Embouchure and playing other instruments

Does playing another wind instrument affect your embouchure

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Do you think that playing another wind instrument can adversely affect your embouchure?
I have just got back from Church where I play clarinet in the worship group and I think that if anything it strengthens my embouchure and is certainly so different from bass that it doesn't do any harm

My conductor who teaches me EEb bass is against me playing any other instrument, he knows about me playing clarinet but I usually keep quiet about guesting for other bands on BBb bass as I also get into trouble for that.

I know that music students often play several different instrument to a high standard so it obviously isn't thought to do them any damage.

What is your experience?


Active Member
hmmm, it really does depend on the instruments involved, for example, while playing sop one week, then Bbb bass the next is possible, and i've seen it done, I think it would have an adverse affect on both instruments, whereas playing EEb bass one week, and clarinet the next should have little negative difference. while playing clarinet may or may not strengthen your muscles, it will give them a rest, which will allow them to rebuild etc, and become stronger.


I also play clarinet too, it uses different muscles to a brass instrument, so in a way it shouldn't affect brass playing, it shoud give the muscles a rest, as Neil said.

By the way like the addition to the avatar!


Active Member
I think it is a brass band falacy about embertoures. The army bands throw players all over the shop and they cope no problem. There are several players who can play brass and woodwind and they tend to do a better job than others who just stick to brass.

satchmo shaz

Active Member
I say do it if you want to! life is too short!, I'm sure you can adapt. I know people who successfully play woodwind and brass!


Well-Known Member
Many people get their knickers in a twist over this issue. As far as I can see, if you have a decent understanding of what you're doing to produce the sound, and you're thinking about what is different and what is similar when you play a new instrument, you are very unlikely to run into problems. I suspect a person adding a new instrument that gets into difficulties does so because they've suddenly reduced the amount of time they spend on their first instrument. You've just got to be clear in your own mind as to what you're doing/trying to do; so in this way, trying two brass instruments at different ends of the pitch spectrum might allow you to differentiate more clearly than trying two that were close together. A Bass player bruising their lip by jamming a Cornet into their teeth will still hae a knackered lip on Bass though!



Active Member
I play flute as well as brass and if anything, playing brass has helped my flute playing enormously - much more breath control and tone production is easier - probably cos you make more of a seal on brass instruments!

Rach x
I used to play sax. I got to grade 4 and could have gone higher.

I think quitting sax helped me, but at the end of the day I could have continued with French Horn, Tenor Horn and sax and been perfectly happy.


Staff member
Hilary Mateer said:
My conductor who teaches me EEb bass is against me playing any other instrument, he knows about me playing clarinet but I usually keep quiet about guesting for other bands on BBb bass as I also get into trouble for that.

As someone whose first instrument is saxophone, I have never had any major problems with embouchure, having played all instruments in the band from tenor horn down at various times. Thinking about others I know who double on brass and woodwind, I wonder if it is significant that most of the reed players seem to be bass or euphonium players, whereas I know a number of flautists who also play cornet - we had a flute solo in our service last night played by one of our solo cornettists.

The only thing I wish is that, when I am asked to play saxophone on a band programme, a little consideration is given as to whereabouts it is placed. A number of times I have been asked to play a solo immediately after a heavy-blowing band piece, that does not give you any time to adjust, or to ensure the instrument is properly warmed-up.

Incidentally, the most varied evening I have been asked to do was at a Salvation Army Junior School of Music some years ago. They had asked those of us who were there as sergeants to help out on the bass section so I was playing BBb, with Ray Wheaton, then playing cornet in the ISB, on EEb. When they put the "A" band together there were three very good horn players, and then a big drop in standard, so they decided to put two on solo horn and one on first, with one of the tutors helping out on first and me on second. When the final programme came round, I was playing BBb in the individual and massed bands, 2nd horn in the"A" band, and a saxophone solo as well!


Hi Hilary,

I used to play flute and was told that i should never mix brass and woodwind but i never had any problems. It's a completely different kind of embouchure for woodwind because there's little/no physical pressure on the upper lip. I'm not sure that mixing brass is a good idea because of the different pressure distribution of varying size mouthpieces (spot the scientist...)

I didn't give up flute because of embouchure problems, just because i was rubbish! Keep going with clarinet, if anything it should compliment your bass playing!



My daughter plays tenor horn and her teacher wants her to play french horn as well, but someone told me it could effect her embouchure because of the different mouthpiece, so not sure what to do now
Mel, I'd say give it a shot. It's not bad for all people. And if she does want to continue French Horn, she could always use a shank. I didn't want to use a shank on the tenor horn until I was sure that french horn is what I wanted to do :)

Ps, ex principal of NYBBW uses a shank, she obviously has no problems!


I had a friend at school that took up the Euphonium in order to join the brass band, which was far and away the coolest music group in the school. She was an oboe player at the time and great disasters for her more than competent playing ability on that instrument were predicted. In the event, she turned out to be a pretty good euph player and her oboe playing improved no end. Not quite sure of the reason why, as oboe players need pretty breath control anyway - I tried to play one once and I swear the b**dy thing was attempting to blow back!


Active Member
if you can adjust to the french horn mouthpiece aswell as a tenor horn mouthpiece then thats fine...
i would avoid playing tenor horn on a french horn mouthpiece with adapter.. as.. although it works so to speak, it leaves you with a harsh sound and production.


Active Member
...and you would know all about harsh sound and production Aidan! :wink:

You just make it too easy sometimes, you really do!


My sister is a bit of a swot......she always used to play the flute, she decided this wasn't enough so started to learn other woodwind instruments (clarinet, sax etc). Then she thought she'd follow me and have a go at a brass instrument so she came to band one night. She now plays Solo Euphonium for a First Section band. She doesn't have any adverse effects from playing the variety of instruments she does....I think she enjoys the change. I find it really annoying though......!!!


Be all that as it may you two, if one can do it one can. If not, one cant.

Bit obvious really. My daughter seems to swap between clarinet and Cornet OK, I swap too bewteen various and the difference seems to be a) how much of a "brass bandsman" one is (its a mind thing) and b) how much one practices.

To me anyway, thats how it appears.



Active Member
Multiple Tubas etc.

I play a variety of instruments ....

* Eb Bass (reading Treble Clef) in a Brass Band
* Eb Bass (reading from Bb Bass parts in Bass Clef) in the same Brass Band when Bb Bass players are missing
* BBb tuba, CC tuba, Eb tuba and/or F tuba (Bass Clef) in an orchestra
* Valve Trombone (Bass Clef) filling in in a Brass Quintet
* Tenor Trombone with F Attachment (Bass or Tenor Clef) in an orchestra

I found out on Monday that in an orchestra concert later this month, in addition to conducting two numbers (while the regular conductor plays the piano), I will also be playing BBb tuba, Bass Trombone and Euphonium on other numbers.

The embouchure isn't the problem, it's getting all those fingerings confused! :shock:

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