Many musicians physically develop around their instruments, and this can occasionally result in physical problems. For example, string players may develop asymmetrical muscle development in their left and right arms due to the demands of their instrument. Wind players may experience breathing difficulties or tension in the neck and shoulders from holding their instrument for extended periods.

For clarinet players, the physical evolution can be particularly dynamic inside the mouth. Especially the structure of the bite goes through changes throughout the entire life, causing some problems without any warning in moments you wouldn't expect. For instance, it is very common amongst clarinet players (but also many other woodwind instruments) to have an uncentered embouchure, as a direct consequence of the incisor’s asymmetry. This disregarded issue, when accompanied by a malocclusion [1], can result in pain in one or more of the front teeth, dental mobility, jaw problems, tension, pain, and uncontrollable muscular vibrations. Moreover, it engenders a time-consuming search for the sweet spot to comfortably generate the best sound.

[1] A malocclusion is a non-ideal arrangement of the teeth.

It is a well-known fact that many musicians go through numerous anatomical changes during their lives, and these changes can have a significant impact on their relationship with their instrument. In fact, if we take a moment to consider that most instrumentalists who are currently performing at a prestigious level began playing their instrument during their childhood, we can easily list a variety of bodily changes that they have experienced from the beginning to the peak of their career.

An Ambouchure Aid for Wind Musicians

Giuseppe Sapienza

Master in Classical Clarinet (SN: 3164403)

20 February 2023

Royal Conservatoire The Hague

Research Supervison: Wouter Verschuren


Research Question: 

Is it possible to create an embouchure support device for clarinet players which corrects dental irregularities therefore facilitating sound production?