Jaimie Lee Mendoes - flute expert

Dealing with your Flute Embouchure

Tips to approach and develop your embouchure technique

Welcoming our new flute expert Jaimie Lee Mendoes, in her first video lesson, she's going to show you how to approach and deal with your flute embouchure (also known as "mouth piece") with very clear and practical tips. Enjoy this first video from our new, very talented flute expert!

Released on April 6, 2016

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hello, everyone, this is Jaimie Lee Mendoes, the new flute expert on virtualsheetmusic.com. Thank you for tuning in today, and if you are watching this video on YouTube then please make sure to visit virtualsheetmusic.com/experts/jaimie in order to leave a question or a comment for me. Today we're going to talk about the flute embouchure, which is the perfect topic to talk about in the first video in my opinion because it is one of the most important and foundational aspect of flute playing. In the end, it doesn't really matter how fast you can move your fingers if you can't produce a beautiful sound. So without any further ado, let's jump right in.

For the exercise I'm going to show you today, all you need is the head joint. But first, let's talk about why it is so important to have a good embouchure in order to play the flute well. Well, the flute embouchure is very different from other wind instruments embouchures. If you think about other woodwind instruments like the oboe, the clarinet, or the bassoon, they all have reeds that you stick inside your mouth. If you think about brass instruments, like the trumpet, the trombone, or the french horn, they all have a mouth piece that have full contact with both lips. But what about the flute? We have a hole that we cover, a portion of it, with our lower lip, while our upper lip is completely on its own without touching the instrument in any way. So this is why it is so important to be able to manipulate the muscles around your mouth and make a good embouchure for each note.

Yes, it seems like we have extra work to do as a flute player, but that's what makes this instrument so special and unique. And you are playing that special instrument, so you should be proud of it. So I zoomed in a little bit in order to show you this action a little bit more clearly. So don't be alarmed. So the first thing to do is to stick your lower lip out and frown. To me, it kind of looks like a frog or a toad. But anyhow, so this is the default mouth shape you want to make. I'm sure you can already tell, the flute embouchure is not very pretty looking. And you are right, it is not the most attractive looking thing. But if you think about all the flute legends like Marcel Moyse, William Bennett, James Galway, all these people have deep wrinkles coming down from nose to the edges of their mouth. And that is just very naturally occurring wrinkle from being a flutist. So let's proudly embrace those wrinkles.

So once again, stick your lower lip out and frown. So from here, we are going to put the head joint right on the lower lip. You can cover the hole here with your palm like so. Or you can just leave it open. I personally like to cover because that brings the pitch down and that's easier on my ears. So I just cover it this way and make the embouchure. And then blow right across. This is not, we are not at the good embouchure yet. This is just the first step to take. So. Yeah, so as you can hear, it doesn't sound quite as rich and dense. So this is just the default setting. And from here, what you want to do is put a little more pressure around this area so that you can send more air down into the tube, and not so much out across. So.

Yeah, so now you can hear more dense sound coming out of the head joint. Now if you can make this sound, then now you have a good embouchure. So this can be quite tricky, especially for beginners. But that's just because you don't have strong enough muscles around here yet. So if you keep working on it then you will get it one day. If you have a teacher or somebody who can watch your embouchure while you practice, that would be great. If you don't have anybody around you then a mirror can be your best friend. So you can compare my embouchure with yours so that you can see in the mirror. So let me show you one more time without the head joint. Yeah, so this is what you want to do.

So once you are secure with that then try going higher. So it's a leap. So in order to do that, you want to stick your lower lip out a little more. And then you want to put even more pressure here. So let me show you first. So what this does is if you practice this enough then you can play octaves or even bigger register changes very, very smoothly and cleanly, especially in legato markings. It's even more difficult to make that smooth line from a lower note to a higher note. And this will definitely help. Let me show you my embouchure change without the head joint. Yeah? So as you can see, my lower lip comes out slightly more and then I put even more pressure here. The reason why we need more pressure here is because without that the air will just go across somewhere in the room, in the hall. And that's not the result we want, right? We want the air to go straight into the tube. So one more time let me show you.

There are many different exercises you can do just with the head joint. Like we did today, an embouchure exercise, breathing exercise, vibrato exercise, the list goes on. This is not the most popular and common way to learn the flute in the United States, but this was and still is a very prevalent method in Europe. I was lucky enough to learn this from my very first flute teacher who studied in Europe for more than ten years. In fact, these head joints exercises were the only thing I did for quite a long time until I was allowed to touch the rest of the flute. This just goes to show how important this stuff is, right? Well, thank you again for tuning in today. And if you have any questions or particular piece or topic that you would like me to cover in a video, then leave a comment on virtualsheetmusic.com, not on YouTube because I will not be able to see them. If you would like to learn more about me, then you can visit my website, mrsflute.com and connect with me there as well. Well, I hope you have a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
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User Comments and Questions

Comments, Questions, Requests:

Bong on February 6, 2017 @10:37 am PST
Helped me more than any of other videos because i was having hard time getting good embouchure. Thanks.
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