Are you questioning whether or not you (or your students) are playing with correct embouchure on bassoon? Are you confused about how to create a bassoon embouchure in the first place? These 3 super simple steps will not only help you make the embouchure, but they will be easy to remember in the future! The video below discusses these steps and also provides some visual examples to learn from.
1. Make a Whistling Face (00:25)
Make a whistling face. Even if you don’t know how to whistle, you can just pretend! A whistling face brings the lips forward and into a round cushion that will support the reed.
2. Roll Bottom Lip Slightly Over Bottom Teeth (00:45)
While you are making the whistling face, take a finger and roll your bottom *just slightly* over your bottom teeth. Your bottom lip will eventually be the primary cushion for the reed to sit on, while your top lip will gently cover the top of the reed.
3. Make an Overbite (01:06)
Create an overbite. An overbite simply means that your top lip will be slightly ahead of your bottom lip if you were to look at your embouchure from the side. Your top lip should be somewhere around 2/3 of the way up the reed. Use a mirror or have someone take a picture of your embouchure from the side to make sure that you have everything in the right place.
Common Mistakes (02:05)
It’s really easy to develop bad habits with the embouchure. One of the most common bad habits is that the student will bite or pinch the reed to control it, and often their lips are too flat across, rather than having the corners pulled inwards (like when you create the whistling face). This creates a harsh and brittle sound and often the pitch is sharp.
Bad embouchure habits are sometimes the result of not having good quality reeds to play on. Reeds that are cheap and not handmade by a bassoonist are often not finished properly and create too much resistance for the student, thereby forcing them to pinch to make sound. If possible, try to purchase handmade reeds by a professional bassoonist for the best success. You can purchase my handmade reeds here.
As you learn bassoon, try to remind yourself daily what the 3 steps for the embouchure are: whistling face, bottom lip over bottom teeth, and create an overbite. Stick to these steps and after awhile, the embouchure will become like second nature to you and you won’t have to worry about developing bad habits!
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