The idea of having students recite the alphabet, “ABC’s,” to help embouchure/voicing comes from my research into the amazing ideas of master single reed teacher, Joe Allard (see NOTE below). I’ve experimented with this idea on and off for a number of years. I’ve lately been using it a lot with my students and in my own practicing with much success. I’m still working on refining the ABC Exercise and welcome comments and suggestions.
ClarinetMike’s Clarinet Teacher Tips: ABC Exercise
What? The ABC Exercise (or just ABC) is simply saying the alphabet a few times in normal voice. This very simple exercise always helps my embouchure and voicing.
When? I use ABC early in my daily Practice Routine as part of working on my embouchure and voicing. I often do ABC after going through the steps of the Single Lip Double Lip Embouchure and before or during my work on voicings from E-Tips for E-Lips.
Why does ABC help? To be honest, I’m not 100% sure. I think what is going on is that saying the alphabet gets me “in touch with things” with respect to my mouth, lips, tongue, teeth, face, etc. in embouchure/voicing. For example, what do babies do when they learn to speak? They try to copy what they hear by experimenting with their voice using mouth, lips, tongue, teeth, face, etc. They start with “Dada” and end up smoothly using words to talk soft-touch Dad into buying them things….
A couple extra thoughts. Does this exercise work in other languages? I’ve tried it a little and I believe it does. Please give me feedback, non-English speaking readers! Will it work with a clarinet section speaking in unison? I haven’t tested it with a group – let me know!
ClarinetMike says, “Try it!”
NOTE: Saying the Alphabet is mentioned in The Joe Allard Project website which features part of Debra McKim’s important dissertation on Joe Allard (see HERE). The ABC Exercise above features my own ideas and thoughts on a technique that Joe Allard taught. As was true on my previously published Single Lip Double Lip embouchure and E-Tips for E-Lips embouchure tips, I happily acknowledge a heavy debt to the great Joe Allard.