Advice on mouthpiece positioning.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Rickyroughneck, May 17, 2012.

  1. Rickyroughneck

    Rickyroughneck Pianissimo User

    Apr 22, 2012
    Dear trumpeters, I have searched on the subject and useful information is either very sparse, or too generic to be of use.

    I have a very low mouthpiece positioning, I currently use a Bach 1 1/4 C (which is 40+ years old!) and the the cup sits predominantly on the lower lip, so much so that the top of the mouthpiece sits just below my upper lip line. In addition to that to play trumpet I have got into the habit of pulling my jaw and lower lip back which results in a lot of overbite and I end up pointing the trumpet a lot further down than any other trumpeters I have seen. The overall result is the pressure is focused on my top lip itself and causes it to deform over the course of a practice, limiting endurance.

    I am wondering if this could be a contributing factor to my stamina and range issues? I generally practice 20-30 minutes a day but can only comfortably get an A above the stave and just about reach a high C.

    I have been trying to push my chin forward which can take some of the pressure off my top lip which seems to help, but any attempts to move the mouthpiece to a more normal position are really difficult.

    I will try and seek tuition but I had a few lessons over Easter which weren't that helpful: "pinch at the edges and blow harder", so I expect I will need to see a teacher more specialised. Can anyone give advice on whether I should persist with altering my mouthpiece position?
  2. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    Your top lip sounds fine. Your piece is probably larger than it needs to be.

    Try something smaller like a 3 to 7 size and see if that helps. I'm fond of the Schilke 14 and play on Curry 3 rims myself.

  3. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    From what you write I suspect you are using a lot of pressure, as I can remember pointing my trumpet too low and mashing my top lip when I was a boy (Still a boy, just 25 years older) which restricted my endurance and range. The difference was my positioning was (and is) fairly symmetrical between top and bottom.

    No doubt you will get better responses than this one, but in recent times I've come across videos from Greg Spence which you may find informative.
    Here is his website: Yamaha trumpet artist Greg Spence offers you trumpet books free video trumpet lessons how to play the trumpet demonstrations articles the world's first trumpet eBook for beginner trumpet players who are learning how to play the trumpet this online tr

  4. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Some great advice above. My question is... Does the mouthpiece you ultimately use (or utimately as we spell it here on TM) feel comfortable to you? I like the idea of going to a music store, borrowing a few sizes and playing on them. Find the one that feels best to you. And play relaxed and comfortably.
    bumblebee likes this.
  5. bach37

    bach37 Pianissimo User

    Dec 1, 2011
    1.) Get a teacher for lessons.
    2.)Don't worry about mouthpiece placement. It goes where is goes. (A good teacher will fix if there are any problems.)
    3.)I don't know how long you have been playing or what your playing. 3c is a great over all mouthpiece. 1 1/2c is a great over all mouthpiece as well. Get with a good teacher and ask their opinion.
    4.) Takes air to play high notes. RELAXED air. Tension is the cause of the higher notes not coming out. ( Again get with a teacher.)
    5.) There is no silver bullet. Internet forums with help get you started in the right direction but a teacher with be with you on the journey. GET A TEACHER.
  6. CalU65

    CalU65 New Friend

    May 14, 2012
    All great replies. The teacher is the key - having someone else (whoo knows what they are doing) listen to you and observe you can really speed up the "diagnostic and cure time." You might also buy Claude Gordon's "Systematic Approach to Daily Practice" - great book for what you described and also read "The Art of Brass Playing" by Philip Farkas (the first 23 pages will really help you understand what's going on). Good luck, I'm in the same boat.
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Embouchure advice on the internet is not helpful as no one sees, hears or senses how you really play. Changing anything
    based on "guessing" has very low chance of hitting the jackpot.

    The ONLY advice that I give on the internet is NOT to change anything that you "see". Get working on better breathing, better body use and then get a real daily routine that starts with long tones, lipslurs and easy tunes. If the trumpet player has a steady diet of this stuff, the entire body improves through "evolution" instead of the crap shoot with REVOLUTION.

    Do yourself a favor: invest in stuff with proven results. Embouchure changes can take 2 years and have NO GUARANTEES. Evolution ALWAYS improves the player. If your chops start getting into the groove with lipslurs, they are not "fixed" in any specific position and can freely migrate to a more efficient position.

    The second thing that I NEVER recommend is any changes during playing season. We don't know how old you are or if you are in any ensembles. If you are in school, wait until the last band event has been played.

    Blowing harder is stupid if you are using excessive pressure. Worst case, you could pass out due to Val Salva. Pinching the corners is a very general visualization that may or may not be of any use. I call the embouchure "M-bouchure" because it is sort of like the letter M and more of a pucker than a smile.

    Players without decent routines all use pressure - because it works - up to a point. If we remove the pressure forcefully, our range and endurance disappear immediately. It stays that way until new habits are built. Those habits can be equally bad if someone in the know is not physically watching you. We can replace pressure with body tension and would be no better off than before - other than worse tone.

    The key is to build a foundation under the house of your playing. That is breathing and body use. The teacher then perscribes things like more advanced lipslurs to get the face flexible. That aids "evolution"/"migration". Easy tunes like out of a hymnbook give us a chance to reinforce what we have learned by giving the student an opportunity to "sense" what is going on by simply SLOWING DOWN.
  8. Rickyroughneck

    Rickyroughneck Pianissimo User

    Apr 22, 2012
    Thankyou for the replies! I used to use a 5C until a couple of months ago, and found I much prefer the 1 1/4 C. I found a brilliant comparison pdf for the bach mouthpieces but which also explains the individual properties. I have a 1D in the post (same size, shallower cup) to switch to for funk/ jazz songs requiring a brighter sound.

    I am trumpet three in the uni jazz band and in a ska band so the high register isn't needed so much, but it would be nice to have a higher range to open up more opportunities for soloing; and more endurance will be a huge boon too.

    Anyway i will carry on focusing on my lower jaw placement until it becomes habit (takes a bit of pressure off the top lip) and seek more focused tuition in the summer.


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