Am I headed for an embouchure disaster?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by RB-R37297, May 9, 2009.

  1. RB-R37297

    RB-R37297 Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    I'm a high school trumpet player (end of grade 11) who's been playing since Grade 7. In the last few months or so, I've taken to practicing in front of a mirror, and I'm just sort of realizing now that my embouchure might be a complete disaster. My range is okay (tops out at about F or G above high C), but my form seems awful. First things first, my front teeth are in crooked. The one on my left grew in slightly overlapping the one on my right. I've just now been noticing that my embouchure is slightly off center because of it - it's just a hair left (my left) of center. The horn still points straight, it's just off center. If I look at the pinky ring looking down the leadpipe, I find it just barely misses the septum of my nose and instead lines up perfectly with the start of the left nostril. Second problem is that my embouchure is strange to look at. I also have a horrendous overbite, which doesn't help things. Here's the deal - my bottom lip comes in ever so slightly (about level with my front teeth, which isn't a great distance thanks to the overbite - if I bite down, my teeth touch the tip of my bottom lip). My top lip protrudes just a little bit and I play like that. It looks very, very strange though - my top lip is sort of puckered out, and so it almost looks like a semi-circle made of mostly top lip. I understand all of my descriptions kind of suck, but I hope you can kind of visualize it. I'm concerned because I've never seen anyone play like this before. Nobody's ever told me it's wrong, but it really concerns me because it looks incorrect - I haven't met anyone else who uses this sort of bastardized embouchure. Will I run into problems down the road? Should I try to change my embouchure or should I stay the course?
    Last edited: May 9, 2009
  2. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    Take a photo - but if you are getting reasonable results then don't over analyse - there is likely nothing wrong - remember we are ALL different.
    (Ted thinks of something naughty to say here but resists).

    Seriously though, if you feel that you actually have a problem, have your tutor take a look and make focussed comment based on direct observation - anything else is just us blowing in the wind - from a distance.
  3. Firestas'1

    Firestas'1 Piano User

    Dec 21, 2006
    New Jersey
    There are many different embouchure configurations, some are more "perfect looking" than others. Look for photos of Sergei Nakariakov (sp?), he is very much off center and has no problem.
    If your teacher sees nothing wrong and you are able to get a good tone and range, don't sweat it.
    I also recommend you read David Hickman's book Trumpet Pedagogy he devotes quite a bit of space discussing different embouchures and conditions associated with them.
    Best of luck.
  4. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    You don't say if you have a private trumpet teacher. If you do talk with them about it, if not find one who can help you. They will either fix it or say there is no problem and to keep going. It's worth a try.
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Welcome to the club! By my reckoning about 10% of the wizz-bang pros have a perfect embouchure, the rest play "wrong," but they still play like monsters. Instead of looking, listen! Your sound is the best judge of your chops.

    Have fun!
  6. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    If it ain't broke don't fix it ! There are many different embouchure sets and rare that more than two people in a section will play exactly the same way, everyone compensates some to make things work for their physical differences .
  7. mrmusicnotes

    mrmusicnotes Piano User

    Nov 11, 2007
    Sounds like your just working around a few problems in your set up (overbite and crooked tooth) like a lot of us do.My overbrite forces me to bring my lower jaw a bit forward,not big deal.I found that doing a lot of legato exercises like those in the Arbans (page 40"s) helped my find my best set up.You can"t play these at speed with the wrong set up.I wonder what Dizzy thought when he looked in the mirror!
  8. artiep2

    artiep2 New Friend

    Jan 12, 2009
    I play off center. I also have an underbite so my top teeth meet my bottom teeth end-to-end. Herseth did too (slightly). If your sound is good ( it sounds like your range is good) don't get caught up worrying about something that's not a problem. Work with what you have. Your sound is everything.
  9. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.

    As a 73 year old principal in one community concert band and 'utility' in another, I have lived with exactly the same 'problem' that you describe. At the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Mi. many,many years ago I approached our guest instructor, Mr. Raphael Mendez about how I thought that I looked funny when I played. He told me to NEVER look in a mirror while I played and just listen to myself. " No one in your audience will pay any attention to your embouchure other than wannabee and envious trumpeters. All the rest of the audience will simply focus on enjoying your sound". I took that to heart and still never concern myself about what my embouchure looks like, just, how well it works. Please take my word for it, my off center downstream embouchure works quite well.

  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    if you really want to know what your chances are, get some lessons from a great teacher. All we can do on the internet is guess, and that does not help you one bit. Old Lou is right on the money when he says to throw the mirror in the trash. It is of no help, especially as you have NO idea what to look for, and all of us that have NEVER even seen you play can only serve to confuse the issue more.

    From what you say, everything is working decently and you are pretty far along. Why risk messing all of that up? Get some quality local time from a pro in your area or post your general area (no exact address please). Maybe there is a qualified TMer nearby!

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