ClarinetMike’s 5-C Clarinet Embouchure

Performing in Madrid, Spain Using My 5-C Clarinet Embouchure

ClarinetMike Performing in Madrid, Spain Using The 5-C Clarinet Embouchure

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:

1. Circumference
2. Corners to Cheekbones
3. Chin
4. Cover
5. Click

5-C Embouchure Details:

  1. Circumference: Lightly stretch bottom lip flat around lower teeth circumference.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”
  4. Cover: Put some bottom lip over bottom teeth – “Not too much, not too little, just right.”
  5. 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!”

About ClarinetMike

American Clarinetist Michael Dean “ClarinetMike” 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.” Dr. Dean’s career is headlined by appearances at Carnegie Hall, ClarinetFest, NACWPI, Royal Northern College of Music, and Eastman School of Music, with recent recitals and master classes in Italy, Spain, Canada, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas. He recently returned for a fourth summer to the beautiful Italian Alps of Vipiteno, Italy as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence at the international Orfeo Music Festival. He is featured on 6 commercial CD’s including his soon-to-be-released new CD, Postcards from Silver Lake. He is also prominent on New Media, such as YouTube. He was clarinetist with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra for 11 years and he’s also performed with the Southwest Symphony, Nevada Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Southeast Chamber Players, Red Mesa Trio, and Duo 35. He has given more than 500 master classes, clinics and performances at universities, conservatories, conferences, festivals, high schools, junior high schools, and a diverse array of venues. As “ClarinetMike,” he writes for his noted and widely-read ClarinetMike Blog – viewed in 150 countries on 6 continents, clarinetmike.wordpress.com. His blog is the #1 clarinet blog on the Internet according to Google Search and a recent ranking on Feedspot. His articles also appear in professional journals such as the Southwestern Musician, The Bandmasters’ Review, WINDPLAYER, and NACWPI Journal. He is a past president and former officer on the National Board of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI). After a successful 20 years of teaching clarinet at the university level, he relocated to his native Texas due to family concerns. He is currently an active clarinet and woodwind performer, teacher, clinician, blogger, and consultant based in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Michael Dean studied clarinet performance at Texas Tech University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Colorado at Boulder, and University of Texas at Arlington. His teachers include Robert Walzel, Phil Aaholm, Carol Jessup, Bob Ackerman, and Jess Youngblood. He is a BG France Performing Artist and his professional website is clarinetmike.com. Mike and his family live in Hurst, Texas. His family’s new Golden Retriever, Nimbus, is a relative of Andy.
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14 Responses to ClarinetMike’s 5-C Clarinet Embouchure

  1. Bonnie Isbey Sholl -- Clarinet Faculty of The Mannes College of Music - The New School University says:

    Hi ! Leon Russianoff used to tell us to “CHONK” the upper teeth against the top part of Mouthpiece (Tapping upper teeth against the top part of mouthpiece to secure less upper lip, sorta of like a marker or pathfinder) …….. like Bugs Bunny with a carrot. And, more Mouthpiece rests on the lower lip…………What Do You Think – ClarinetMike

    • ClarinetMike says:

      Hey! Great to hear from you! An excellent question. I will think about it and get back to you! best, Mike

    • ClarinetMike says:

      I’ll have to try it on Monday or as soon as I can. We are taking my son to GWU in DC to attend college and are leaving next Tuesday and things are CRAZY here! I will try it when I can and get back to you, best, mike

    • ClarinetMike says:

      OK, tried it finally and it had a positive effect on positioning my top teeth in an excellent way. However, I do worry that the long term of “CHONKING” would lead me or (especially) my students to bite. Will have to keep pondering.Thanks so much! Mike

  2. Tammy Peterson says:

    Hello! I am a high school clarinet student, and I have recently developed a problem with air leaks. When I re-learned my embouchure, the corners of my mouth would make a frowny face (but with a flat and pointed chin and no air leaks). Now when I try to lift the corners of my mouth, I get an air leak (usually on the left side), and no matter how hard I try, I cannot fix it. Is it possible that I’m raising the corners of my mouth too much? Thank you.

  3. Pingback: ClarinetMike’s “E-Tips for E-Lips” | ClarinetMike Blog

  4. ClarinetMike says:

    don’t raise corners too much, only a little smile

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  7. Pingback: ClarinetMike’s Clarinet Teacher Tips: “Single Lip Double Lip” Embouchure | ClarinetMike Blog

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