Aperture of the teeth

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by BackInHanoi, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. BackInHanoi

    BackInHanoi New Friend

    Jul 18, 2010
    I'm new, just posted on the intros page.

    Been searching for old discussions on this issue and didn't find anything.

    I'm a newbie trumpet player.

    A: How far apart should the teeth be? I know, it differs from player to player. Mine tend to be about the width of my tongue apart.

    B: Does the aperture change through the range? For high notes, I am tending to bring my teeth closer together.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
  2. Gliss Girl

    Gliss Girl Pianissimo User

    Aug 31, 2009
    Portland, MI
    Hi, Hanoi,

    My teacher tells me to set my aperture by sticking the tip of my tongue between my teeth - how far out you stick your tongue and open your aperture is your subjective choice according to the sound you wish to produce - as you may know more open aperture produces a more open sound and allows more air to get into the horn - but this can be at the expense of the the ability to go higher, but you may adjust this ability with your choice of mouthpiece and with movement of the tongue upward inside of the mouth (thinking "tee" as you go up), narrowing the airstream and accelerating it. The tongue is a much more sophisticated instrument of air control than the jaw, kind of like comparing a scalpal to a hatchet. I too tend to naturally close my jaw (bring my teeth together) when I go higher. This is something that I have been taught to view negatively and everything I read backs this up. I look in a mirror occasionally as I practice and have cringed to view my jaw moving together as I go higher. A danger of using the jaw to narrow the air stream rather than the tongue is that it quickly closes-off the hole through which air escapes the mouth. As the jaw narrows, I have literally nearly suffocated myself on high passages while I've simultaneously had full lungs. The big airstream from an open cavity hits a brick wall and backs-up, rather than the controlled flow of a narrow stream moving at high velocity through a small channel over the tongue. A closed jaw also adds the bad side-effect of tension and pressure as I struggle to get the air through the too narrow aperture, and swollen lips from the pressure. I'm not sure whether you get these same side effects, but it is just what I experience. It is not easy to retrain yourself, but if you know where you're trying to go, you can get there.
  3. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Wow that's a lot to think about to play one note. How do you play two different notes in a row while thinking about all those apertures? If you put your lips together in the mouthpiece,the space between your teeth will take care of it's self. The aperture of your lips is created by the air stream passing through them,not by the player opening the embouchure. If the lips are separated and not touching, they won't vibrate. What usually causes the sound to choke off, is poor breathing techniques,and excessive mouthpiece pressure.Don't over think every little aspect of playing ,it could cause frustration by analysis .
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    YES! What Al said.

    A good start is to form an M with your lips, place the mouthpiece on the lips and blow. The "correct" embouchure is attained through intelligent practice, not a ruler. Your mouthpiece gravitates to the right place if you practice right and enough.
  5. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    A:Spread your teeth as far apart as you can. The further the better
    B:There's the problem. You need to keep your teeth spead far apart

    OK, I've had my funROFL.
    The teeth do not spread apart at will unless you're a snake or spider and those would more correctly be called fangs.
    Just work on buzzing your lips (try to buzz a scale) and play simple songs but make it sound good. As for the aperture. That's the little hole where the lips vibrate to make a sound. It expands and contracts as you go up and down the scale.
  6. Jerry Freedman

    Jerry Freedman Piano User

    Mar 4, 2005
    Different people say different things...Callet says keep the teeth apart and jaws as open as possible. Jeanne Pocius used to ( still does ?) had students play with a pencil eraser size piece of cork between you molars. The Cat Anderson book out now has you practice with bottom teeth touching the top teeth ( doesn't say how to play ). Best answer....find a teacher you trust.
  7. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    That's the nice thing about muscle memory - it does the "thinking" once the muscles have been trained and thus frees up the "CPU" for bigger issues. Think back to learning any physical activity - walking, writing, tying your shoes, shooting a basketball, riding a unicycle - and how much thinking and analysis went into every tiny bit of progress - at first. But, over time, the muscle memory took over more and more of the task and it took less analysis.

    I can't think of a reason why playing the trumpet is not the same. Certainly learning the fingering takes a lot of analysis. It doesn't just happen by osmosis. So, to analyze the teeth, tongue, lips, breath control and other aspects of the embouchure is not unreasonable. Everybody needs to figure out what works best and that is going to take some time and trial. But, in the meantime, it seems like Glissgirl and other TM'ers can offer some ideas of where to go with the analysis during the trial period.

    As far as a teacher goes, I have had 3 since I started my comeback. They have all helped in different ways but none had anything that was the answer for my embouchure - in fact, all 3 had different "answers". So, I had to figure it out on my own - with a lot of help from the threads here, many of which were flamed horrendously. I am still analyzing and making adjustments but I am progressing and feel that I am going in the right direction.

    Now, back to practice...
  8. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    Way too much for a biginner to think about! The best advice is listen to Rowuk and Al. Even if you are a new to the horn, find a good trumpet teacher. The vast majority of questions are answered as you learn to play WITH GOOD HABITS!! Don't think about your mouth, think about the results, the sound.
  9. Gliss Girl

    Gliss Girl Pianissimo User

    Aug 31, 2009
    Portland, MI
    Thank you, everybody. There was a thread recently, I think posted by TrickG, about those whose knowledge outstrips their skill offering advice on the Forums. I agree completely, and here I find myself as a relative novice probably guilty of that. Actually, the process that occurs here is very helpful as long as we're honest about where we stand. I offer advice hoping that if I am going astray, I'll be corrected by all of you who have long years of wisdom. This is the beauty of the forum, and why I don't hesitate to kick-off a first answering post. With as much information as is floating around, and access such as this to such talented players, it is possible in two years of playing trumpet to know way more than I knew about the french horn in my nine years of playing that instrument in the '70's-early '80s (My parents wouldn't fund lessons back then). Actually, most of the information I offered comes from a teacher I took a couple of lessons from who believes in a physical approach to playing -so I have internalized a lot of that, which may be to my detriment, but I'm glad I understand the mechanics. The danger is not in letting it go while I play. I have switched now to a teacher with the "listen and play musically" approach. He believes, as I have heard from some of you here, that the physical takes care of itself. This should help me to "let go" and not be conscious of all of this extra stuff I've learned.
  10. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    I had the greatest aperture between my teeth until the dang dentist had to discover one tooth was dead and put a fake one in. I could squirt water SO far and accurately, I was a human Super Soaker. Much to my sisters' dismay! Now have a classier fake tooth in front (color matches better) but I sure miss my aperture. I'd file one in if I were sillier, but then, these days, as an adult, who would I squirt? Cops in the chops:? That would be fun until the beat-down milliseconds afterward. Oh well. Thanks for this thread reminding me of apertures past.

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