The ABC Exercise comes from my research into the amazing pedagogy of master single reed teacher, Joe Allard. I’ve experimented with The ABC Exercise (or ABC) on and off for a number of years. Recently, I’ve been consistently using it in my own practicing and with my students with much success.
Improve Clarinet Tone: The ABC Exercise!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
What? The ABC Exercise is simply saying the alphabet aloud a few times in a normal voice and then playing the clarinet. 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 5-C Clarinet Embouchure and the related E-Tips for E-Lips clarinet embouchure tips.
Why? So, why does ABC improve my tone? 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 and 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 easily persuade soft-touch Dad to buy them things, “Hey Dad, I need $100 for …..”
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 5-C Clarinet Embouchure and E-Tips for E-Lips embouchure tips, I happily acknowledge a heavy debt to the great Joe Allard.
Extra: FYI, clarinet people, Joe Allard studied clarinet with Gaston Hamelin (Boston) for 4 years. Note that Hamelin’s famous student was Ralph McLane (Philadelphia) and McLane’s was Harold Wright (Boston). (All of these are famous for their great clarinet tone.)