Double Lip Embouchure

Hello, sir. My name is Niral Patel, and I am a clarinetist in 9th grade that goes to HH Dow High School in Midland Michigan. I am in the concert band there, and I hope to make it into the Symphonic Band before the year is up.

I have a question for you, sir. All of my teachers have been telling me that I have much skill, but they would like me to change my embouchure. I have learned the way that i play now, on a double Lip embouchure. I am not really sure, however, if I should conform to what they would like me to do. Is it true that you can achieve a better tone with a single lip embouchre, or is it only personal preference? They tell me that my tone would not change much, but they would prefer it – is there any reason that this would be the case?

Thanks for your time!

Niral M. Patel

Hello Niral

While I have written on this subject in prior years, the importance is certainly worth another response, allbeit of the same nature.

Simply put, the so-called double lip embouchure is the most natural and successful way of playing the clarinet. The finest players in history have all used double lip, for instance Ralph Maclean (Phliadelphia Orchestra) Harold Wright (Boston Symphony), and Gino Cioffi (Boston Symphony) have all used it with great success. It is the most natural way of playing the clarinet and actully the easiest.

I feel that your teachers are either not clarinetists or never were exposed to this way of playing if in fact they are clarinetists. Your sound will suffer if you switch to single lip. They feel most probably, but incorrectly that perhaps you will have more control of intonation, or more directly they simply do not know the embouchure.

I myself always used both types when playing for I found the double lip to be a most excellent way of playing, therapeutic, for you cannot “bite” or bang on the keys with your fingers and the legato is worlds better with this embouchure.

In any event, that is my opinion and I have been a clarinetist for more than 50 years.

So, keep up the good work, for you are on the right track.

Sincerely, SF


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