Changing Embouchure

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by TrumpetSaiyan777, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. TrumpetSaiyan777

    TrumpetSaiyan777 New Friend

    Dec 4, 2011
    So I've actually been having HUGE, HUGE, HUGE problems with changing my embouchure. My private teacher told me that I should try changing my embouchure so that I play on the higher red of my upper lip, and that it'll also help with some range issues I have. Right now I can hit a High D, the first D above the staff on a daily basis and I can barely push that up to an E. I've been stuck with the same exact range almost for 5 months now and I really want to make an improvement, and thought one way I can help push that is if I change my embouchure.

    I play slightly off-center towards the left side and my teacher says I play on the lower red of the upper lip.

    I made the Lead Trumpet spot in my High School Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble after Band auditions a few months ago, and I think now I should start really making improvements on my embouchure so I can play more efficiently but also have much better range and endurance. I know changing embouchure is one of the hardest things and I'm having huge problems, and I honestly feel lost on what to do. I know for a time I won't be able to play as well as I usually do, but in time I'll be even better than I am now, so I think I should push myself to make that change happen.

    What should I do to help improve my embouchure as quickly and effectively as I can?
  2. codyb226

    codyb226 Banned

    Mar 9, 2011
    Florida, US
    First, you cant do this over the internet. You said you have a private teacher, why cant he/she help you?

    Also, the above sentence from you is not right. Embouchure change does not happen overnight. It could be a year process, 2 years or even more. I will leave the rest to Rowuk and everyone else. But good luck!

    PS, your range is fine. That will last you forever. You dont need a DHC. If you can play a solid high C and D then you should be fine.
  3. chenzo

    chenzo Piano User

    Jul 18, 2008
    I agree long as you can up to the High c and d with ease and in a relaxed matter I wouldn't be to concerned
  4. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    Good advise so far..
    my two cents
    Do you trust your instructor? Is he any good? What are your long term goals?
    If you plan on playing this instrument in college or professionally and your instructor tells you we need to make some changes in order to improve your playing ( not because the trumpet manuel states such and such) then you have another choice to make. Pick the period of time where it will least impact any performances and possibly limiting your playing commitments while you go through the initial process or deal with the frustration.
    Ask you instructor what to expect and what he reccomends .... you might get a second opinion. If you do opt for a second opionion you might politely ask your instructor if there is someone you could talk to about it. Let him know how you are feeling, openly and politely.
  5. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson Pianissimo User

    Feb 27, 2008
    Can't really give any specific advice without seeing and hearing you, but I will say to BE PATIENT when dealing with an embouchure change. It's hard and it seems counter-intuitive, but practicing too much can really slow down your progress. You're using muscles in new ways and you just won't have the strength or endurance to play like you're used to playing. Even practicing for 30 minutes might be too much at first, and if you overdo it it can take a couple days to recover and you end up losing some of the progress you had made.

    Emphasis on the word "solid"... If you can barely get out a high C and your range just cuts off after that, there's an issue. If you can play a good C or D and then squeak up to higher notes, you probably just need more time and some minor tweaking to develop those notes. He says he can "push that up to an E" - if that's true, it's likely that he's more or less on the right track but is still missing some pieces of the puzzle.

    You don't need a DHC but I would argue that if you can't at least play a high G and squeak out the DHC then either there is an issue with your chops or you need more time/practice to develop.
    codyb226 likes this.
  6. LiquidSean

    LiquidSean Pianissimo User

    Nov 7, 2010
    I've got some first-hand experience in embouchure changes, as I've been going through one since September. I used to play with my mouthpiece really low, with my upper lip barely in the cup. I had a good range up to a high E or so on good days.

    Once I got into my first college lessons (ok, my first private lesson ever :-) ), my teacher told me that if I wanted to keep playing and make good progress, that I should move the mouthpiece to the center of my lips.
    And so the process began....

    To be completely honest, this embouchure change has been the hardest thing I've ever done on trumpet. There were times in the practice room where part of me just wanted to quit playing trumpet, and learn a different instrument. But I kept on at it.

    Depending on how drastic your change is, it will most likely feel like you are in middle school again. And this feeling will last for at least a month.

    On my old embouchure I had massive endurance issues, and a limited flexibility, but now I can stay still and play for hours.

    If you're looking for a quick fix to your range, I'd say that this is anything but quick. In the long run, you will be able to play higher, and with a bigger sound -- assuming your change goes like how mine has.

    You say you just made lead part though, so that complicates things. Understand that once you start your embouchure change, you won't be able to play higher than a C in the staff for upwards of a month, if that. If you're a Senior in high school, I'd recommend enjoying lead part for now, and doing the change over the summer when you're not in a stressful playing environment. Because keep in mind, going back and forth between embouchures is not an option; it will only complicate things for you. It's all or nothing when it comes to this. If you're a Freshman/Sophomore/Junior, I'd say talk to your band director about playing on a lower part until your upper register is back in action, and go for the embouchure change as soon as you can. Then by the time you're a senior, you'll be an exponentially better player.

    General advice, if you do go through your embouchure change:
    1.) Practice for about an hour a day of low stress, low impact basics
    2.) Long tones will get you some muscle back
    3.) Focus on airflow -- It will feel different on your new embouchure
    4.) Record yourself at least once a week, to show off your improvements later. This will also be a big esteem booster months down the line if you're still feeling in the gutter.
    5.) Flow studies do wonders
    6.) Understand that this is a grueling process for most, so just take your time and enjoy your progress. Don't let your emotions get the best of you. You're playing the trumpet because you want to. It should be fun.
    7.) Assuming your teacher is adept at what he does, listen to him. Take time to go over your lesson materials, or it's all a waste.
    8.) Practice (yes, again!!)

    I think I'm just rambling now, probably just procrastinating from studying for finals :lol:

    I wish you the best of luck with this, because I definitely know how you're feeling.
  7. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011

    Your teacher has the typical 19th century approach to brass playing. Wants you to play the same as he does and is regurgitating the same tired old ideas he learned on the way up.

    Here's an idea: Ask or demand that your teacher EXPLAIN why you should use more upper lip in the mouthpiece. Do not be satisfied with answers like

    "Well most of the top players play this way"

    "This can fix range problems" or

    "This is what usually helps trumpet players gain better range, tone (fill in the blanks)"

    Yes ask him the specific physical reason(s) WHY this should help you. Demand that he explain the resonance factors of the upper lip. How it is assisted by the lower lip. Ask him about the relevance of keeping a certain lip mass below the upper teeth. Ask him why many outstanding trumpet players like the late Bud Brisbois and (the living) Jon Faddis play the EXACT OPPOSITE way he describes (instead they play with more lower lip than upper). Ask him to explain why receded jaw players tend to utilize more upper lip and why forward jaw trumpet players often use less of it (upper lip).

    Then ask him what his highest musical note is. See if he can play a SOLID HIGH G. Picking it off at both loud and soft volume. Have him use it in a musical passage including rapid articulation.

    Guess what? He will FAIL all of these questions. Except perhaps the ability to play a decent High G or so. he may have one or not.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012

Share This Page