on the clarinet:

“Tew” in low register (below Open G)  with a French pronunciation* (see video clip below)
“Tee” Open G up to second space C in the staff
“Dee” C# in the staff and higher

Notice in the above, that each syllable has a progressively higher “Air Position” than the next. By “Air Position” I am referring to how high the air goes through the mouth.  (I suggest trying this by whispering “Tew, Tee, and Dee” in succession. Notice that the air is higher on each one.) The basic idea of this tip is that the higher one plays on the clarinet, the higher the air should go through the mouth. To me, it is easier and more useful to think in terms of “Air Position” than “Tongue Position.”

These voicings help not only with embouchure, but also help out greatly with tonguing. It was a big breakthrough for me to finally realize that embouchure and articulation are very closely related.  [There is a video clip of me pronouncing and explaining these syllables available on my website. Go HERE and then click on the “Embouchure: Tongue Position = Air Position” video clip.]

Another important and useful syllable is “Hee.” It has a very high air position and works really great for me for voicing Super High G (fourth ledger line above the staff). However, it is not usable in the same way as the others because it is not good for tonguing. (In warm-ups, I’ll whisper “Hee” a few times to set the voicing and then play a Super High G with a “Dee” articulation.) “Hee” is also very useful pedagogically in explaining to a student about voicing and “Air Position.” (Have the student whisper “Tew” or “Tee” and then have them whisper “Hee.”)

The above syllables and ranges are what work for me. These will not necessarily work exactly the same for other clarinetists. What works for any one clarinetist depends on a variety of factors: embouchure, mouthpiece/ligature/reed, tip vs. anchor tongue, size of mouth/tongue, etc. (In fact, the ranges for the syllables changed a little when I changed mouthpieces a few years ago.) I encourage you to try different syllables in different registers and see what works for you and your students.

NOTE: “Voicings” such as those above are used to help with the position of the air, tongue, embouchure, mouth, etc. A clarinetist should be careful to not move the jaw the same amount s/he does when actually speaking these in normal conversation.

*On “Tew,” be sure to not drop the bottom teeth away from bottom lip (See Tip #1).

ClarinetMike says, “Whisper ‘Tew, Tee, Dee, Hee.'”

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 2017. 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, clarinetmike.wordpress.com-viewed 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, clarinetmike.com, 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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9 Responses to ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #17 Clarinet Embouchure, E-Tips for E-Lips 3

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