Clarinet Playing | Articulation Advice

1st June 2020

Achieving a clean and crisp articulation is obviously the goal for all of us. We asked top Clarinet player Elizabeth Drew to give some tips for all advancing players on this topic…

3 Important Points:

  1. The embouchure needs to be established correctly
  2. The air stream needs to be constant and supported
  3. The reed itself needs to have enough elasticity and be of the correct strength

Practical Tips

Let’s consider the fundamentals of articulation. The thinnest part of the reed (the tip) needs to be allowed to vibrate freely. Therefore how we touch and interact with the tip of the reed is paramount.

  1. We must place the tip of the tongue, if not slightly underneath it, on the tip of the reed and check where your positioning is on the mouthpiece.
  2. Play a first finger and thumb E and hold the note with the air stream supported.
  3. Then bring the tip of the tongue to the tip of the reed in one moment: ON / OFF / ON / OFF etc
  4. Next, begin with a longer note then think of single beats (a second or so) and firstly hold the note for 3 counts, sound for a count, no sound for a count etc.
  5. So, release 1, 2, 3, on/off + on/off – IMPORTANT: Keep the air flowing and constant. Use the tongue to interrupt the air flow for the off beats.
  6. Pay attention to the beginning and end of the notes
  7. Consider how far your tongue is moving to start and stop the reed vibration. Keep it as short a distance as possible.
  8. Play again trying on quavers and semi-quavers

Would you like an online lesson with Liz?

In demand as a teacher, adjudicator and coach Elizabeth has worked for the Royal Academy of Music, the Dublin Institute of Technology, Birmingham Conservatoire, and Guildhall School of Music and Drama as well as numerous music festivals and competitions in the UK. Now it’s possible to have an online lesson yourself…

Elizabeth’s goal when teaching is to give the student the possibility to fulfil their known potential and hopefully to feed their as yet unknown potential. She guides and encourages the practice of ‘intelligent thinking’ and conscious listening which results in students becoming independent musicians. She looks forward to meeting you, her future students and guiding you on the path to becoming fine clarinetists and ultimately informed musicians.

For more info on Liz’s online lessons & availability please CLICK HERE