Tips for Beginners

The Clarinet Embouchure

Forming the clarinet embouchure is the most important thing you can do to get a pleasing clarinet tone. Practice this without the instrument, then with the mouthpiece and barrel only. When you can produce an F# on the mouthpiece and barrel, you are on your way to a great tone.

  • Put upper teeth firmly on the top of the mouthpiece.
  • Place the lower lip slightly over the lower teeth.
  • Seal the lips around the mouthpiece; make them firm.
  • Point the chin and firm up the corners of the mouth.
  • Keep the lips firm while opening the mouth slightly.
  • Don't bite down on the mouthpiece.
  • Blow a fast stream of air from the tummy. Work for a steady, even tone.

Try this: Cut a strip of tissue paper about an inch wide and tape it to a pencil. See if you can blow a steady stream of air and make the paper fly away from the pencil. How long can you keep it there?

Keep it clean: Keep your mouthpiece clean by shaking the moisture out after every use. Once a week, run warm water through it, shake it out, and dry the outside with a soft cloth. Swab out your instrument after every use. First, remove the mouthpiece. Drop the weighted end of the swab into the bell and gently pull it through and out the barrel. Wipe the moisture off your reed and put it in a reed guard, or put it back on the mouthpiece.

Remember: Your band director knows best. Follow his or her suggestions. Practice a lot, 15-30 minutes a day. Be in attendance for every class and every performance. You are important.