Creating an Effective Embouchure

Your lips are vibrating membranes...~ Marcel Moyse


Embouchure:

Is the formation of your lips through which the river of air moves.

Your air, whole body, spirit, musical imagination and your instrument create your sound and your embouchure.

Every Face and Lips are one of a kind and so is the creation of your Embouchure!

Photos of many famous flute embouchures.


Learn, Look, Listen and Experiment with curiosity to hear what creates your most natural formation of your lips and your most beautiful centered sound. Look in the Mirror too!


First thing to remember about embouchure: Flexible & Air first, fast (moving), forward and flowing!


Centering:

Center and even balance of the lip plate on your chin under the red of your lip.




Center your aperture opening to the center of the opening in your head joint hole.


Your Embouchure refines the air and your sound.


It is best to create a natural formation with your lips. One that has movement and is a Supple, Stable Structure that can Sculpt your Air and your Sound.

Let’s look at the main parts of the embouchure, even though all parts work together, in concert to create your embouchure.


Top /Upper Lip:

Aims and directs the Angle of the Air across and down into the flute.


Lip Push Pups & Rabbit Face in these diagrams at the right.





Top Lip:

Press straight down from the sides of the nostrils, sides of white upper lip against top of eye teeth and corners pressed forward and pulled to sides, with red lips rolling forward and pressed together away from teeth, forward and flat.

Creative an almond space is between the eyeteeth and the air is aiming across the hole not straight down into it.

Bottom Lip:

Lip plate connects to the chin and bottom lip connects

to the lip plate. Connections: chin, lip plate, lower lip.

Feel the wide length of your lower lip, releasing your corners.

Allow bottom lip to spill over onto the lip plate.

Imagine that there are magnets on your chin

that attract and connect your lip to the lip plate.



Place your finger under red of lip on your chin shelf.

This will help you feel and be sensitive to your connection.

Then place your bottom lip on the chin shelf.

Bottom lip curls out & forward, use the inner, inside wet membrane of the lips.

Create a cushion of the air between the teeth and bottom lip.

Then the top lip then sits on the bottom lip shelf.

Next the aperture is create by the air moving between the lips.


James Galway - Embouchure Video


Christina Jennings - Embouchure

Aperture:

Aperture is created by your fast air stream moving between sealed moist inner lip membranes. “mmm, paah”

The moving air parts the lips... ~ Clemente Barone

Aim air through moist sealed rolled out inner lip membranes.

The fast air creates the aperture moving through the inner lips. It's a subtle but critical difference to have air creating the aperture.


Make a long sound straw, tunnel using the rolled out inner, inside wet membrane of your lips. Imagine a small coffee straw to the size of a needle thin airstream.


You can try this, with your finger undertake red of lip and on your chin, saying Ahhh, mmmm Pah or Pooh... and releasing the air.


The aperture helps to control air flow, sculpting and shaping your air stream and your sound.

When the lip tube, sound tunnel, sound straw, air reedis long it creates a warmer sound and faster air.


Examples of how the aperture may change shape for each register and dynamic.



Upper register & softer dynamics: higher pressure/support and faster air and a smaller and rounder aperture and angle of air is is across, corners forward, and more forward and higher. The “ooo” vowel will bring lips forward. Ah and oh opens.


Middle register & medium dynamics: medium pressure/support and medium fast air, a bit longer and more elliptical aperture and angle of air is across and lower. The “ahh" vowel helps open and the corners.


Lower register & forte dynamics: lower pressure/support and slower air and a more elliptical, longer opening. The angle of the air is across, lower angle, and “oh” vowel.


Tongue:

I think of the tongue like a playful dolphin and your breath is the water it plays in.


The tongue muscle is a very important part of how you create your sound.

Best for the Tongue to be soft, relaxed and wide across mouth, feeling the air flowing all around it.



When the tongue is relaxed this informs the jaw to let go and influences the bottom lip to release onto the lip plate with ease.


Where is your tongue in your mouth? Is it high, low, forward, back, tight, curled, bunched up…?

Ideal is Easy, mid to low in the mouth, relaxed, AHHHHH.

Get to know your tongue and allow it to relax and be soft and natural in your mouth.


Jaw:

Allow Jaw to hang, let go and release, be free. The jaw hangs from your skull in a neutral position. Make some vowel shapes.

Ahhh is the most neutral position for the jaw to be in.

You want to have an independent bottom lip and neutral jaw that allows for some movement.


First have supple, flexible lips that can move with ease.

For extreme dynamics and large intervals subtle jaw movement will help to support the lips and angle of air that is changing.




Vowels:

Help inform the natural movement of the embouchure.

Experiment with these Vowels and notice how they change your embouchure: Ooo, Ahhh, OH , Ahh, Ooo…

I feel that changing vowels (for colors, for movement that allows for easeful playing and open vs. closing space in the oral cavity) and vowels for influencing the embouchure in natural ways.


I like to say the vowels while having my index finger under my lower lip. Be aware and curios about how this changes the embouchure and the oral cavity.


0oo: for softer p, dynamics, for tapering a note, and for ascending intervals. Higher register embouchure formation, and then back to ahh or oh vowel for resonant sound)


Ahh: for mf , easeful most gentle open place for playing.


Ohh: for Forte, embouchure and to open from ahh, to oh for resonance.


Oral Cavity/Cathedral:


The inside of your mouth, throat, vocal folds, pharynx, sinus…


Learn to feel the air resonating : SPACIOUS SPINNING AIR!

Open and spacious for the air to flow through with Ease and the sound to Resonate!


Facial Muscles:

Learn about your facial muscles.

Release unnecessary tension from your whole body, face, jaw,

lips and tongue.

Make faces in the mirror to isolate individual muscles that you are using.

Look at images and learn about your facial muscles.



Here are a few important ones:


Mentalis: pushes up bottom lip.

Depressor labii inferioris: curls lower lip out and down away from teeth.

Levator labii superioris: lifts upper lip away from teeth, stop pinching.

Nasalis: pushes upper lip down, at nose bridge and below it.



Your embouchure is a combination of amazing muscles!


and getting to know, connecting with them in a curious, playful and meaningful way will give you more freedom and flexibility in your playing!


AND, your embouchure, the formation of your lips, is CONNECTED to your WHOLE FACE & BODY...


They all work together in an inclusive way. So always going back to the WHOLE of yourself !


There is more information and videos on my Youtube Channel and in my 21 Days of Guided Creative Practice.


~ Jennifer

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