Teeth not on mouthpiece!!!

by Laura

I have been playing for 3 years and the whole time I have had the wrong embouchure. I don't put my top teeth on the mouthpiece, instead I roll my top lip over my teeth. I seem to get a good sound out of it though and whenever I try to put my teeth on the mouthpiece I can't get over the break very well, my sound seems funny and it feel like my teeth are getting a drill in them from the vibration. Should I try to change my embouchure or just leave it the way it is, and if I should change it how do I get used to it?


Hello Laura,

Well Laura, I’m going to tell you, your embouchure is not wrong. You are playing what is called “Double-Lip Clarinet Embouchure.” It is actually the embouchure I play; however, I teach the more commonly played “Single-Lip Clarinet Embouchure.”

It is very interesting that you are finding crossing the break harder with the single lip embouchure. Double-lip embouchure played well will give you a better legato over the break as well as all over the clarinet range. Yes, if you put the teeth on the mouthpiece, you will feel more of a vibration in your teeth and bone structure.

Leave your clarinet embouchure as it is. If you see a clarinet teacher, make sure they do not try to sell you on the single-lip embouchure. If you have a chance, try to study, private clarinet lessons with a teacher who plays double-lip clarinet embouchure. You will have a hard time finding a teacher who plays double-lip.

I started clarinet with single-lip clarinet embouchure. I had a masters degree and a full, professional job with the West Point Band before I changed to double-lip clarinet embouchure with master teacher Kalman Opperman in New York City. As I know there are many great clarinetists who play single-lip, I found that my sound was better with double-lip. However, the disadvantage is it takes twice the work and does create some pain.

The sound on double-lip clarinet embouchure has a better ring to it. With good finger technique, the legato throughout the range is better also.

As I do have to march on my job, I switch back to single-lip playing as to not mess up my upper lip by biting into it. I’m hoping you do well playing clarinet and best of luck.


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