How much mouthpiece?
(Toronto, ON, Canada)
I've been really fixing up my embouchure and my articulation technique. I find it's A LOT easier to articulate I use more mouthpiece, but I find my tone starts to honk and lose that ringing, focused sound. Am I taking too much reed, or should I maybe try a harder reed?
If you take too much mouthpiece on the clarinet, you will definitely get a honking, unfocused sound. You can learn more about how much mouthpiece to take by going to this Poor Clarinet Embouchure page at No. 6.
Here is the blurb on too much mouthpiece on the Poor Clarinet Embouchure page.
POOR CLARINET EMBOUCHURE #6
Too much mouthpiece in mouth will sound like a goose. It is commonly described that if you put too much mouthpiece in your mouth, and then pull the mouthpiece out slowly, you will find a nice, sweet spot where you get a beautiful, full clarinet sound. How do you know you have too much mouthpiece in the mouth? You will definitely squeak or squawk every time you try to make a sound. Again, go to that point and incrementally (or a little bit at a time) pull the mouthpiece out. You will find a place where you do not squeak anymore and make a big beautiful sound. Experiment with this in front of a mirror.
I find it interesting that you are able to articulate easier if you have a lot of mouthpiece in your mouth. On clarinet, I usually explain using the tip of the tongue to touch just below the tip of the mouthpiece. If you have too much mouthpiece in the mouth, the tongue would have to articulate way lower on the reed. You can read more about Clarinet Articulation here.
One way to improve clarinet articulation is to try to practice on a lighter reed. I often recommend this when a student wishes to work on articulating rapidly on clarinet. Using a lighter reed will help you figure out the right amount of dexterity. You can build up your tongue and embouchure muscles with the lighter reed, play longer practice sessions, and eventually increase the reed strength.
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