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Discussion Starter #1
I was trying to come up with an appropriate title for this post.
I know embouchure is discussed in many threads but bear with me for a few minutes.

I've been doubling on Clarinet since February 2007 and used it in an orchestra for a musical in April 2007.
I've played it a few times at community band and been complimented on my tone.

I recently had a discussion with a local wood winds teacher who has agreed to start me on some flute lessons tomorrow.
During our chat, I asked him about clarinet embouchure and what he demonstrated is not at all what I'm doing.
He explained it quite well and that's when I realized I'm using a sax embouchure on clarinet.

I always thought if I wasn't playing clarinet correctly it would sound terrible and I wouldn't be able to hit all the notes.
I guess this is not true since I can play low E to the altissimo G.
I haven't worked on going higher since I hadn't seen parts written above the G yet.

I've read the countless threads about how to do a clarinet embouchure but nothing on why it's done that way.
I'm trying to work on the real clarinet embouchure so I can conform with the norm.

So here are my questions:
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What difference will I notice with the correct embouchure?

If I sound good now, should I bother working on the correct embouchure?

Could this have something to do with my use of harder reeds and open mouthpieces on sax?


I'm also considering taking some clarinet lessons from the same teacher but for now I want to make sure I'm going in the right direction with the flute.

The flute seems (to me) like the sort of embouchure that must be done correctly from the beginning as I have been playing it for a couple months and don't like the tone I'm getting.
 

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If you've been complimented on your tone, my humble opinion is don't totrture yourself trying to get the "correct" clarinet embouchure. I use a saxophone embouchure on clarinet, with a wider tip opening and softer reeds than classical clarinetists would recommend.

BUT, most of what I do is jazz and blues, but I do sometimes play some more classical style e.g. for TV or film session work, and still have had no problems. If I had aspirations to be a symphony player I'd think otherwise, but I would say that mostly people will be very happy to have such a verstile saxophone player with doubling skills, especially once your flute is under way.

You are spot on - get the flute embouchure nailed, continue playing "saxophone doubler's clarinet" - getting too wound up and correct over that could have a bad effect on your saxophone embouchure IMO.

Good luck!
 

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In what way does a clarinet embouchure differ from a sax embouchure? Fundamental difference or just details? I only know the nuance between soprano and alto clarinet...
 

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I agree. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

(I don't change my embouchure that much for clarinet either--my problem isn't tone--it's technique)
 

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BobbyC - How's your pitch on the clarinet?

If it is good then maybe your sax embouchure is more clarinet-like than you realize. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Dr G said:
BobbyC - How's your pitch on the clarinet?

If it is good then maybe your sax embouchure is more clarinet-like than you realize. ;)
At first I was right on with the barrel and mouthpiece all the way on.

Lately I've been a bit sharp and have had to pull out the barrel/mouthpiece a wee bit.

tictactux said:
In what way does a clarinet embouchure differ from a sax embouchure? Fundamental difference or just details? I only know the nuance between soprano and alto clarinet...
His facial muscles had a marked difference from what I am doing.
He had the exact look of what has been described as a proper embouchure on these forums.


I find the sound of the clarinet mesmerizing and often just sit around playing through scale like routines just to listen to the dark resonant tone of the instrument. Not that I don't enjoy the powerful tone of the sax, of course.;)
 

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BobbyC said:
Lately I've been a bit sharp and have had to pull out the barrel/mouthpiece a wee bit.
This shows that you're working in the right direction. Working on a proper embouchure would be easier now than later, and you might find that it hinders you later (depending, of course, on how much and how seriously you play the clarinet.)
 

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BobbyC said:
His facial muscles had a marked difference from what I am doing.
He had the exact look of what has been described as a proper embouchure on these forums.
You mean the smile-and-pointy-chin thing and all? Apparently there are different schools of embouchuring, and I seem to have gone through one of the others...
 

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Richard Stolzman is certainly from a different school. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
littlemanbighorn said:
This shows that you're working in the right direction. Working on a proper embouchure would be easier now than later, and you might find that it hinders you later (depending, of course, on how much and how seriously you play the clarinet.)
That's my question: What will be hindered? What will be different?


tictactux said:
You mean the smile-and-pointy-chin thing and all?
YES! Exactly.
 

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I agree with Danarsenault about developing a good clarinet embouchure so one doesn't have to struggle to break bad habits down the road. I've been lucky in having had several good clarinet teachers who helped me to establish a solid foundation. It's my feeling that I've been able to have a better quality of sound on clarinet due to their guidance than if I just picked up the clarinet and tried to learn it on my own.

That said, I also take note of what Dr. G said about Richard Stolzman as a few months ago I started using a double-lip embouchure (as Stolzman did) and I am very impressed with it. It has made noticable differences in my sound.

One's clarinet embouchure is fundamental to having a beautiful sound that projects. Getting a sound that "rings" (which is a big factor in projecting one's clarinet sound) is in large measure a result of one's embouchure...including the right placement of the lower lip on the reed. Thus, embouchure is a big deal on the clarinet. Perhaps even more so than on saxophone.

Roger
 

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The correct embouchure is important for pitch and tonal control on clarinet. The further you go into clarinet, the more important it becomes. The main thing to remember is that incorrect embouchure will hinder your ability to play certain passages. It isn't just finger technique, it is a combination of air/embouchure/fingers and the head.

The clarinet and Sax are different animals, although related you need to be able to produce the sounds slightly differently. Flute is very different again. I would suggest that you work with a good technician style teacher and get the embouchure sorted out early. The right mpc/reed combo makes a huge difference on clarinet..........
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Maybe I'm not asking the right question.

Let's try this:

Is there a test I can do to tell when I have the correct embouchure?
Something that can't be done with an improper embouchure that would signal that one is indeed doing things the right way?

Something that leaves no doubt the difference between a sax embouchure and a real clarinet embouchure?

The flute seems easy to tell.
You either sound sweet and resonant or you don't.
 

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Well, if your tuning's stable from low E to G4 (which is what you said, i think) and you're getting a nice, full sound and a broad dynamic range, then i wouldn't get too hung up about whether you're using "correct embouchure". You're obviously doing something right!!
 

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If it works, do it, I guess. If I were your teacher, however, I would urge you to learn the "correct" embouchure. I played with a very incorrect embouchure for years and got by just fine. I got compliments on my tone and played mostly in tune (a little sharp). Then I got to college and the level of playing got higher. The demands for purity of tone and fluidity of movement (especially over the breaks and wide intervals) became exponentially greater. I found that I couldn't get by with my old embouchure past the first two weeks of school.

There are several different schools of "correct" embouchure. As far as I can tell, they all involve a pointed chin and the tongue arched high in the back of the mouth, but the specifics of the rest of the embouchure vary, depending on who you tak to. Some will say that the "smile" embouchure is the way to go. My teacher believes that the smile embouchure promotes thinness of tone, forcing the player to work harder in other areas to compensate. Of course, I've encountered many players who used the smile embouchure who sound far better than I. On the other hand, my teacher (Mark Brandenburg) has maybe the finest tone I've heard in person (and I've seen Stoltzman live twice and taken lessons from Luis Baez of the SF Symphony - both great players with great tones) and he uses the Bonade/Marcellus embouchure with the corners in. At that point, though, I think a good teacher can steer you the right way, whichever variation he decides to teach you.
 

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Clean articulation is another factor to consider as a test of whether your embouchure is "correct."

My teacher who studied with Joe Allard taught the only difference between sax and clarinet should be the degree of firmness in the lower lip over the teeth. He was a clarinet major at Julliard and an incredible sax player on S,A,T and B.

He was a firm believer in eliminating unnecessary tension and impediments to the airstream, which would include arching the tongue and pointing the chin (in other words, he taught NOT to do either...) So yes there are many opinions.
 

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The views on 'proper and correct' embouchure for clarinet are like navels and sphincters. Everybody's got one.
I introduce my students to everything from double lip to the classic 'clown face'. I encourage lots of experimentation and incorporate elements from each style to find what works best for them.
 

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Maybe not considering the difference of sound needs,,,

I think one thing being overlooked is the clarinet sound wanted for a musical, and the clarinet sound wanted for a symphony, or classical solo. The saxophone embouchure works well for clarinet in a musical because most musicals are used to having doublers, and maybe not getting the best classical sound. It also depends on what group was performing the musical. Was this a high school musical? A college musical? A broadway musical? They are all going to be desiring a different (and usually going from high school to broadway) and better clarinet embouchure and sound than the others. If you plan on continuing clarinet (and flute) learn to play them the correct way. We already have too many saxophone players out there not playing with good technique, let's not let the "disease" of bad technique spread to other instruments. We already have a hard enough time competing against pro clarinet players who are doublers, let's not make it harder on ourselves.
 

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Good point. Also musicals vary and the numbers within a musical vary in style. Some tunes and scene changes bits are intended to be very classical-sounding, but you may need to play a jazz solo with smears in some dances, etc.
 
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