Have you ever heard that you can’t play piccolo because of your lip shape? Don’t believe those lies; you can learn how to play piccolo with a teardrop lip.
I’ve done it, and I’m not the only one. Read on for some tips to help you learn to get an excellent sound on the smaller flute.
What Is a Teardrop Lip?
A teardrop lip is another term for a cupid’s bow. It’s basically where the top lip has more of a downward slope in the middle, so it looks like the bow from a bow and arrow or like a teardrop.
Many flute and piccolo players have them, including myself. In the past, it was thought that you couldn’t play the flute or piccolo with that sort of lip shape.
Fortunately, times have changed, and your anatomy doesn’t have to hold you back from playing an instrument you love.
Use an Offset Embouchure
If you find you have a teardrop lip, you can play piccolo with an offset embouchure. Instead of placing the instrument right in the middle along your bottom lip, you put it off to the side.
Ideally, you’d put it off to the left side so that the flute is closer to you. This can come in handy when playing the C flute as well as the alto or other larger flutes.
Even with the piccolo, it helps bring the instrument closer to your face. However, I play off to the right, and I haven’t had a huge problem with that setup.
Consider a Wave Headjoint
Another excellent tip for how to play piccolo with a teardrop lip is to try a wave headjoint. Unlike a traditional headjoint, the wave style can help direct your air into the instrument.
I’ve used a piccolo with a wave headjoint since 2017, and I love it. Now, the style isn’t for everyone, so you might still prefer a traditional cut.
However, it never hurts to try a wave style headjoint if you can. That way, you can make sure you’re getting the best possible sound out of your instrument.
Look for a Square Cut
If you want to use a traditional headjoint, try to find one with a more square embouchure hole. I’ve found that a square or rectangular hole is easier for me to direct my air into.
That’s true for both my piccolo and my C flute. As you compare piccolos and headjoints, pay attention to the shape of the embouchure hole.
Try a few different styles if you can to see which responds best to you. But don’t be afraid to try newer designs and styles so that you can make a good sound.
Practice Your Flute
One of the best things that can help your piccolo playing is playing your regular flute. Specifically, I’d recommend practicing the second and third octaves of the flute.
They correspond to the first and second octaves of the piccolo in terms of the sounding pitch. You also need to use a very similar embouchure for those octaves.
If you can get a good sound in the second and third octaves of the flute, you should be able to easily translate that embouchure to the piccolo.
Experiment as Needed
As you start to play piccolo with a teardrop lip, you may need to experiment a bit. Sure, you can try an offset embouchure, but you may need to test out a few specific spots.
That way, you can figure out which position is best for your instrument and your lips. For better or worse, you might need to do this every time you get a new headjoint or piccolo.
However, it’s worth it to make sure you can get a good, clear sound. After all, you don’t want to feed into the stereotypes that the piccolo only ever sounds shrill, right?
Don’t Forget Alternate Fingerings
If you want to play piccolo with a teardrop lip, you may need to use more alternate fingerings. These are fingerings outside of the traditional set that you first learn when you start the flute.
You can review a fingering chart for some ideas, but don’t be afraid to come up with your own. Use a tuner to make sure the fingerings you select sound in tune.
Then, you can make note of the fingerings that work for you and your piccolo. Be sure to use those whenever you play the piccolo and can’t get the standard fingerings to work.
Play Piccolo With a Teardrop Lip
If you have a prominent cupid’s bow like I do, you may feel frustrated by your tone. Luckily, you can learn how to play piccolo with a teardrop lip and sound great.
Be sure to test out different embouchures and headjoint cuts. That way, you can find a setup that works for you and your anatomy.
As you test out different settings, be sure to use a piccolo fingering chart to make sure you play all of the right notes.