Air Flow and Lip Placement Help

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by SUB, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. SUB

    SUB New Friend

    Feb 17, 2012
    I started playing trumpet last August. I went to an instructor every week for 4 months and have been learning on my own since December. Unfortunately, I just discovered that my lip placement does not seem to be right, which is causing me trouble hitting higher and lower notes. From what I've read, air flow from the lips should be going straight out in front of me. I didn't know this when I first started, and developed a habit of tucking my bottom lip in and blowing down across my bottom lip. When I buzz my lips, I can feel the air stream on my chin.

    Anyway, I'd like to correct this ASAP. I've done some breathing exercises by blowing air straight out, and practicing with the mouthpiece. I'm getting a new instructor this week to help, but does anyone have some advice?

    This is so frustrating because I spent so much time learning the wrong way and felt I was playing fairly well, but I hit a wall because I had to use pressure from the mouthpiece to play high notes, which killed my chops.

  2. BustedChops

    BustedChops Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 1, 2011
    Its normal. High notes often suggest we need more mouthpiece pressure. I am in your same boat. It's hard to avoid using pressure to get get the high notes. Also pay attention to your neck...When you approach the upper register the tendons in your neck might pop out, your face turns red etc...It's as if you finished taking a huge bowel movement.

    This is why all the great players encourage us to use our air and not your chops. It's best to let your instructor help you find your comfortable settings. There is a term "upstream" "downstream" embochure. I suggest you let your instructure help you fine tune your chops.

    Lip placement differs for everybody. Not everybody can play with a perfect centered smiling embochure. I had many arguements with my band director over my off center placement. I did have great trouble with the upper register but I was a solid 3rd/lower register player who always hit each note with good tone. Eventually my teacher stopped telling me where to put my lips and complimented me on my tone.

    I was the only player in my range group who had good tone and intonation. It's best to focus on good tone and not worry so much about screaming upper rangister. Much of the greatest concert works do not require you to hit the highs like a contemporary note pounder like Maynard. The important thing is to work with what you've got and get your tone as consistent as possible.

    High notes are difficult...but have you ever tried to triple tongue any notes well bellow staff...Good luck...
  3. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    TIA, it is presently premature for any of us to suggest remedy, giving your new instructor a chance. All I can say is that you've already stated two problems as are a no no: 1, air flow direction and 2. "left elbow" pressure to attain a higher note.
  4. SUB

    SUB New Friend

    Feb 17, 2012
    Thanks for the advice both of you!
  5. AKtrumpet

    AKtrumpet Piano User

    Jun 4, 2010
    Everyone has their own recipe for success - there's nothing necessarily wrong with anything you're doing. That's why you rarely see consensus in the trumpet world over a specific way of playing.

    I can't say this for sure but I would venture to guess that there is nothing wrong with your chops, your mind and lack of habit is messing them up (You've been playing less than a year, give yourself a break, and remember your register is only one piece in the puzzle to successful playing). High register is no more physical than low, it should be as easy and sound just as good. Don't make such an issue of it.

    This habit must be worked out and will eventually go away, however there is only one way to get rid of this bad habit, and that is to apply concepts of sound every day in your playing.

    Also, you said you'd like to correct your problem "ASAP". Well don't count on it, trumpet playing takes time and repetition to form good habits.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  6. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Sub,you asked for advice so here it is, listen to your new teacher. Like AK said it "takes time and repetion to form good habits". What you described sounds like more of a breathing issue,not a lip or air direction problem.
  7. SUB

    SUB New Friend

    Feb 17, 2012
    Thanks all. I understand it takes time to develop good habits. I meant that I wanted to get started on fixing any bad habits ASAP. :) This all makes me feel a little better about where I'm at now, but we'll see after I have my next lesson.
  8. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    Sub, most players blow a little downsream when they play. I don't know where you got the idea that the air goes Straight out from the lips. But where ever you got it ignore anything else thay say. Don't try and fix things until you are with your teacher. That's what they are there for. You'll just try and fix something that doesn't need fixing ( airs tream) or worry about something that really isn't a problem.

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