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Embouchure

(positioning of the lips)

Dave playing Clarinet : Clarinet taught by ear

Getting the embouchure right is critical to playing a wind instrument whatever it is. The best way to learn is to experiment & try everything: but don't try for too long...

As you try things out listen carefully. By trial & error & a process of elimination you can often find your ideal embouchure without leaving your bedroom...
 

Things you can do to alter your embouchure for all wind instruments:

  • Pressure of air (how hard you blow – (shouldn’t be too hard to get a note)
  • Control of air (nice even pressure is best – take a deep breath or two first)
  • Position of lips on the mouthpiece
  • Pressure of lips / teeth, on mouthpiece
  • Position of tongue (keep out the way unless tonguing your instrument. It can feel uncomfortable)
 

Single reed Instruments (Clarinet / Sax)

  • How much mouthpiece to place in your mouth..... It’s a delicate balance. Too little & you’ll cut off the aperture by your lips pressure on end of the reed & stop the note.
Tenor Sax Player: Sax lessons,  Newburgh, Fife
Selection of Woodwind & Brass mouthpieces: Woodwind lessons, Newburgh, Fife

Too much & you’ll loose control over the reed & the note won't sound clean or in tune.

You need it to be able to use your bottom teeth through your bottom lip, to put pressure on the reed. You need to be able to adjust this pressure. As you do, you should notice the sound changing. Too much pressure will close the gap between the reed & mouthpiece & make it harder to blow. Too little & the note will waver uncontrollably & flatten.

As you go up the register, removing fingers from your instrument, you need to shorten the reed very slightly. Thus, your bottom lip / teeth, will slide up & down the reed to accommodate this.

 
  You will find a low note easier to hit if you have a little more mouthpiece in your mouth, or if you slide your bottom teeth (bottom lip sandwiched between it & the reed) down the reed.

 

 
  Selection of Brass Mouthpieces: Brass teacher / lessons, Newburgh, Fife
Brass
 
Dave playing Trumpet with Floozie Soo:  Trumpet lessons, Newburgh, Fife
In order to get a sound out of your Trombone, Trumpet, Tuba, or whatever, is to ‘buzz’ the mouthpiece. This is by vibrating your lips together with the tongue out of the way as if blowing a ‘raspberry’.
 

You can alter all of the things at the top of the page, but particular to brass, you can:

• Push the instrument into your face whilst tightening the lips for higher notes. You’ll be crushing your lips between mouthpiece & teeth.
• Roll your lips into & out of the ‘cup’ in the mouthpiece. They need to be further in for higher notes.

 
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Dave J Ford peering through  ice sculpture