Another Mouthpiece Placement Question...

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by cloudiest, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. cloudiest

    cloudiest New Friend

    Jan 11, 2015
    I know the forums are petty clogged with beginners asking the same old questions, but because of the wording of my question, I can't seem to find an answer which doesn't contradict another...

    Little bit bit of background:
    I'm teaching myself to play the trumpet, which is obviously largely ill-advised, but as I'm just taking it on as a hobby instrument, as I already perform with others, I'm not really I n the position to pay for any more instrument tutoring.
    (I am well-versed in the Guitar and proficient with the Electric Bass and Upright, if anyone's interested, haha).

    So finally to the question:
    It is my understanding that it's recommended to place the mouthpiece on 2/3 bottom lip, 1/3 upper lip.
    I appear to be finding more success following the opposite, finding much more control in the octave beginning middle C.
    The trouble begins when I try to play above the following C, in that I canny get any clear resonance at all, which makes me curious whether this is down to mouthpiece placement.

    I know it's very hard to give advice on things such at these without seeing my jaw/teeth placement and the size and shape of my lips, but I've got a brick wall and would very much like to tear it down!

    Thanks in advance for any help!
  2. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Wherever it works for you!

    There is NO correct placement.

    Harry James, in his Metronome column of June, 1938 wrote:

    "I'm just one of the lead trumpeters in the band. There is no definite rule about dividing the first book either-nothing like Chris taking all the pretty tunes and Ziggy and I dividing the ride numbers. We just get the parts in rotation.........The funny part is, though, that most people can't tell just by listening which one of us is playing lead. And it seems funny that we should have such similar tones and style when we play so differently....

    Chris has a one-third top, two-thirds bottom embouchure, Ziggy's is two-thirds top and one-third bottom and dangerously close to his ear, while mine is a slightly off-center, half and half, puffed-out-cheek affair."
  3. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I play about 2/3rds upper lip, 1/3rd lower - always have. I'm no screaming player, but I've got solid chops to 2nd ledger C and a couple of notes beyond.

    I think that right now you should focus more on basic fundamentals - tone, articulation, lip slurs/flexibilities, finger/tongue coordination - all in a comfortable register, and to not worry about range as much. As your chops gain strength and develop better focus, and as you learn to start to use your air more efficiently, range will often take care of itself once some of those other aspects are addressed in more depth.

    Keeping in mind that I started playing trumpet as a 5th grader, I didn't develop any real usable range above 4th space E until I was in the middle of my 7th grade year - well over 2 years into playing the horn. I'm not saying that will happen to you, but rather to say to be patient and let your range develop without pushing it. SO many players develop bad habits by trying to force range, and it usually winds up being detrimental to the process in the long run.

    Good luck with it!
  4. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    Hello, welcome to TM and all that,

    you may find some answers to your question here:

    and if not, then at least you'll find discussion.

    Other threads I recall which have thrashed over this fairly well include these ones:

    I am not sure that it's generally recommended at all to place the mouthpiece 1/3 up, 2/3 down -- and there are well-known players who do the opposite, and I am sure there are those who place it halfway.

    By "middle C" do you mean the middle C on a piano, that is C below the staff, or do you mean C near the middle of the treble staff? If you mean the C in the staff, then having a little trouble above the next C up (above the staff) is not unusual, particularly for a self-tought beginner.

  5. cloudiest

    cloudiest New Friend

    Jan 11, 2015
    Okay, thanks for the advice and resources!

    I was referring to Piano middle C, I was unaware it would be unlikely to reach even one or two notes above the C within the staff. I was unsure just because it seemed so much more difficult to attempt, whereas I played the C major scale within my first couple of attempts.

    I'll stop worrying about range and just work on exercises within a comfortable area!
    I've been quite wary as to not cause damage to the lips or muscles surrounding as I sing choral music. Am I right in thinking that if I'm doing damage I'll be able to tell? Wouldn't want something creeping in on me without my knowledge until it's too late :(
  6. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    If you approach your playing correctly you shouldn't damage anything at all - you may just get tired. Please avoid mashing the horn into your lips when trying to get higher range -- I did that and regret it. Range will come with familiarity and practice. If you get too tired playing and try and play too much longer then that might not be so good.

    I found some of the stuff written by Clint McLaughlin pretty useful in this respect a few years ago when I was weaning myself off my high-contact-pressure ways.

  7. Dennis78

    Dennis78 Fortissimo User

    Feb 1, 2015
    I play 1/2 and 1/2 and just to the right off center. My comfortable range is to A above the staff, I can go to the C above but only briefly like in a run up the scale. Just take your time and get the lower and middle register nailed down and the other stuff will come with time. Most of all have fun and don't give up
  8. mgcoleman

    mgcoleman Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 22, 2010
    2/3 top, 1/3 bottom and slightly to the left. I do this because of a very slight overlap of my two front teeth and this where it is most comfortable and, more importantly, I find myself playing with the least pressure.
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Generally if you are playing stuff that is good for you, your embouchure improves by evolution, not revolution. Play lots of long and soft tones and lipslurs. They give your brain time to catch up.
  10. J. Jericho

    J. Jericho Fortissimo User

    Mar 16, 2011
    As you play (and pay attention to what you're doing) you will discover an area which allows you the best sound. range, and flexibility. In time you will refine it with more precision and be able to get to this position automatically every time you put the mouthpiece to your lips.

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