With school starting for many in the USA and elsewhere, I thought it might be a good time to post on clarinet embouchure. Most of the below was originally posted HERE — the original post also contains important acknowledgements, info on further study, etc.
NOTE: Many in the clarinet world use double lip embouchure, even with beginners. The embouchure below can be thought of as a “Single Lip Version of a Double Lip Embouchure.” I think the 5-C Embouchure features some of the best aspects of both the Double Lip and Single Lip embouchures.
ClarinetMike’s 5-C Clarinet 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. IMPORTANT: Upper lip also sits gently on top of mouthpiece and moves upwards toward top teeth with no downward pressure.
ClarinetMike says, “Try it!”