ClarinetMike says, “I’m excited to share this embouchure. I’ve spent years working on it and think it can help you and your students.”
ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #25 ClarinetMike’s 5-C Embouchure
The embouchure below and previously published embouchure tips have been heavily influenced by the ideas of master single reed teacher Joe Allard. The following reflects years of refinements on an embouchure that was originally passed down to me from Joe Allard through one of his students, Bob Ackerman. (This embouchure can be used on all clarinets and saxophones.) NOTE: Some of the specific language used is from the Joe Allard Session Handout and other places– see below.*
ClarinetMike’s 5-C Embouchure
What produces the sound on the clarinet? Clarinet sound is produced by the reed vibrating against the slot in the mouthpiece activated by the air (see E-Tip #3). Unlike brass players, the clarinet embouchure is not the sound maker (resonator).
So, what is the purpose of clarinet embouchure? The purpose of clarinet embouchure is to provide a great environment (or “Happy Place”) for the reed to vibrate. My 5-C Embouchure below will help a clarinetist develop a good platform or “Happy Place” for the reed to vibrate.
5-C Embouchure Steps:
2. Corners to Cheekbones
5-C Embouchure Details:
- Circumference: Lightly stretch bottom lip flat around lower teeth circumference.
- Corners to Cheekbones: Use “Smile Muscles” (Zygomaticus major muscles) to stretch lightly upwards from mouth corners to cheekbones. These muscles are the ones used when smiling. This should also help flatten out the chin.
- Chin: Smooth out chin muscles, focusing the chin to a point. But, DO NOT hinge the jaw forward – use a normal face. NOTE: Steps 1 and 2 will likely flatten the chin just about right – this step could be called “Check Chin.”
- Cover: Put some bottom lip over bottom teeth – “Not too much, not too little, just right.”
- Click: Top teeth rest on mouthpiece. Think, “Click” (See E-Tip #4). Don’t bite down hard – think of top teeth “receiving” the mouthpiece. Upper lip also sits gently on top of mouthpiece and moves upwards toward top teeth with no downward pressure.
* For further study, the reader is directed to the following that influenced my thinking: ClarinetFest 2011 Joe Allard Session Handout, Debra McKim’s important dissertation on Joe Allard and the little booklet accompanying the Joe Allard DVD, Clarinet & Sax Principles: Techniques That Work. Also, a few ideas above likely came from others that memory does not recall; however, I do remember getting “Click” from Prof. Julie DeRoche at her TMEA clinic a number of years ago.