Clarinet Embouchure issues (Saxophone)

by Noela

And I have been playing the clarinet since 6th grade. I started taking lessons in 8th grade and now I am 17. I still take lessons, and I guess I'm pretty good at playing the clarinet. I was a 1st in All-State and got 5th place in our district solo competition, however I am now stuck in a rut. I have no idea what has happened to me, but my embouchure is just terrible now. I mean, at the first few measures I play, it's great, but then it starts to get bunchy and beginner-like. Maybe it's also because I've been playing the baritone saxophone for 6 years, but this has not happened to me to this extent before. I was wondering if you knew any embouchure-strengthening exercises, techniques or devices that I could use to help my embouchure stop seeping out air through the corners of my mouth. Thank you....


Hello Noela,

Congratulations on making All-State. You do have some accomplishments to your credit. It is true that no matter what your accomplishments, you can pick-up or max-out bad habits. Maybe you’ve had these poor embouchure problems all along, but now you are playing enough to reach a breaking point.

Playing bari-saxophone does not help your clarinet embouchure. It is good to play sax for marketability and to play different styles of music, but it is a major embouchure change from the clarinet. The clarinet embouchure is VERY stable. You should not have to make any large embouchure adjustments for intonation on clarinet. On bari-sax, or any sax, the embouchure is more flexible to adjust for the large tendencies of the instrument.

So, you are probably carrying some of the sax embouchure to clarinet and vice versa. Also, if you are playing more saxophone (and embouchure less strict than clarinet) than clarinet, you will lose muscle tone for the clarinet embouchure.

Have you discussed this with to your teacher? Is your teacher a clarinet, saxophone, or both instruments teacher? If speaking to this teacher brings no help, you might start searching for a clarinet specific teacher. Here is a good place to read through to brainstorm on where to find a clarinet teacher.

You asked about exercises for the embouchure. Try long tones and this crossing the break page. Also, take a really good read through poor clarinet embouchure and clarinet embouchure pages and analyze what you are doing in front of a mirror. Certainly you have scales memorized, practice the scales in front of the mirror and really watch your embouchure.

If your chin is not flat and you see a good deal of chin movement or lip movement, you really should consult a clarinet teacher, either your current teacher or another source.

Are you thinking of college music either as a major, minor, or extracurricular activity (university band)? Really ask around about who the best clarinet teachers are at the universities you are considering. See if you can get a sample lesson from one of them.

Here is another clarinet embouchure air leak page to read through. I can only ask you to read through these items and then consult a live teacher. I wish you the best of luck and practicing. Please keep me informed on your results. Thanks.


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