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QuestionsCategory: Bassoon FundamentalsEmbouchure problems
Alvin asked 6 months ago
Hi Alexandre!
First of all, I want to thank you for your lessons. I really find your courses helpful!
But here is my problem.
When I play long phrases (especially high notes) on the bassoon, My cheeks begin to hurt. right now I am working on a piece called “Tarantella” by Ludwig Milde, where I have problems playing the piece because my cheeks start to hurt.
I think it is because I have developed a wrong embouchure, where I tighten my cheeks to reach the high notes. It is actually really annoying, and I want to fix that.
I have already seen your videos about embouchure, but I was wondering if I could get some advice to avoid tighten your cheeks while playing, and also some tips to improve my embouchure?
I really hope somebody can help me
P.S. I have a attached a file, to highlight where my problem is
Greetings from Denmark,

3 Answers
Alexandre Silvério Staff answered 5 months ago
Hey Dear Alvin,
How are you, my friend? I hope well…
Sorry, your question was hidden here on the website waiting for an “approval”… I don’t know why… but now we can read it, it’s fixed!
About your question: actually it would be better if you make a short video or at least a picture of your embouchure.
BUT maybe the problem is not in your mouth, maybe the problem is in the reed.  Maybe your reed is too hard? The reed’s opening (in the tip) is more than 1,5 mm?
Let’s keep this conversation open, and please if is possible give me more details, so we can find where the problem is!
Best regards,

Alvin answered 5 months ago
Hi, again Alexandre. I’m good, despite the circumstances we’re facing
I don’t think the problem is in the reed. I don’t make my reeds myself, because I have a very sweet teacher that makes that for me. I have checked my reeds to be sure, and all my reeds are under 1,5 mm.
My cheeks don’t hurt when I play high notes for a short amount of time. The problem is when I play for a long time, and my cheeks begin to hurt. I think it’s because I use my cheeks to help me reach the high notes.
Right now I have braces on my teeth. maybe that could be a factor?
My teacher also says it has to do with how much air I use when I play and using my stomach to support my airflow.
I have a link to an album on Google photos, so you can see how I play, and how my embouchure looks:

I hope you’re doing good!
Greetings from Alvin

Alexandre Silvério
Staff replied 5 months ago

Hey Alvin,

Thanks for sending me your video and pictures, it’s very helpful to understand where your problem with embouchure is.
Braces probably help to hurt your cheeks/embouchure. I had some students that also used braces, and I remember that some of them reported pain in their embouchures.
I agree with your teacher: Air support.
The more you use your diaphragm, the less you will need to engage your mouth/cheeks.
By looking at your pictures and watching your video, it looks like you are biting your reed. Try to think about your embouchure as if you were going to whistle and keep that shape in your mouth. Do not let your lips spread! Think about using more airspeed and letting the air travel through the bassoon but without engaging your lips so much in the process.

Let me know if that makes sense and if it worked for you.

Hope you are well!


Alvin answered 5 months ago
Hey Alexandre! 
Thank you for your amazing guidance. Your tips helped a lot, but I finally found what my problem is.
Because I was so frustrated about my embouchure, I rewatched one of your “embouchure lessons”. While watching, I realized I was doing something wrong.
I don’t lean my upper lip on the reed at all. Instead, my lower lip did all the work, and for some reason, it causes a lot of pain in my cheeks when I play high notes, etc. It is a problem I have struggled with for some years, and I have discussed it many times with my teacher.
So I just wanna thank you, and I am very grateful for your wonderful lessons!
P.S. How long have you been playing bassoon, and how old are you? I am by the way 16 years old!
Alexandre Silvério
Staff replied 5 months ago

Hey Alvin,
What good news!! Amazing, man…
I’m very happy that you found what was the problem!!!

So, I play bassoon since I was 14 years old. Now I’m 44 Years Old. 30 years playing bassoon! It’s a lot of time…But I’m always passionate about the bassoon sound.

Hey man, you live in Denmark. I have never been there yet. I want to visit it in the future, It looks to be an amazing country…

Have a nice Sunday!