Jaw Movement

Mr. Friedland:

I need some help. I have a terrible time keeping my jaw still, particularly when I go from the clarion to the chalumeau register. I have had this habit for a long time and I certainly need to break it. I have been playing for about 9 years, and I am currently in college studying at Drake University in Des Moines, IA. My setup is a Buffet R-13 with silver plated keys, Mitchell Lurie mouthpiece with a Rovner Light ligature, and on Vandoren V-12 reeds strength 3 1/2. My professor at Drake, Clarence Padilla, suggested that I play with a pocket mirror. I have been currently doing that for about a semester but nothing really has changed. I am trying to find out if there are any other techniques to use or any exercises that will help with this problem.

Thank you for your time.

– Chris Huls


Hi Chris:

Your teacher is correct :use a mirror on the stand. Unfortunately , that is not all, as a matter of fact it is only the beginning of the tip of the iceberg(or the tongue in this case).

You have got to slow your articulation motion down, down down, to really “slow motion”:

Although I think there is a good article in the “Corner” on this, let me repeat the steps, perhaps a slightly different method will help. (words are wonderful, a teacher never knows exactly the combination that rings the bell.

Remember, all of this in excruciatingly SLOW motion:
1. Make your embouchure.
2. Prepare to tongue a note (pick the easiest one for you)
3. Place to tongue on the reed at whatever juncture you feel is correct.(most teachers say the tip of the tongue on the tip of the reed, an impossibility.) better, the smallest amount of tongue on the reed, or under the reed , that is humanly possibly.
4. Exert support pressure, and place your tongue stopping the reed from vibrating.
5. Listen for the sound of the air traveling through the clarinet, NO sound yet.
6. Allow the tongue to quickly move back from the reed and to allow the main stream of air into the clarinet.
7. While doing this do not allow the jaw to drop.(mirror, mirror on the stand)
8. You may squeak or make some kind of unmusical noise. Repeat, exactly, until you can do this with less and less commotion
9. The point is to make the sound as quickly as possible after removing the tongue from the reed.(without moving the jaw)
10. Repeat, repeat repeat, for some it comes easier than for others, but come it does, for everyone.

Remember, the old Friedland adage:

“If you center your attention on your faulty point(s) completely, they will soon become your best points.” 

your’s sincerely … courage!

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