Come back player embouchure question!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by valvespit, Dec 21, 2007.

  1. valvespit

    valvespit New Friend

    Dec 20, 2007
    Re: What to practice after the dreaded embouchure change


    Excuse me if I have entered the wrong thread, perhaps you guys could redirect me. This is my first post. I have a question about trying a new embouchure after a musical hiatus.

    I am a 40 yr old guy who just got the urge to pick up my old trumpet after putting it aside FOR 17 YEARS!!:-o . I started playing at 13 yrs old and played through college (I was in engineering, not music), taking lessons from our music director who had a background in military bands and old circus bands as well as municipal brass bands. I played 1st trumpet or cornet in pretty much everything in our symphonic bands, british brass band, baroque ensembles as well as some 2nd trumpet stuff in the our city's civic symphony. I occasionally had the opportunity to play with some really good musicians. I recall using the Arban book and the Clarke studies when I took lessons. Then.....I quit so I could do other things. I went into medicine and it has consumed alot of time. In hindsight, I really wish I hadn't stopped playing and now I would be at least as good as I was then. Now, I guess it has something to do with having kids and settling down that finally made me realize how important it is be able to play a musical instrument.

    So, there I was tonight with my Bach Strad no. 37 trying to squeeze out a low C. Ouch!!! My little kids (and my wife) were running around the room laughing at me; it was all I could do to get a note out. Thirty minutes later, my lips are dead-tired but I have managed to reel off some major/minor scales and a chromatic, at least up to a G (the one that sits on top of the five lines:D) as well as a few barely recongnizable melodies, like part of that 2nd movement of the Hayden. My kids have run off to another room now; they're like ferrets on a double espresso. My wife, who has never heard me play, isn't laughing anymore. She said "How'd you learn to do that so fast? Have you played before?"

    Anyway, my question is this. Should I try changing my embouchure? I feel like I always had a pretty decent sound with the embouchure I was using, but I never really had much of an upper range. Seriously, the most frustrating thing about playing trumpet was that I could only play a "high C" (a clean-sounding one) on a really good day. I was pretty comfortable with any music that went to an A or B. However, a solid upper range, and endurance in the upper range, really eluded me. The guy I took lessons from said not to worry about it. He said continued practice - with better diaphram and breathing control - would give me better endurance. I practiced my butt off just about every day, but it never came. I will say this: if I went 4 days or so without playing, I could pick up the horn and have a good-sounding high range, including the elusive C, for about 10 minutes or so. Then, I would lose it.

    When I put my horn to my lips tonight for the first time in 17 years, I could feel the same "ring" on my lips from long ago; it did not feel new. It almost felt sore! Could I have damaged my lip from playing the wrong was so long ago? Should I make a new "ring"?

    I know there's alot of factors to consider when trying to get better endurance and range, but I'm just wondering if it's worth the effort to start playing again with a NEW embouchure. I know you guys can't take me back to get a music degree, but any advice would be appreciated.

    Again, I'm sorry if I hijacked this thread. Please re-direct me if there is a more appropriate thread.
  2. Patric_Bernard

    Patric_Bernard Forte User

    Oct 25, 2007
    Naa... this seems like the right thread to me haha..

    Well of course your sound is going to be a little rough starting back up again, i mean, its been what, 15 years you said? Its almost like when you started the first time when you were thirteen, but you have an idea of melodies, scales and technique. You just have to build up your chops again.

    Now as for your range... Do you use alot of pressure, or none at all.

    When you play, do you try to have firm corners or loose ones? A flat chin?

    (Sorry, but once we know what kind of embouchure you use then we can help you more with the range part)
  3. camelbrass

    camelbrass Mezzo Forte User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Dubai, UAE
    Don't wory about embouchures, pressure, rings, flat chins, bunched chins or whether it's too big or too small!! Real need to change embouchures is very rare and is the domain of experts not internet advice forums.

    Make the best possible sound you can and for now, at least, concentrate on lyrical, beautiful playing in the staff.

    It really helps to get a trumpet teacher. You can do it on your own but there is a lot of hit and miss and lots of blind allies without one. Range and endurance are bi-products of good fundamentals practiced intelligently and diligently. No-one is going to want to listen to you if you don't sound good...regardless of how high you can play.


    Last edited: Dec 21, 2007
  4. oj

    oj Pianissimo User

    Sep 9, 2005
    You are on Internet, so always take things with a "grain of salt".

    First: Nothing can compare to a good teacher who know how to teach and can demonstrate things.
    (If a teacher starts talking about diaphragma control etc. - leave him. Get another one who knows about human physiology, breahting etc.)

    Second: Knowledge can be hard to aquire, but it sure is easy to carry. So don't be afraid to go on your own search also. In other words get good books.

    The most complete one is by David Hickman.

    Here is an interview I did with him: Trumpet Pedagogy

    Another book I use to recommend to grown up like you, who have no teacher, is Jeff Smiley's self help book.

    And here is an interview I did with him: The Balanced Embouchure

    Good luck - and welcome back to trumpet playing!

    Last edited: Dec 21, 2007
  5. Bill McCloskey

    Bill McCloskey Piano User

    Apr 22, 2007
    I'm also a comeback player so congratulations.

    Like you, I also thought about changing my embouchure and looked at a bunch of crazy things. Eventually I went back to what felt natural for me.

    First, you have to give yourself time.
    Second, you may want to look at a change in mouthpiece rather than embouchure.
    Third, have fun.
  6. valvespit

    valvespit New Friend

    Dec 20, 2007
    Thanks for the feedback guys. I'm guess I should stick with the old "ring". My work schedule will probably not allow me to audition for, or play in, any group that will rehearse on a regular basis. My main goal is to play for my kids so they'll (hopefully) start taking an interest in music. I just want to show 'em it's fun.

    My other goal, for now, is to get back to the level I was at 17 years ago. It would be nice to just play some music around the house.

    I agree with you guys that the best approach would be to seek professional help (ha ha). Right now I don't know any trumpet teachers in the area. I'll look around.

    For those of you who have ever gone a long time without playing, it's cruel. It amazes me that I remember all the scales and fingerings, but I have zero chops. I still feel the ring on my lips though from nearly 2 decades ago.

    Santa's bringing my kids an electric piano, a 76-key Yahama. Hopefully, they won't destroy it before they get to start taking wanting to take lessons. I won't let them touch my Korg M1 (I lied. In the past 17 years, I did start playing piano a little. I should have stuck with the trumpet).

    Merry Christmas
  7. Miyot

    Miyot Pianissimo User

    Jul 22, 2007
    Valvespit, don't change that embouchure. Just play. I'm a comeback player as well. 27 yrs. off. If you work at it, 6 months will put you well ahead of where you left off. I don't think you damaged your lip long ago. Sounds like you pretty much had your technique working for you.

    Break your practice sessions into half hr. segments. Don't use excessive pressure. Let your embouchure center itself. Your muscle memory is still there. Show your children how to set practice goals and stick to them. Soon you will be in a band. We have a Dr. who plays keyboards, excellent.
  8. tatakata

    tatakata Mezzo Forte User

    May 29, 2007

    Find a good teacher if you would like to improve much faster

    Make a good sound

    Have fun
  9. oj

    oj Pianissimo User

    Sep 9, 2005
    There is one thing I forgot to mention.

    I often us a CD with Phil Smith as my warm up in the morning. (Always good to have a great sound sample - and some time keeping)

    20 minute Warm-Up Routine

    One idea in the beginning is to us call & response.
    Let Phil play 1 line, then play along on next, Phil alone on next etc.

    Also good to know things, like physiology (why rest, ATP, building mucles, etc). Read John Pursell's good article:

    30 min. is way too much in the beginning. Start with 5 min. Then after a week or two go to 10 min. In the rest (at least as long as playing), listen to music, etc. etc.

    Have fun!

  10. pipedope

    pipedope Pianissimo User

    Sep 2, 2007
    I am a comeback player who was off the horn for more than 20 years.
    I found that at first it was best to do many, very short sessions.

    I start with long tones and some lip slurs but the rule is STOP at the first sign of strain or if my tone falls apart. I then rest for at least 5 minutes.
    Then I play more with the same rule. The second rest is at least 10 minutes.
    More playing, long tones, lip slurs scales, simple tunes.
    Stop at first strain and before hurting nyself and rest at least 30 minutes.

    I could feel and hear improvement dailyand in a couple weeks was starting to do 30 minutes of good practice at a time.

    I use lot of study books but the one that seems to be helping me the most right now is, "The Reinhardt Routines—a total embouchure development plan"
    The Reinhardt Routines—<i>a total embouchure development plan</i><br>for Trumpet

    The excersizes done softly with marked dynamics exactly as the instructions had my chops working really well very quickly.

    Welcome back!
    Playing has so many benefits we can't cover them all but it is just so much FUN the rest is just icing on the cake.

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