minstrel: Re: shawm embouchere (Mary Hodges)
bwebb at inf.ed.ac.uk
Fri Nov 11 02:25:57 PST 2005
> My shawm was made by John Hanchet. It's an alto Spanish shawm in F,
> that's the F below middle C. It has a two piece pirouette. The more I
> play it the more I like it, except that it's almost too big for my hands
> (and I have big hands, for a woman). I just barely got this one, and I
> now I want a C instrument.
I have a Hanchet Spanish C shawm. They are definitely made to be played
using the pirouette to support the mouth, while the lips support the reed.
I hope you are getting the hang of it. I find it helps a lot to soak the
top part of the reed in water for a minute or so before playing (i.e. put
it upside down in a glass with a little water in the bottom). I've also
noticed that the Spanish shawm design seems to produce a more trumpet-like
tone than my other shawms - not quite as clear, but very pleasant in its
> I've never played a reed instrument before, unless you count the harmonica.
Then practice will definitely make a big difference! A little every day...
One tip is that I've seen many amateur shawm players who tend to play with
the shawm end pointed down; whereas most professionals play with it
pointed well up (i.e. the shawn is held almost horizontal to the
ground). I find this helps the embouchere and tone. Playing standing
up can also help.
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