Instrumental Tips for Your Students

The simplest suggestion may make a big difference! Read the suggestions below and see if there is something that you might have overlooked or forgotten. Do not be afraid to try something new!


  1. Flute parallel with lips.
  2. Flute to head, not head to flute.
  3. Relaxed embouchure, slight frown.
  4. Flat fingers, do not over reach!
  5. Open mouth and throat. Create a full tone.
  6. To raise pitch, adjust jaw forward, or roll flute out.
  7. To lower pitch, drop jaw, or roll in flute.
  8. Tuning problem? Double check position of head cork.


  1. Head up.
  2. Chin down flat, corners back.
  3. Do not overwrap bottom lip.
  4. Fingers flat, angled down.
  5. Tongue light, quick.
  6. Upper teeth on mouthpiece.
  7. Embouchure firm, clarinet in center of mouth.
  8. Squeaks? Try less mouthpiece, check reed for chips, cracks, warped etc.


  1. Lower jaw, somewhat relaxed.
  2. Tongue lightly.
  3. Fill horn with air, practice extreme dynamics.
  4. Sax to mouth, not mouth to sax-adjust sax strap to bring the horn to correct position.
  5. Sit up straight, head up, not sideways.


  1. Reed placed between lips which are slightly rolled in over the teeth.
  2. Lips close around the reed, no leaks.
  3. Lips firm, do not pinch, allow the reed to vibrate.
  4. Tip of the tongue touches reed when tonguing.


  1. Lips are pushed forward, not rolled over teeth.
  2. Do not pinch!
  3. Allow lower jaw to recede, upper teeth forward-overbite position.
  4. Sit upright, bring bassoon to mouth.
  5. Use strap that works best for you-Seat strap or neck strap.


  1. Head up.
  2. Position mouthpiece 50/50 (half upper lip, half lower).
  3. Light pressure, do not pinch.
  4. Chin flat.
  5. Tongue lightly.
  6. Open throat, horn parallel with floor.
  7. Fill horn with air, do not overblow!
  8. Trumpet supported by the left hand.
  9. Finger tips on valve buttons for best fingering technique.

French Horn

  1. Two thirds, upper lip, one third, lower.
  2. Pressure more on lower lip.
  3. Do not suck in lower lip. 4. Head up, BLOW!
  4. Sit forward in the chair, face director.
  5. Back of right hand against bell.
  6. Use right hand to help regulate pitch (intermediate/advanced level).


  1. Open lips-Space between.
  2. Blow!
  3. Trombone-relaxed wrist, quick.
  4. Do not puff cheeks!
  5. Open throat.

Excellent Suggestions for Everyone

  1. Be patient! Success takes time
  2. Practice, Practice, Practice!
  3. Due diligence-if something doesn’t come right away, move on and come back to it later.
  4. Experiment-if something doesn’t work for you, try a new technique, position, mouthpiece, reed etc.
  5. Question experts-can’t figure it out? Consult a recognized professional.
  6. Practice dynamics regularly (softs & louds) The best musicians can play any selection at any volume with ease.
  7. Take lessons! One lesson is better than none. Get someone who can help you start correctly. Bad habits will limit your success, and they are hard to break!
  8. Practice all tempos. Many people can play notes quickly. A professional can also play it slowly with expression.
  9. Practice different styles of music. Jazz, classical, rock, pop, folk, sacred. It will make you a better, well-rounded musician and improve your technique.
  10. Proficiency with scales will improve your technique.