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OK, there is no correct embouchure, there is only the one you end up with that seems to work. Donna Schwartz seems to think that the natural embouchure with lip straight across (no encircling like a rubber band, i.e. Larry Teal) is the right one. This embouchure seems to work for me. It seems so relaxed and lower lip feels like cushion against the reed. I didn't have to change much because I could never do Teal's embouchure correctly. All I really needed to do was to say to myself, "don't try to do Teal's embouchure" and I had it. Anybody else use the Schwartz embouchure? BTW, I got it from a guy who bought her lesson videos. Her free videos on youtube are pretty good.
 

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I guess this is where mine falls. I squeeze in *slightly* at the corners and am relaxed everywhere else. My embouchure exists only to not let air escape, functioning like a rubber gasket more than anything else.

Is it "right"? I've no idea.
 

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A few thoughts:

You may THINK you aren't applying any significant force somewhere, but I bet it's just that those muscles are so strong you don't notice it.

I am not exactly clear on the difference between the two models you describe. You have to exert some kind of force on the side or all the air will blow out. Play a four hour loud rock and roll set and you'll see what I mean.

My experience was that I did a whole lot of playing loud, a whole lot of playing soft, and a whole lot of practicing outside doing long tones and interval studies in the open air without any walls to reflect sound back at me; and my muscles got trained to support that. If you do that, I submit that you will remove bad habits (because they won't work) and reinforce good ones (because they will). You won't bite till your lower lip bleeds, at least you won't if you're not a masochist or idiot. And so on. I think that what I ended up with is similar to the description in the Teal book, but I would hesitate to speculate on the relative amount of force in the different areas of the embouchure.

I think everyone ought to keep in mind that most of these "embouchure concepts" are MODELS and ANALOGIES not exact anatomical descriptions.

I also think everyone ought to keep in mind that a lot of what is described in "embouchure concepts" is really a reaction against bad habits; thus overstating the case so as to break students from the bad habit. For example, we know that stretching your lower lip tight over your bottom teeth and biting in is a bad habit. Tell the student to roll their lower lip completely out like a child pouting is a useful teaching tool to break the bad habit. But I suspect that the reality is that by the time that student breaks the bad habit and actually makes use of a modified embouchure, the lower lip is reallly standing more vertical, using the teeth only as a guide and lateral support, but no longer biting down and cutting into the lip. Problem solved, as long as you don't start people out thinking they have to address the mouthpice with a full-on pout (which is an incredibly inefficient way to use the muscles).

Keep in mind that you have to apply SOME force to the reed, otherwise the air will just hiss past it. Especially at low volumes.
 

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The Joe Allard Method that I learned from David Liebmans book, Developing a personal sound says leave the lower lip relaxed and think the syllable V with the lower lip , almost rolled out. But like Saxoclese says do what works K Overtone work seems to help me K
 

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What are your opinions on a classical embouchure differing from what you do when you play jazz?
 

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I actually think that the Larry Teal embouchure is way more like the "straight lip" - just look at the picture of him, and don't look at the diagram :) It's just that he is thinking of the rubber band; what he is doing is very similar to what many other people call the straight lip - like Donna Schwartz, Jerry Bergonzi and many others.
 

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If by straight lip, you're also implying flat chin, that doesn't work at all for me playing jazz. My first teacher was a clarinet player, hence taught me the straight lip (flat chin) one you describe. Works ok for a classical tone. But for me to have the most control and "intimate" sound with whisper quiet subtone, scooping, breathy or piercing or lush, I need as much flesh with muscle support on the reed as possible.
 

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Man, I don't think about any of this stuff. I just put the mouthpiece in my mouth and go from there. No thought about chin placement, or jaw placement, or tongue placement. I just blow straight through. I don't know...I think this stuff is so over thought. My mouth doesn't stay in one place the whole time when I play, it moves naturally wherever it goes and I don't think about any of that. I just let it happen.

I think its like the golf swing. My buddies ask me all the time what am I thinking when I take the club back, and what happens at the top of the swing, and what do I think about on the follow through. What are my hands doing, what are my elbows doing, do I think of the turn, etc........oyyyyyy. Im a scratch golfer, and I honestly just take it back and make sure there is speed at the bottom of the swing arc when I swing through.
I don't know where anything is, and I like it like that. I just swing how it feels naturally and my swing changes for different scenarios throughout the round. I just let it happen how it happens naturally.

I think so much is over thought and Im sure you can group many styles of embouchures into different groups to label them, but I like to just do it how it feels naturally. Any thought about it for me, would drive me nuts.

Just my 2 cents...

If you are a beginner, of course you’ve got to start somewhere and have some thoughts, but after that, just let it happen naturally.


Do whatever you need to do for you, but I can tell you for me...not thinking about it is the best way for me to go.
 

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I think so much is over thought and Im sure you can group many styles of embouchures into different groups to label them, but I like to just do it how it feels naturally.
Disclaimer: I'm not an expert, but this is how I feel about it, too. The only thing I consciously think about with respect to my embouchure is am I relaxed, i.e. not biting?
 

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If by straight lip, you're also implying flat chin, that doesn't work at all for me playing jazz. My first teacher was a clarinet player, hence taught me the straight lip (flat chin) one you describe. Works ok for a classical tone. But for me to have the most control and "intimate" sound with whisper quiet subtone, scooping, breathy or piercing or lush, I need as much flesh with muscle support on the reed as possible.
By "straight lip" I meant something like the "no-embouchure embouchure" approach that Bergonzi teaches. Clarinet embouchure technique definitely does not work for saxophone. Look at Larry Teal's picture in The Art of Saxophone Playing - that's a nice, relaxed embouchure. It does not look like a rubber band embouchure at all. Better yet, go look at some Dexter videos...

Man, I don't think about any of this stuff. I just put the mouthpiece in my mouth and go from there. No thought about chin placement, or jaw placement, or tongue placement. I just blow straight through. I don't know...I think this stuff is so over thought. My mouth doesn't stay in one place the whole time when I play, it moves naturally wherever it goes and I don't think about any of that. I just let it happen.
Yeah Mark. Keep your gut hard, stick the d**n thing in your mouth and blow!
 

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Alas....musicians being honest about embouchure. What I am trying to figure out is why there are only two basic descriptions of the lower embouchure......biting or relaxed. I definitely don’t bite. So much so, that sometimes I pull my top teeth off of the mouthpiece and just supporting the mpc with my lips while playing.....no teeth anywhere supporting my lips.....but I wouldn’t call it relaxed. My gut is pushing hard while lip muscles are working to support the reed and prevent air leaks. Sometimes I do the pouty lip thing too (top and bottom)......definitely no teeth involved.....but I’m not sure I would call it relaxed. Isn’t there another description for “lips are working, but teeth not used?”
 
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