5 Ways to Make a Beautiful Sound: Woodwinds

Let’s not kid ourselves: the only way to improve is to practice. But sometimes, your student’s tone, the sound quality, pitch, and strength, is hard to handle. Over time they’ll develop the tools to self-diagnose and improve tone on their own. Until then try some of these techniques, or check out our equipment to improve on a budget.

1. Check your embouchure.

Tired students pay less attention to their embouchure: the way the connect their mouth to the mouthpiece.

Single Reeds

Firm, but relaxed. The corners of the mouth are pointed, the upper lip works as suction, while the lower lip should be relaxed and rolled out.

Double Reeds

Firm, but not tense. The embouchure is rounded, with equal pressure from all sides of the lip and teeth are separated.


Slightly pinched corners, with the bottom lip relaxed. Say the word “pooh” while blowing air into the flute and roll the headpiece down into its position to reset.

2. Think about your air.

A common beginner’s mistake is to blow lots of air to make pitch, but overblowing means honking. Use faster air instead of more air: Push the air through a smaller space for more concentrated air. Try blowing through a straw to feel the difference. To make fast air, keep the tongue in a high position. If you meow like a cat, you can feel it!

3. Are you articulating well?

A correct articulation means clarity of sound, which means a better tone. Use just the tip of the tongue to articulate.

4. Adjust your posture.

You cannot breathe by sitting hunched over! Sit or stand up straight and give your body the chance to breathe. After that, check your instrument’s posture. It needs to be aligned correctly for air to pass through.

5. Change your equipment.

If all else fails, try changing the reed. It could be old, warped, or broken, and a different (broken in) reed may make a difference. Or change the ligature: the clamp on the mouthpiece that holds the reed. It could be too tight or too loose.


Developing a good tone will take lots of practice, but use these methods throughout your rehearsal and you can start to see results! If you’d like more guidance, give us a call. We’re happy to help, and have private teachers in Normal, Champagin, and Springfield that can give you more guidance in lessons. Happy playing!