Can you play the trumpet with a cleft palate and buck teeth?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Local 357, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    Probably not. Just kidding with the question. Put it there as an aid to visualize the worst possible physical condition an aspiring trumpet player could have. Add orthodontic braces and I think you pretty much have a serious loser there.

    Why mention this? Because describing a positive embouchure condition (as I've been doing lately) can be tricky. Leads to confusion. Sometimes looking at the sheer opposite description can help illuminate the more beneficial path.

    Like my buddy Bill who suffers from a near serious mental depression. He's always putting himself down. So his shrink prescribes him these affirmation exercises. Trouble is they don't work. Or he won't try them. Too depressed I guess. Instead I suggested that he take the opposite tact and intentionally put himself down to the worst degree. Because he's used to doing that. Makes him feel more comfortable to always take himself apart. So he asked me how to take an opposing viewpoint. To which I told him stuff like (all in jest)

    "Your pa was right. You never did amount to much. Just like when Sandra dumped you for Elliot. Now there's a guy with a real future. Unlike you that's for sure"

    And so on. All a gag of course. By the time I had old Bill insulted on just about every aspect of his life including lack of certain physical prowess? He was near dying in laughter. He may never cure his negative thought patterns but at least we all got a huge chuckle out of the exercise.

    So while pondering a description a set of minor embouchure adjustments that I know (and have a perfect record of proven results with) always help a half decent trumpet player develop a good High F or so I thought to propose the single worst combination of chop conditions. That by doing this we could easily analyze in simplicity what truly doesn't work. Then by looking in the mirror devise a totally opposite condition. One that is sure to guarantee success.

    So I suggest that someone with a cleft palate and buck teeth would have a helluva time gettin it to happen on the horn. Probably couldn't even switch 'em to Baritone... And the first question about WHY this would be such an awful setting has the obvious answer:

    Because there is no upper lip available to receive the air and vibrate. Both the lip mass is too small and doesn't descend. Plus the teeth are so huge and awkward that no lip material can cover.

    No brainer right? OK now lets look at the typical condition of the half decent to advanced trumpet player trumpet player, who like the great majority of our kind, eventually and inevitably decides to ascend into the upper register only to find that he has none at all. What is his problem? Why can't he do it?

    Well oddly the answer is nearly the same as was for our hypothetical poor bastard with the horrendous buck teeth and a cleft palate: No lip mass available down over the upper teeth in sufficient quantity or looseness as to allow a tone above the High C to emanate.

    Fairly simple concept to understand. Almost as easy to correct. And doesn't require any serious embouchure change.

    I'll let y'all ponder that one for a bit. Questions? Anytime.

    So just think for a bit about that poor imaginary fellow with the proverbial buck teeth and cleft palate. How the hell could he get a note out of the horn? My guess is that he'd have to play way off center. Either left or right.

    A concept that may also shed some light as to why a lot of trumpet players prefer an off center chop setting. Maybe anyway.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  2. Dave Mickley

    Dave Mickley Forte User

    Nov 11, 2005
    357 - I once knew a man from here in Indy that ended up being a pro trumpet player that worked out of New York. He said he would get a call for a big band, they would reh. for 4-6 weeks hit the road for 4-6 months come back to New York and then he would give lessons, play the club scene and wait for another big band job that would come along. He said one time between big band jobs a friend said "you got to come with me tonight and see this astounding Marachi player in the Catskills". He and a couple of other trumpet payers went an d saw him, this guy was astounding. the next night was the last night of the gig and he said about 4 car loads of New York trumpet players went and saw him. He said the guy had a beautiful tone and chops that lasted all night - the thing was he played out of the left side of his mouth with the mouth piece placed on the lower lip normally but using the red part of the upper lip. after the show they all wanted to know how he could play a note that way besides playing like he did. The guy didn't speak a word of english but he told the guys through and interpreter that when he was 5 or 6 he picked up his grandfathers cornet and this just felt natural for him. this guy I knew changed his teaching technique after that. he said he would work with a student and and try to get them in the center but after a while if it didn't work he would let the student place the mouth piece where it was the most comfortable and then work with them on that. ------ a long story just to say, yes a person with a cleft palate and buck teeth could play the trumpet if they really wanted to.
  3. bamajazzlady

    bamajazzlady Mezzo Forte User

    May 16, 2011
    What's that player's name?
  4. Dave Mickley

    Dave Mickley Forte User

    Nov 11, 2005
    bamajazzlady - I have a problem remembering names [always have and my kids used to make fun of me over that], I do remember he attended Tech high school in Indy, moved to New York and after years on the road he decided to settle down and move back home. He opened up a music store in Shelbyville that fell on hard times and he got a job at Allison Transmission [where I worked for over 30 years]. He ran a machine and I was a machine repairman and I talked to him maybe 6-7 times at work, sold him a L.A. Benge for a relative [he said it was one of the best horns he ever played]. He retired from Allison Transmission and moved to Florida. He probably retired from Allison back in the mid 90s. Sorry that I don't have a name for you

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