Long tones, an essential in building embouchure and sound

 Dear Mr Friedland:Hello!

First thank you for the incredible abundance of information on your site!  There are suprisingly few good sources of detailed tips for our instrument on the web.

My question:  long tones are often stressed in advice about practicing well.  What are the specific exercises you recommend for young players as well as those more advanced?

Thanks in advance!

Dear AN: Thank you for your note and your question. I am happy to help.
long tones should be played initially only in the low register in order to develop embouchure and sound. An improving maturing embouchure will produce with time, a better sound. When you begin, or properly, even before you begin, make sure you have formed your embouchure and start each note correctly  with a clean attack with the smallest amount of tongue on the reed so as to begin cleanly and without extraneous noises.(In that way you also practice your attack)
I have always begun my initial playing of my instrument by playing long tones, starting on low E or low F in two ways: first, play the long tones mezzo forte for 12 slow beats for each note. No crescendo or diminuendo is necessary at first, just a solid mezzo forte or even forte, but not as loudly as you can play. Make sure that your embouchure is set and that you are ready to play prior to playing. Many people seem to throw the clarinet toward their embouchure and let forth a sound without carefully setting your embouchure. Work for  initially, just a very clear sound, preceded by a clear attack, and even preceding that with a big natural breath. Practice just one octave of the scale ascending and descending. It is important  not to tire yourself, meaning your embouchure. This should take about ten minutes or so and may be repeated using crescendo and diminuendo on each long tone. Do not play long tones to the point of fatigue; take plenty of breath and again make sure that you are playing correctly and carefully starting each note. After a bit your will experience a bit of fatigue at the sides of your mouth. Do not overdo the practicing of long tones, I would suggest a period of  no more than 15 minutes for this part of your practice. While you are practicing long tones, check for air leakage. In fact check for anything abnormal in your playing. Practicing these sound will also assist you in the beginnings of reed discernment.

good luck, Sherman

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