The clarinet embouchure: It's all in the mouth
It’s all in the mouth: clarinet embouchure
One of the most important elements that any clarinetist needs to develop is their clarinet embouchure. Your embouchure critically affects the sound you produce when you play the clarinet, and will make the most important difference to your overall playing.
Embouchure refers to how the mouth is shaped when playing a brass or woodwind instrument. Therefore the embouchure is made up of the lip muscles and chin muscles, supported by the jaw and teeth. When playing the clarinet, the embouchure is important for both keeping air from escaping out the sides of the mouth, and controlling air pressure.
When playing a clarinet, the reed rests on the lower lip while the closed side of the clarinet mouthpiece is held in place by the upper teeth. The vibrations of the reed when air is blown across it send air through the body of the clarinet, causing the air column inside the clarinet to vibrate, which causes the sound.
Beginner clarinet players often have difficultly balancing the amount of pressure needed with their embouchure to hold the mouthpiece in their mouth correctly. Many student clarinet players will bite hard on the mouthpiece when they first start out, resulting in aching jaws and marks on the mouthpiece.
Your teacher should be able to help you with making sure your embouchure is not too firm or weak. If you are concerned about the shape of your embouchure, it helps to play your clarinet in front of a mirror, or just play your mouthpiece at first.
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