Beginning clarinet student….no sound

Dear Sir:

I teach elementary instrumental music. I have a student who is having difficulty making a tone on the clarinet. I have worked on his mouth formation/embouchure and airflow, and will sit down 1-1 to do more of this. He is using a “family” clarinet, and it is being serviced today, in order to check that it is not the problem. What I am wondering is if someone more experienced, who has gained some knowledge and tips, could let me know what his problem might be. I assume it has to do with airflow, but perhaps there are other reasons, or things that I am not picking up on.

Another few questions:

What should clarinettists do about building up muscle so that the corners of the mouth don’t tire and puff out?

Is it just more breath that will help students play the lower notes (i.e. low F)?
Thanks so much for your time!


The covering of the fingers should be done first with only the open G, no fingers required.
If there is no sound, the reed is either too soft, too resistant, or not centered on the mouthpiece.
The lips have little to do with it at this point.
Try to get the student to emit only the open g, using just a little support and no real lip pressure of any kind.
If he can get the g , you are in business. Proceed to the thumb only f.
Repeat these steps. Continue slowly down to the c, Make sure the students remembers
Again, only the very basic embouchure is involved, which is lower lip over the lower teeth, top teeth on mouthpiece, and slight smile on the mouth and lips. Jaw should be pointed down(really a later step).
Many young students bite so hard because they think they must blow hard, not the case, but difficult to fix sometimes.
Try just the mouthpiece and the reed, making a sound on just that much is relatively simple, certainly no fingers until sound is achieved., then proceed as above.

stay well, play well.


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