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Discussion Starter #1
So things are coming along on the clarinet. I took some time away to focus on prepping for an audition, and am getting back into it, working through the Rubank Elementary book. I'm up to the break, so that's fun.

Anyway, I've got one particular issue I wanted to run by everyone to see if they have some suggestions:

For the most part, my embouchure is doing all right. Weirdly enough, I haven't had nearly the problems with biting/tiring on the clarinet that I have on my alto...except for two notes: Open G and F2. I basically end up pushing the mouthpiece right into my upper teeth when I play those two notes (ESPECIALLY F, since I'm pressing up with my thumb to seal the hole, but without another finger covering one of the holes on top to push the horn back down). And, well, I play with more of a double lip embouchure, which means my upper teeth are cutting into my lip.

Any thoughts?
 

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Open G and F2. I basically end up pushing the mouthpiece right into my upper teeth when I play those two notes (ESPECIALLY F, since I'm pressing up with my thumb to seal the hole, but without another finger covering one of the holes on top to push the horn back down). And, well, I play with more of a double lip embouchure, which means my upper teeth are cutting into my lip.

Any thoughts?
Your awareness is the first step forward to solving the issue. Yay!

Try to determine just how hard you have to seal the thumb hole to get the note to play at the correct pitch. I’m betting it will work with a lot less pressure. You should only have to touch it.

Try it.

Then once you learn how little pressure to apply, you can relax when you play the horn. No death grip, please - same for all tone holes.
 

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It sounds like to me, that the angle that you're holding the clarinet could be adjusted. The Left Thumb should push forward ore than upward.

Also, listen to Dr. G, that would be my other suggestion.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It sounds like to me, that the angle that you're holding the clarinet could be adjusted. The Left Thumb should push forward ore than upward.

Also, listen to Dr. G, that would be my other suggestion.
It's possible I may be pointing the bell more forward (soprano habit). I'll make sure to check my posture next time I practice.
 

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... And, well, I play with more of a double lip embouchure, which means my upper teeth are cutting into my lip.

Any thoughts?
Why are you so hell-bent on making things really difficult for yourself?
Almost no amateur clarinet players play with a double lip embouchure.
(And the difficulties will increase as you play higher.)
 

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It is always a good idea to take a few lessons at first to establish good tone production habits. These include: the top teeth should rest on the top of the mouthpiece, the mouthpiece should be angled down about 45°, the head should be erect, the corners of the mouth should be firm creating a lower lip stretched thin and a flat chin. With the correct embouchure tightness, the mouthpiece + barrel should produce the note F# Concert or slightly higher on a shorter student model barrel. The G2 and F2 on the clarinet have a tendency to be slightly flat. Opening the bottom 2 side keys helps to bring the pitch of the G up. The throat A has a tendency to be sharp. Adding the fingers of the right hand can help to bring the pitch down. Also what Gordon said. :) good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The only two notes I have intonation problems with so far ( I've only learned the fingerings up to G3, and am only just at the part of learning how to transition across the break) are E1 and F1, both of which run flat. Intonation across the rest of the horn is pretty spot on. I only just switched to an instructor who doubles clarinet, and the last couple sessions he hasn't had his horn with him, so we haven't gotten much more in than looking at a few of the Rubank exercises I'm working on. However so far he says my tone is sounding good, so there doesn't seem to be any problems there.

And yes, I realize double lip is uncommon on clarinet (AND sax, for that matter) but it's what works for me, other than the G2/F2 issue in the OP.
 

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I am a good, but not great player, so feel free to discard this suggestion if you like. But since you are just starting on clarinet, why not start with the standard embouchure. Double lip can be done, but at this point of your development, why do it? I suggest you try the standard embouchure with your instructor. If after awhile, you don't like it, you can always go back to double lip at a later time.
 

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It's easy for beginners to start out of the gate with bad habits. Heck, my first teacher had me use a clarinet embochure on sax. That took a while for me to fix. Problem is when you say, "it works for me", then in the next breath also say, "... except notes X, Y, Z are out of tune" or "... my top lip hurts from biting too hard", guess what, it DOESN'T actually work for you.

Some very respected educators on the board will say, "if it works for you, then do it", which makes sense up to a point. Problem is, it doesn't actually work when you have issues like this and will surely encounter more when you get more advanced and try altissimo, etc. So at least start with tried and true methods that have worked for nearly everybody the past 170 odd years. And only if THAT doesn't work, start making changes.

Yes, very good players can make just about any embouchure work, but they are the exception, not the rule. Would you play guitar with only 3 fingers because Django did it (albeit amazingly well)? He had no choice, but you do. Now if you come back and say you've got sensitive teeth or some other dental or nerve issue, then by all means do whatever makes you most comfortable. Otherwise, there's no good reason to intentionally handicap your playing, especially at this stage.
 

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Top teeth on the mouthpiece.
Head up, flat chin, pulled corners. Bell should be somewhere between mid thigh and the knees.
Hands/fingers should resemble the letter 'C' when in playing position and be close to the tone holes/rings.
You should NOT push 'up' on the register key to the point of shoving the mouthpiece into the roof of the mouth. Practice rolling the thumb without lifting it off from the ring.
This is my advice for any beginning clarinet student. And yes, I am a clarinetist of 47 years and former private instructor.
 

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Top teeth on the mouthpiece.
Head up, flat chin, pulled corners. Bell should be somewhere between mid thigh and the knees.
Hands/fingers should resemble the letter 'C' when in playing position and be close to the tone holes/rings.
You should NOT push 'up' on the register key to the point of shoving the mouthpiece into the roof of the mouth. Practice rolling the thumb without lifting it off from the ring.
This is my advice for any beginning clarinet student. And yes, I am a clarinetist of 47 years and former private instructor.
I love it when you talk clarinet.

Thank you, Bandmommy. There are some things that just ring more true coming from a person that knows and teaches the clarinet as a primary instrument.

OP, if you won’t listen to anyone else, listen to Bandmommy. She’s the real deal.
 

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Thank you Dr G.
The embouchure is the most important part of playing clarinet. It's not only the foundation for good tone production, but also an 'anchor/stabilizing point' for the instrument. The right thumb under the rest can't do it all.
Once this foundation is established, the technical aspect becomes easier to perfect.
The hardest part of teaching is putting the subtleties that are second nature into words. At least words that the student can easily understand and implement. ☺
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The problem I have with a single-lip embouchure is because of crowding in my lower front teeth, the upper fronts have uneven wear, and my left tooth is slightly higher that the right (not significantly, but enough that it's definitely evident if I let the teeth rest on the mouthpiece; my bit ends up a bit uneven on top). While not sensitive, this also makes the vibration of the mouthpiece more uncomfortable. This is one reason (along with trying to put an end to my habit of biting/playing too tight) I switched to doing it on the sax.
 

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I also have crooked teeth and have played with only one tooth on the mouthpiece for 40 years. I would try a patch before resorting to a double lip embouchure. I think the vibration in my teeth/skull provides valuable feedback for tone production.
 

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Ambaryerno,

I'd also wonder what pitch you're getting on the mouthpiece by itself. You should be able to hit a C above the staff consistently without biting. Also, what's the pitch like on G-sharp, A and B-flat in the throat tones?

I'd also try a mouthpiece patch, and maybe even building up a second small patch to fix the bit on the higher tooth. We sometimes have to make modifications to our instruments to make them fit our bodies.
 

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Have you tried a mouthpiece patch? I like the thin smooth ones but there are some thicker gripper ones. I've played without one for over a decade. I bought a new mouthpiece that came with a patch. It felt weird at first but gave it a chance. Since then I prefer a patch. It helps a lot with the vibration of the mouthpiece.
I also have somewhat uneven teeth. Not so much that it is very visible, but enough that I put the mouthpiece off center and at an angle in my mouth. My bottom teeth also contribute to the issue, having one tooth in the middle as opposed to the normal two. The patch shows uneven marks (both in position and depth).

Unlike some other posts I wouldn't tell you how to play, but I agree that it's worth trying single lip. You can always decide it's not for you and stop. Try to give a patch a try if you haven't ruled that out already.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ambaryerno,

I'd also wonder what pitch you're getting on the mouthpiece by itself. You should be able to hit a C above the staff consistently without biting. Also, what's the pitch like on G-sharp, A and B-flat in the throat tones?

I'd also try a mouthpiece patch, and maybe even building up a second small patch to fix the bit on the higher tooth. We sometimes have to make modifications to our instruments to make them fit our bodies.
Throat tones edge a bit sharp if I don't use the upper lip..
 

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If it comes to that, your dentist can make a cover for uneven teeth - a bit like a compact acrylic mouthguard for 4 teeth. (I made my own once :) )
That is far preferable to double lip unless you are a professional, practicing religiously every day. High notes are very challenging for an amateur with double lip, far more challenging than what you are facing now, so I believe you are setting yourself up for major issues later.
 

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Your problem with open G and F2 is a simple one to solve and is one that every clarinettist comes up against when starting out. Don't do itt all by yourself, Ambaryerno; that's the best way to pick up bad habits, which you'll have the devil of a job to unlearn later. Get yourself a good clarinet teacher, ffs, and learn the "right way" to do it. A good teacher will help you to develop a good embouchure without biting, and will show you what you can do to counter the bad effects of an uneven bite.

Spend two years with a teacher, learn the "right way" to play clarinet, and practise what he/she tells you to do for an absolute minimum of an hour a day and you'll be a real clarinettist by the end of that time.

Then the fun starts. Once you've learnt to do it "right," and have developed a proper technique, you can experiment with your playing. For example, if you decide you don't want to play European Art Music, you should have gained the knowledge of where and how you can adjust your embouchure, your posture, et cetera, to broaden your tone, and make it big, fat and dirty if you want to play old-style jazz, or blues or biguine or klezmer. Learn to do it right first and you'll be the boss.
 
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