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Discussion Starter #1
I am starting to focus a lot more on being able to double on clarinet. What are the differences between those two embouchures?

Garrett
 

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In a nutshell Garrett, Firmness.
Clarinet requires a firmer embouchure than sax even when using what I would concider a softer reed. It's a much easier concept to show.
I've read other sax players tell newer clarinetists to have a bit of mouthpiece showing above the reed. DON'T do it. When the reed is on properly you should be able to apply light pressure with your thumb and have the tip of the reed flush with the tip of the mouthpiece. Fewer squeeks, better tone quality.
Have fun!
 

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Here's a good way to determine how much mouthpiece to take in on the clarinet: blow the open G, taking in more and more mouthpiece until you squeak, then back off a little.
 

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Hey. That's the same way I fix my car. I tighten the nut with my socket wrench till the bolt snaps off, and then I go back a quarter turn. :D

That's why I became a band teacher instead of a mechanic.

John
 

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Part of the problem with the saxophone to clarinet cross over is that the clarinet experience is "apparently" (to the well trained saxophonist) very similar to the saxophone, and thus sax players think that it's an easy road to travel.

In effect, the fingering issues, different yet similar, are much the same for this swap (and for any other, witness the similarity of much of the flute, bassoon and oboe chart to the saxophone). The same cannot be said for the embouchure.

I still maintain that it's far easier to go from clarinet to sax than it is to travel in the opposite direction. In the clarinet world, one of the hardest things to accomplish with a new student is just how to hold those facial muscles. Eventually, you get the point across, using terms like "flat chin", "smile", and "fold that lower lip", and from there it's a matter of toughening up and gaining the endurance that long practice earns. It's also one area where a teacher can pass on more knowledge than in other areas. The "example" that a teacher, already versed in the ways of the clarinet, can set, and the feedback that a teacher can offer after observing the efforts of the student, play huge roles when teaching "the way of the clarinet".

Saxophone players who desire the switch to take place are in a different situation. They already have mastered a similar fingering system, have the music reading down pat, and can (with minimal effort) get some sound out of a clarinet. (Recall too that Sax made his marvel by placing the mouthpiece of a clarinet on a keyed bugle.) As it looks much the same, the theory goes that it must work much the same. With all of these pre-existing advantages, the general belief is that the switch shouldn't be that difficult.

We clarinet players have it good because we start out with a developed embouchure and have to learn to "slack off" a bit to make it work. I contend that it is easier to start out with the relatively tight embouchure required of clarinet playing, and then to loosen things up, than it is to go the opposite direction.

The point of all of this is that, like flute playing, the best way to develop the right buccal skills to play the clarinet is to seek out the advice of a well-trained player, not to do it yourself. It's not a matter of a four year course of study, but rather just enough time to ensure that you learn that the mouth works somewhat differently on the sax than it does on the clarinet. And, it shouldn't be considered a sign of weakness, or a lack of professionalism if you do so.
 

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bandmommy said:
I've read other sax players tell newer clarinetists to have a bit of mouthpiece showing above the reed. DON'T do it. When the reed is on properly you should be able to apply light pressure with your thumb and have the tip of the reed flush with the tip of the mouthpiece. Fewer squeeks, better tone quality.
Have fun!
I disagree, and I was told this by my clarinet teacher who's a mindblowing virtuoso on the horn and who's very busy as a classical, jazz, free improv, and new music clarinettist. The reed should be back just a hair from the tip.
I agree with everything else, though.
 

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littlemanbighorn said:
I disagree, and I was told this by my clarinet teacher who's a mindblowing virtuoso on the horn and who's very busy as a classical, jazz, free improv, and new music clarinettist. The reed should be back just a hair from the tip.
I agree with everything else, though.
If the reed is on the firm side(ie new reed) I move the reed back a hair. If the reed is on the soft side I move the reed flush with the tip or a hair forward. I also move the reed sideways sometimes to improve the balance. The best position should be where the reed sounds best. Strict rules can handicap. Experiment.
Martin
 

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Discussion Starter #10
thanks guys. I started off in 6th grade playing clarinet and then in 7th grade I switched to saxophone. I am now a sophomore in high school and my private lesson teacher said that I should start to play clarinet more and be able to play very well on both instruments. I started playing it again about a week ago and I think now I have a pretty good tone on the clarinet. I think my main question was embouchure, but I think that I got that covered now.

Thanks,
Garrett
 
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