Broken Embouchure

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Jarrett, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    Any way you choose to deal with this Jarrett, I wish you the best. I just played today a number from Arban that I had never been able to get out with all the notes from beginning to end. As modest as it is (it's not close to the end of the book!), it felt pretty darn good. I can not begin to imagine how it could be like having the freedom of playing all sorts of music and suddenly seeing it slashed in half!!

    Good luck to you and concentrate on the enjoyment of it all. Music is the highest and most profound form of art ever created by humans, I feel lucky to be able to appreciate it in any way.
    Vulgano Brother likes this.
  2. sj3209

    sj3209 Piano User

    Nov 22, 2006
    Amador County, Calif.

    I'm going to step back to my earlier profession for some questions:

    1. Look in the mirror. Smile, see anything unblanced?
    2. Pucker. See anything amiss?

    All good. Excellent. Just ruling out neurologic problems with nerve supply to the facial muscles.

    How bout sensation. Any numb areas on your face. If so, what pattern?
    All good? Excellent.

    Continue with advice from trumpet experts.
  3. pmdberio

    pmdberio New Friend

    Mar 6, 2010
    New YOrk

    I have had EXTENSIVE experience with both your job, embouchure development, obicularis oris surgery & embouchure rehabilitation. If you want to talk more I would be glad to tell you, or provide you with any pictures/stats etc. that I have.

  4. Jarrett

    Jarrett Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Richland, MO
    Guess I need to update this thread a bit!

    Anyway, long story short, I talked with a number of different people, some prominent members of this forum, and a few pro players/teachers.

    Everyone gave the same advice. Overworked yourself, bad practice habits, poor routine... etc. I agreed wholeheartedly. My practice routine had consisted of playing improv stuff in small combos, 2-5 hours a day, flugel and trumpet, no warmup, no warmdown, and maybe throw on an hour or two of concert rehearsals a day on top of that.

    Anyway, I wasn't practicing. I was performing. ALL THE TIME, and after a few years (yes years) of this, my embouchure stopped working.

    I took over a month break from playing altogether. I'd play 5 minutes of long tones every other day, and my chops where completely blasted. I had no range, tone, articulation, tuning... nothing. All gone.

    One day, I picked it up and it was all back. That day, I took it easy. The end of the week, I was gigging again. So, basically, that's what happened. I've really taken a hard look at practice habits, rest periods, practicing the BASICS again, and trying to realize I'm not superman.
  5. Big Daddy

    Big Daddy Mezzo Piano User

    Mar 22, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Congratulation on being able to play again.
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The real message here is getting a life outside of the trumpet to help keep balance. Our perspective improves enormously when we have other things to reward ourselves with. That combined with patience and the knowledge that success is measured in MONTHS is a recipe that many should take before it is too late.

    Congratulations Jarrett and thank you for the update!
  7. Jarrett

    Jarrett Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Richland, MO
    Thanks again for the help!
  8. cvayda

    cvayda Pianissimo User

    Jun 9, 2008

    Jarrett brings up the topic of Embouchure overuse syndrome and you seem to know a lot of good stuff.
    I have been in contact with Lucinda Lewis, Principal horn, New Jersey Symphony and described my situation and she said I have all the symptoms of Embouchure overuse syndrome. (She has a website dedicated to this topic: Welcome to ). I was explaining that I had no pain or discomfort and I don't think playing 1-2 hrs a day is overuse, but she said the syndrome need not be caused only by overuse but also equipment change/tweak, which is exactly my situation. I've posted here before about a MPC tweak I had done over 2 yrs ago to close the GAP, hoping to improve things, but instead, everything unraveled. I've since had a duplicate of my MPC made in hopes of reconstructing the original specs but as Lucinda said, "'...even if your mouthpiece were magically restored to the perfect model you used successfully, you would likely not feel it". So I cannot seem to get back to where I was before the MPC tweak. She has provided me with Blocked-Buzz exercises to try to get the "old" feel back and to analyze my embouchure. Not sure if you have ever seen that (it is on her website) but wondered if you could weigh in on this. I think my biggest problem is swelling of the lower lip. Due to a cross bite, I've always played a little off center towards my right hand side (maybe I've drifted off even more, not sure). Well I've noticed over this time that a slight puffiness of the lower lip develops after playing (doesn't take long) and when that happens, everything seems to shut down and playing is a struggle. Range, endurance, control all gone. I'm not sure how to correct this but I think it is essential if I ever want to get back on track again. I thought maybe you could help with some thoughts, suggestions, etc. Darth
  9. strad116055

    strad116055 Pianissimo User

    May 27, 2014
    there is a book called "broken embouchures" by the former first horn player of the met. i would say don't play another note til you read it. good luck. dystonia is a really seriously nasty thing.
  10. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Old thread, but look at Jarrett's time line to recovery, 11/09-3/10: 4 months. This is the rehab time to get strained muscle back to it's baseline performance (actually it on average take 6 months). He had muscle strain. Had he had nerve damage, this would be a permanent problem, and a new embouchure would need to be attempted to over come this. Thank goodness he did not seek surgical intervention. Give nature a chance to heal. Let loss of control or pain be your guide. If you have no problem with facial asymmetry or muscle atrophy (a sign of neurological damage), AND if you are smart and did not play through pain where scar will remodel (irreversibly change the muscle structure), then nature (through time) will heal. It will take 4 to 8 months. Trust your Mother.

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