Bad Embouchure

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Graham, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. Graham

    Graham Pianissimo User

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    Jun 8, 2008
    Melbourne, Australia
    Hi there!

    So I have this friend, who is a fantastic musician, who practices dilligently, and can tell you a thing or two - - - but his embouchure is horrendous!

    His horn is pointed down about 30Degrees, and the embouchure is off to the left, and it honestly looks like the man is IN PAIN while he plays. He has range problems, and his sound suffers IMO due to this embouchure.

    What should I reccomend? I want to help him to relax it all up, and be able to blow freely!

    I'm open to EVERYTHING -- I'm fascinated by embouchure development, so post away!

    -Cheers
     
  2. screamingmorris

    screamingmorris Mezzo Forte User

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    Apr 4, 2007
    Go to
    An Introduction to Donald S. Reinhardt's Pivot System
    and then scroll down to the middle of the very long Web page to the section entitled "Reinhardt's Embouchure Types".
    There you'll see both photos and text.
    That might help him to diagnose his embouchure type, which from your description sounds very much like a Type III (Type 3).
    Many famous trumpet players point their trumpets way downward, such as Lin Biviano, so doing such is not inherently wrong, only wrong for some individuals.

    Many famous trumpet players place the mouthpiece to one side because the formation of the front teeth forces such, so doing such is not inherently wrong, only wrong for some individuals.

    As for looking like the player is in pain, I have seen photos of great people like Maynard Ferguson and Wayne Bergeron and Bill Chase where those players looked like they were about to have a stroke while playing, so it depends on what kind of music the person is playing when he looks like that.

    Your friend needs to have a professional look at his playing and diagnose the problem.

    It could be that he is playing too high or too low on the mouthpiece,
    or he might be using too much mouthpiece pressure,
    or he might have a problem with a tooth cutting into his lip,
    he might be smiling while he plays (an extremely *wrong* way that was taught long ago) when the corners of his lips should turn downward instead,
    or he might be playing with the wrong type of mouthpiece for his embouchure type and / or musical requirements,
    or he might be playing with the wrong embouchure type (I spent 4 years trying to imitate Type III (Type 3) downstream players before a friend led me to discover that I was born with an upstream Type IV (Type 4) embouchure, and your friend might be making the same mistake).

    Have him try one experiment that takes one minute:
    Have him play higher on the mouthpiece, with 60 percent lower lip and 40 percent upper lip,
    have him hold the trumpet level or tilted very *slightly* upward,
    and then see if there is immediate improvement in his playing in that one minute.
    If there is improvement, then he was probably born with an upstream Type 4 embouchure.
    If he actually plays worse that way, then he was probably born with a downstream Type 3 embouchure.
    For clarification of those terms, see the photos I already referred you to under the section "Reinhardt's Embouchure Types" at
    An Introduction to Donald S. Reinhardt's Pivot System

    On the other hand, he might be born as a Type IVA (Type 4A) as seen at that Web page, and people with that embouchure type often have severe embouchure problems, because the jaw points the trumpet downward although the embouchure points the airstream upward (an extremely difficult situation to control well).
    Type 4A is weird in that the player needs to play high on the mouthpiece (more lower lip than upper lip) although his trumpet is pointed downward (see the photo there at that Web page).
    I once heard a rumor that Herb Alpert was a Type 4A and that is why he had significant embouchure problems.

    - Morris
     
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    If your friend is a fantastic musician, just close your eyes when he plays and encourage him to join TM!
     
  4. Graham

    Graham Pianissimo User

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    Jun 8, 2008
    Melbourne, Australia
    Thank ScreamingMorris! That's some pretty good info there.. I haven't really looked into Reinhardt in great detail yet, but I like what I see.

    Ok, so, picture this guy with an embouchure that looks like the picture that goes with IVA, and off to the side. To set the embouchure, in his case, the mouthpiece first is placed in position, and he then sorta pulls his lips apart a little and then plays.

    As for the looking like he's in pain thing, it doesn't seem that he's actually in pain as such, it's like a big strain. And this is in any sort of playing situation! We're both studying classical trumpet together, and he has a good teacher this year.

    The whole thing is a bit intriguing
     
  5. Graham

    Graham Pianissimo User

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    Jun 8, 2008
    Melbourne, Australia
    PS.

    This guy plays a Bach 37 Strad and a 1-1/2C bach mpc.
     
  6. screamingmorris

    screamingmorris Mezzo Forte User

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    Apr 4, 2007
    He shouldn't be pulling his lips apart.
    Either he is doing something wrong or you are misinterpreting what he is doing?

    Classical?
    No wonder he is in pain ;-)

    - Morris
     
  7. stchasking

    stchasking Forte User

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    Buy David Hickman's Trumpet Pedagogy book.
     
  8. gdong

    gdong Piano User

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    Jun 7, 2008
    LA/Lake Tahoe/NYC
    I've seen (And been one) many trumpet players that suffer from this same thing. They play great, but are really limited by their embochure. I was putting in 10X more work than everyone else in highschool and getting the same results, it just wasnt happening. You need to make sure you have both lips in the cup, and your aperture has room to get bigger and smaller. This is key unless you are OK with not physically being on the same playing field as everyone else, you need to be set up properly. Ken Larson and Ed Carrol are masters of the embouchure switch. As is Bobby shew. Anyone that has gone through it themselves with success can help you as well, but take the opinions of those who have never gone through it with a grain of salt. It IS important to have a efficient physical set-up and it every time you play incorrectly (and strive to play as well technically as those who do play correctly) you are furthering those bad habits and it will be THAT much harder to get back into the game. Good Luck!
     
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    make no judgements about anyones embouchure without having your stuff really together. Go check out Sergei Nakariakovs "embouchure" here:
    YouTube - Sergei Nakariakov or YouTube - Sergei Nakariakov "Carnival of Venice"

    I would probably beat up a student with this "embouchure" but seeing Sergei live changed my attitude about things cosmetic. The results have to be carefully weighed before messing with the face!
     
  10. gdong

    gdong Piano User

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    Jun 7, 2008
    LA/Lake Tahoe/NYC
    I fully agree with you rowuk.
    But, I'm willing to bet that Sergi has both lips in the cup and, cosmetics aside, has an excellent fundamental embouchure style. Coming from experience with a disadvantaged setup, and now playing on a more balanced setup, I know how hard it is to strive for excellence when you are handicapped by physical limitations.

    That being said, I am in no position to make judgments on anything whatsoever related to anyone else. Just passing my experiences on for you to put through the BS filter!

    From what i have learned, you can have all kinds of weird looking setups as long as you are in a position to be physiologically efficient and can play up to the standards you hold yourself up to. I didn't mean for everyone with a small cosmetic issue to go switching on us!

    Sorry.
     

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