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The Mouthpiece Test
When testing mouthpieces, personally or with students, you should first listen for a comfortable, free response. Play a slow scale or passage, both slurred and articulated.
Is the sound produced easily? Is it possible to slur and articulate clearly, without struggle?
If the response is too difficult, consider trying a closer (less resistant) mouthpiece facing, or a lower strength reed.
If the response is too easy, consider trying a more open (more resistant) mouthpiece facing, or a higher strength reed.
Next, consider the core and quality of the sound. It's important not to sacrifice a centered sound for ease of response. Both attributes are possible, with the correct marriage of reed strength and mouthpiece facing.
If the sound is spread or lacks center, consider trying a higher strength reed or a more open (more resistant mouthpiece facing).
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