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Part of taking care of your instrument depends on the instrument. This article focuses on wind and brass instruments. So part of taking care of your instrument not only involves the assembling, playing and taking it apart. Some of the care of the instrument has to do with the embouchure. The embouchure is how you form your lips in order to play your instrument.

Here are some general principles to apply to almost all embouchure set-ups of beginning wind players:

1. Do not puff the cheeks or allow air to pillow underneath the lips.

2. Do not bunch the chin up underneath the mouthpiece.

3. Maintain a firm set to the corners of the mouth with a slight downward turn.

4. Allow the air to flow strongly and freely, without obstruction.

5. Too much tension is just as bad as he opposite condition.

6. In the brass embouchure exact mid placement of mouthpiece is a rarity.

Embouchure for Flute:

Center your lips on the hole by covering the hole with your lips and then rolling the hole out slightly. Some students will need to drop the position of the hole down very slightly at this point. begin blowing by keeping the lips relaxed and flat. Hold lips together and blow air quickly through a small opening in the very center. Bow across the hole and slightly upward. If you don't get a clear "tooting" sound try turning the hole toward or away from your lips. For excessive overbite or underbite try adjusting the position of the lower jaw forward or backward to align the teeth. Strive for a centered and strong (diaphragm supported) air stream.

Clarinet Embouchure:

Top teeth should lightly touch the top of the mouthpiece about 1/2 inch down, with top lip pushing down around mouthpiece. Bottom lip should roll slightly over bottom teeth and give solid support (touching about 1/3 to 1/2 way down the reed.) Teeth and lip should form a firm seal around complete mouthpiece (like a draw string pouch). You should be able to firmly hold the mouthpiece in the mouth if someone should shake it lightly. There should be no puffing of cheeks or lips. The chin should look flat and pointed. Air should be blown toward the reed and the head should be helped up. Remember to keep the corners of the mouth clenched but not smiling.

Saxaphone Embouchure:

Top teeth should lightly touch the top of the mouthpiece about 1/2 inch down, with top lip pushing down around mouthpiece. Bottom lip should roll slightly over bottom teeth and give solid support (touching about 1/3 to 1/2 way down the reed). Teeth and lip should form a firm seal around complete mouthpiece (like a draw string pouch) with equal pressure from sides. There should be no puffing of cheeks or lips. The chin should look flat and pointed. Air should be blown in a constantly supported, steady stream. Remember to keep the corners of the mouth clenched but not smiling. This is similar to the clarinet embouchure with the following exceptions. A little more mouthpieces are inserted into the mouth. The direction of the air stream is slightly different. The drawstring pouch effect will not be quite as firm and the angle of the mouthpiece will be at a higher angle as if blowing into the mouthpiece between the reed and the tip.

Trumpet Embouchure:

Lips should be moist, relaxed and together as if you just said the word "mom". There should be no forced tightening, thinning, or flattening (sometimes called a smile embouchure). The corners of the mouth should be firmly set in a downward direction. Buzzing the lips with a quick full stream of warm air produces sound. Puffing of the cheeks or lips is not allowed under any circumstances! After practice the lips should be able to buzz with a fairly relaxed feel in the center. Mouthpiece placement should show the mouthpiece covering approximately an equal amount of upper and lower lip. The amount of upper and lower lip will depend upon the individual player's jaw and teeth formation.

Trombone Embouchure:

Lips should be moist, relaxed and together as if you just said the word"mem". There should be no forced tightening, thinning, or flattening (sometimes called a smile embouchure). The corners of the mouth should be firmly set in a downward direction. Sound is produced by buzzing the lips with a quick full stream of warm air. Puffing of the cheeks or lips is not allowed under any circumstances! After practice the lips should be able to buzz with a fairly relaxed feel in the center. Mouthpiece placement should show the mouthpiece covering an approximate 60/40 ration of upper and lower lip.

Embouchure Problems:

Woodwinds keeping fingers in position and close to the keys can help prepare playing

Trumpet players flattened hand position inhibits rapid key movement

Wind players not using enough air and breath support

Distorted or improper angle of mouthpiece

More Advance Players using improper mouthpieces, reeds and set-ups

Not enough emphasis on beat development and maintenance

Trombonists playing with improper slide grip and arm motion

Trombonists with improper slide positions

Damage the instrument caused by improper maintenance and assembly

Improper practice habits

Developing Good Practice Habits

Set up a routine - when this become a habit they are easier to maintain

A good routine will include: warm up exercises, studies, melodic phrasing and musical development, sight reading, warm down and instrument maintenance

Make sure you have clear goals to accomplish during practice

Keep records of the time you practice and your progress

Make sure you have a distraction free time and place to practice

When starting out try to practice at a consistent time each day

Practicing each day is better than more time on fewer days

Find someone to play duets with.