5 Steps to Great Clarinet Tone: The 5-C Clarinet Embouchure

ClarinetMike Performing in Austin, Texas Using The 5-C Clarinet Embouchure

ClarinetMike Performing in Austin, Texas Using The 5-C Clarinet Embouchure!

Hey! I just made a few small revisions to my 5-C Clarinet Embouchure (see below) that I put into my clinic handouts for some upcoming clarinet clinics. FYI, an Easy-To-Print-PDF of all my clarinet clinic handouts (including 5-C Embouchure) is available HERE. ClarinetMike says, “The 5-C Embouchure works GREAT for me and my students. Check it out! AND, print off the other handouts, too.”

[NOTE: I give permission to all readers of this ClarinetMike Blog to print, copy and distribute these handouts as desired. However, please remember they are copyrighted and must not be changed or altered in any way. Printing double-sided works great, fyi.]

5-C Clarinet Embouchure
Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
“Building Great Clarinetists”
BG France Performing Artist
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting
clarinetmiketexas@yahoo.com * 682-888-7639
clarinetmike.com * clarinetmike.wordpress.com

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).

What is the purpose of clarinet embouchure? The purpose of clarinet embouchure is to provide a great platform (or “Happy Place”) for the reed to vibrate. The 5-C embouchure below will help a clarinetist develop a great environment or “Happy Place” for the reed to vibrate.

The 5-C embouchure could be thought of as a single lip version of a double lip embouchure (aka “Single Lip-Double Lip).  5-C allows the reed to vibrate freely as in double lip embouchure. However, since 5-C is a single lip embouchure with top teeth on the mouthpiece, it avoids the problems of double lip: hard to do, hurts for some, lack of stability for marching/standing, etc.

5-C Embouchure Steps

1.  Circumference (or Circle)
2. Corners to Cheekbones
3. Chin
4. Cover
5. Click

5-C Embouchure Details:

  1. Circumference (or Circle): Lightly stretch bottom lip flat around lower teeth circumference (or circle).
  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 upward toward top teeth with no downward pressure.

NOTE: The embouchure above and embouchure tips elsewhere have been heavily influenced by the ideas of master single reed teacher Joe Allard.  (This embouchure can be used on all clarinets and saxophones.) See my blog post, ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #25 ClarinetMike’s 5-C Embouchure at my ClarinetMike Blog, for important acknowledgements, etc.

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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3 Responses to 5 Steps to Great Clarinet Tone: The 5-C Clarinet Embouchure

  1. Pingback: 5 MORE Steps to Great Clarinet Tone: The 5 E-Tips for E-Lips Clarinet Embouchure Tips! | ClarinetMike Blog

  2. Pingback: 7 Ways to Upgrade Your Clarinet Playing This Summer! | ClarinetMike Blog

  3. Pingback: ClarinetMike’s 7 Clarinet Tricks For New Clarinet Teachers! | ClarinetMike Blog

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