I am pleased to announce the publication of my new website and blog. I decided that I might have something to say in regards to playing the clarinet, teaching the clarinet and just being a musician for some 40plus (ahem....) years! I hope that you will find these posts helpful and that you will find useful information for your own playing or your students.
For my first post, I would like to address one aspect of the clarinet embouchure and that is the single-lip method. The single-lip method is playing with the bottom teeth covered and the top teeth touching the mouthpiece. Double lip has the player covering both their bottom teeth and top teeth with their lips. A beautiful sound can be attained using either method, but for most of us, we use the single-lip approach.
I cannot count the numerous times over the years when a student has come to me with issues ranging from not being able to get high notes, play over the break, or playing with too little volume, etc. Too many times the student either did not have their top teeth touching the mouthpiece or they were barely touching the top of the mouthpiece. Many times, they were surprised that they were allowed to put their teeth on the top of the mouthpiece.
I tell these students to pretend that the mouthpiece is a firm apple that they sink their teeth into and hold on. I have them use the thick mouthpiece patches (the black ones, not the clear ones) that several companies make. This will help with the grip. Never use the word "tight". The embouchure is firm and poised. Remember it is the embouchure and the right thumb that hold the clarinet up. This is much easier to do if your top teeth have a good grasp.
Obviously, putting your teeth on top of the mouthpiece is not the fix-all - nothing is. But, try this week, if one your students is having issues with sound production, make sure their grip is in place. Hold on to that mouthpiece and push up.