How to Mute a Reed in Jazz

In jazz music, when a woodwind player wishes to mute a reed, he will use his tongue. This is more effective and provides a stronger response than attempting to cut off the air column. Using the tongue to mute a reed instantly stops the sound and allows the performer to quickly continue playing. Saxophone and jazz clarinet players will benefit from learning the correct way to mute a reed in jazz music. 

Step 1 Create a strong and tight embouchure with your mouth that securely wraps around the reed. A correct embouchure will keep the cheeks taught and use the muscles around your mouth to control the pressure. It takes some practice to develop a good embouchure, especially for jazz music.

Step 2 Play the instrument as you normally would. If you are a beginner, you will need to develop your tone on the instrument before you attempt to mute a reed in jazz music.

Step 3 Determine where the best place to stop the reed with your tongue is. Aim for the middle of the reed. Don't go too low beneath the reed; that will not effectively mute the sound. Going too high will bend and break the reed, making it unusable. Play around with different positions until you get the sound you are looking for.

Step 4 Practice each day to improve your ability to mute a reed in jazz music. To perform accurately, you will need to be able to perform this technique perfectly and on command. It will take quite a bit of practice to become consistent.


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