Several comments on my post "Practice Ideas" merit repeating.
My old clarinet friend from Interlochen days, Diana Haskell, and now 2nd in the St. Louis Symphony asked-
What shape do you think of when you inhale, and do you think another shape while actually blowing (exhale). Also, do you change the shape of your tongue while blowing in order to change either air speed or color or both? Just curious, I'm doing an informal poll. I've always thought of an eeeooooo sound and have kept the back of the tongue higher in the mouth, but am rethinking that a bit. Am also trying to think about whether or not my tongue shape is different on inhale than exhale. Any thoughts?
I don't think shape when inhaling, just open sinuses and relaxed throat. Exhale, when playing, I think "aae" so back of tongue is fairly high. (not mid or front, not eee).
I found that saying "yaw" just before playing gets everything lined up nicely. Jaw open, round embouchure, tongue floating up, soft palette up.... I'd like to know what other versions you find...
Then Twitter friend CornodiBassetto (David Irwin) asked-
Good discussion. I usually have my students voice "ehyou" just before playing. and I'll try your "yaw,' as it probably prevents pinching/biting the reed. I usually tell them to keep the tongue as forward as possible and in the "ee" position, so I'm interested to know why "aae" instead.
The vowel "aae" came from my colleague Robert (Woody) Jones, who plays second in the Columbus Symphony, and studied with Robert Marcellus. Woody said when he finally got the sound Marcellus was after him to get, it was by saying that vowel 'aae" rather than the usual "eee".
I also have found that the critical voicing of tone is done further back than I had thought. "Aae" also helps free up the front of the tongue, and doesn't choke the sound as often happens, especially to people with big tongues like myself, when cramming it all up top to say "eee".
The "yaw" allows the tongue to float up in back while relaxing the jaw and opening up the front.