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I have been playing clarinet since 6th grade, and now I am a sophomore in high school. My band director is doing an instrument check that is for a grade. One of the things that we are required to have is a mouthpiece patch as part of the instrument check he is doing. I have never played with one since I started.

Should he require that everyone has a mouthpiece patch (single reed woodwinds) as part of the instrument check?

Does playing with a mouthpiece patch distort your embouchure while playing?

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  • no. [not to worry!] Nov 24, 2022 at 15:50
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    But as answers point out, your band director is an idiot. Next he'll be mandating the brand of reed or ligature! Nov 24, 2022 at 15:51
  • Old story: I had a clarinet teacher who played under William Revelli at Michigan. The principle clarinet liked to hand-tie ligatures out of fishing line; Revelli made the whole section do that on the theory that if it made the first chair good it'd improve everyone else. Hah. Nov 24, 2022 at 15:53

3 Answers 3

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Using a mouthpiece patch is a personal choice, except when play-testing a mouthpiece before buying it (to prevent tooth-marks on the mouthpiece). Some people like them, some people hate them but they don't change the embouchure. The 'feel' in the mouth is a bit different, and the player's perception of their own sound changes a bit since there is less sound conduction via the teeth. The player hears less of the high frequencies.

Unless the reason is to avoid damage to school-owned mouthpieces, insisting that players have them is totally unnecessary.
If the school does insist on it, a solution might be to put a patch on for the check and take it off afterwards.

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The mouthpiece patch sits on the top side of the beak, while the part of the embouchure that matters is the bottom side. If will feel a bit different though, due to the mouthpiece feeling a bit thicker and also having a different feeling on your teeth. Personally I prefer the feeling of playing with a patch, but it might just be that you prefer it the other way round. But a mouthpiece patch costs barely anything, so just try it out. If you don’t like it you can always pull if off again.

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Since the patch is stuck to the top of the mouthpiece, presumably to stop any wear occurring (probably not your clarinet - maybe you should consider obtaining your own), and really, top teeth shouldn't be digging into it anyway, there shouldn't be an embouchure problem. The top lip really acts like a 'curtain' over the top of the mouthpiece, no need to bite it!

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    The patch serves two functions, that is protecting the beck from wear (though that would mostly matter if your embouchure is bad and you bite so hard into into that it leaves dents. Also probably not good for the dents ...), the other one is to stop you from feeling the vibrations on your teeth so much. Imo the biggest disadvantage of a patch is that the edges are hard to clean and might get a bit unappetizing over time.
    – Lazy
    Nov 24, 2022 at 10:01

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