by Yi Man

manyiA good embouchure is crucial for a performer to better save and use the air. It helps beginners to establish a solid foundation for a further development.

In order to maximize the strength of muscles around your mouth and to contribute it to your performance, we need these four parts of muscles (figure 2) almost at the same time. As for the level of using them, it really depends on difficulties, dynamics and register of the music. These four parts of muscles can also be seen as four stable points. They help to settle our embouchure and vibration.Centering your four parts of muscles around your mouth and thinking about the strength to go toward front. It might be easier to get the idea of centering, by imagining a bird's beak which is always toward front, or as a kiss but without pouting or flipping lips out. (figure3.)

For strengthening these four muscles, a simple exercise can be applied in daily practice. As figure 2 shown to us, muscles from each corner of your mouth push toward the center at the same time until it can't be more tense. Keep this tension until fatigue then take a break. Remember, no pouting or flipping lips out during this practice. Do this exercise several rounds a day to keep establishing the shape of your mouth and strengthening the muscles. A good embouchure is the foundation for horn player who wish to be able to play high notes easily and improve strength and endurance.



Yi Man is professor of horn at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and principal horn in Hang Zhou Philharmonic Orchestra.

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