Downstream vs. Upstream

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by jazz9, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. jazz9

    jazz9 Piano User

    357
    2
    Dec 5, 2007
    Chilhowie, VA
    I know there have probably been threads on this topic before, but I would like to discuss it further. I am a downstream player, and I have been told to use upstream air while playing and that it doesn't matter. I know many great jazz trumpet players have been upstream players, but I know of equally great ones that used downstream. My whole life, I have never been upstream. I was just curious as to what the rest of you thought. Downstream? Upstream? Does it really matter?
     
  2. ChaseFan

    ChaseFan Banned

    320
    2
    Mar 25, 2008
    You were born with either an upstream embouchure or a downstream embouchure, based on the jaw structure and dental structure.
    You should not attempt to play with an embouchure other than the one you were born with because doing so will ruin your embouchure, ruin your ability to play.

    Here is a link to stories about trumpet players who were born with upstream embouchures but who were taught to play with downstream embouchures by ignorant teachers, teaching that almost ruined the trumpet players
    Forum: trumpetherald.com

    The same terrible thing would happen if a person born with a downstream embouchure were to be forced to play with an upstream embouchure.

    Exactly who was it who told you "I have been told to use upstream air while playing and that it doesn't matter"?

    The person is wrong on 2 counts.
    First, if you were born with a downstream embouchure then it would be wrong to try to play upstream.
    Second, if it "doesn't matter", then why is the person trying to get you to switch embouchures?

    But look carefully at the links within that link that I gave to be absolutely certain that you really do have a downstream embouchure.
    Unfortunately, there are many trumpet players who do not really know their own embouchure type.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
    [email protected] likes this.
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    61
    16,609
    7,945
    Jun 18, 2006
    Germany
    ChaseFan tells the whole story, although like teaching left-handed people to use the right hand, a great deal of proficiency can be achieved - at much higher cost.

    Switching embouchures many times accomplishes NOTHING. Dreams of power, glory, range and endurance are the lies told. Up- and downstream are apparent in the midrange long before the chops are wasted and are not self help. If you "discover" something about your playing, find a teacher that practices this. Most downstream players have not given much thought to upstream embouchures. They sell what works - for them!
     
  4. crowmadic

    crowmadic Mezzo Piano User

    688
    1
    Oct 3, 2006
    Can you explain "upstream/downstream" players, i've never heard of this before?

    crow
     
  5. GoodMusic@PA

    [email protected] Piano User

    291
    1
    Aug 7, 2008
    Upstream players are basically players who position their trumpet upwards.
    So the bell will be facing a little upward.
    For downstream players, the bell will be facing slightly towards the ground.
    I'm not sure I'm 100% right but hope this helps.
     
  6. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    1,094
    329
    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
  7. jazz9

    jazz9 Piano User

    357
    2
    Dec 5, 2007
    Chilhowie, VA
    ChaseFan, thanks for the advice! Interesting conversation in the link! And I've never seen a diagram on airstream. That's cool stuff! I never realized there was so much information on this topic. About my first post, I wasn't clear about what I was told. I've been told that upstream playing would help me a lot. Aside from that comment, I've heard from a different person that it doesn't matter. One teacher told me to play upstream, and another teacher told me it didn't really matter. I am fairly sure I am a downstream player because when I take the trumpet off my face, my air is going down. If I try to direct the air up, everything is compromised. So, basically, I've decided for myself not to change and just keep working hard with what I've got now. Rowuk, I agree. I don't think another embouchure change to accommodate a different airstream would be wise. I just finished switching my embouchure over the summer and am still in the process of gaining my chops back.

    Crowmadic, GoodMusic explained part of it. From what I understand, whether you are an upstream or downstream player depends on the direction of the air going into the horn. I push the air downward into the horn. The reason I know is because I take my horn off my face while still buzzing, and the air hits my stomach or arm. If you take the horn off while still buzzing, and the air hits your nose, you're upstream. The direction of the horn as you play is just a result of the airstream.
     
  8. ChaseFan

    ChaseFan Banned

    320
    2
    Mar 25, 2008
    Go to
    http://www.trombone.org/articles/library/viewarticles.asp?ArtID=240
    then scroll down to the middle of the very long Web page to the section entitled "Reinhardt's Embouchure Types".
    There you will see both photos and texts for helping to identify your embouchure type.

    For 2 drawings that illustrate the differences between downstream and upstream embouchure, see the bottom of the Web page at
    http://www.airstreamdynamics.com/index2.htm
    Click on the drawings to get larger images.
    (I refer to those 2 drawings in the following 2 paragraphs of my post.)

    Downstream Type III (Type 3) plays with a lower lip that curls under the upper lip as the player ascends the scale, so that the airstream is projected in a downward direction.
    When the downstream embouchure plays low notes, the airstream is projected more towards the throat of the mouthpiece.
    When the downstream embouchure plays higher notes, the airstream is projected downward more so that the air is hitting the mouthpiece cup closer to the bottom mouthpiece rim.
    A downstream player should play with more upper lip than lower lip in the mouthpiece (low on the mouthpiece), should tilt the trumpet *slightly* downward as he ascends the scale.

    Upstream Type IV (Type 4) plays with an upper lip that curls under the lower lip as the player ascends the scale, so that the airstream is projected in an upward direction.
    When the upstream embouchure plays low notes, the airstream is projected more towards the throat of the mouthpiece.
    When the upstream embouchure plays higher notes, the airstream is projected upward more so that the air is hitting the mouthpiece cup closer to the upper mouthpiece rim.
    An upstream player should play with more lower lip than upper lip in the mouthpiece (high on the mouthpiece), should tilt the trumpet *slightly* upward as he ascends the scale.

    To examine your own embouchure to see which lip curls under which lip, it is helpful to have a see-through mouthpiece.
    One way is to cut the top off of a water bottle or soda pop bottle so that when you hold it to your lips and buzz on it, you can look in a mirror very closely and see the buzzing centers of your lips.

    I forgot to mention that Donald Reinhardt did not invent such embouchures back in the 1940's.
    He merely did a study of hundreds of brass players and discovered that they were already using such different embouchures because of the different jaw types and dental types that they were born with.
    Reinhardt then just put those already-existing embouchure types into a classification sytem, in the same way that a biologist discovers animals that already exist and then the biologist gives the already-existing animals names and places in a classification system.
    Downstream embouchures are usually some variation of Type III (Type 3).
    Upstream players are usually some variation of Type IV (Type 4).

    I am upstream Type 4.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
  9. jazz9

    jazz9 Piano User

    357
    2
    Dec 5, 2007
    Chilhowie, VA
    You know? The more I've thought about this topic, the more I've questioned it's validity. Sure, if you are extremely one-sided in the upstream-downstream spectrum, and it inhibits your playing ability, it needs to be changed. However, if what most people say about being born upstream or downstream is true, should we worry about it very much? The studies and conversation about it are great and respectable, but I wonder how much it really matters. If we play well with our natural setting, upstream or downstream, maybe we shouldn't worry about analyzing it too much. Just another thought...
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
  10. ChaseFan

    ChaseFan Banned

    320
    2
    Mar 25, 2008
    Earlier in this thread I gave a link
    Forum: trumpetherald.com

    That is just 2 stories of people who were born with upstream embouchures but who were told by music teachers to play with downstream embouchures.

    And it temporarily ruined their ability to play.

    There are many, many more such stories.
    There was one girl who posted here in TM recently about how her music director was trying to force her to play with a downstream embouchure.
    http://www.trumpetmaster.com/vb/f131/desperatly-need-help-50480.html

    So a person needs to identify what his born embouchure type is and play accordingly.
    Even if an uninformed music teacher tries to get him to do otherwise.

    But what about all those players who don't know their own embouchure types and just blindly follow the music teachers' instructions and after 5 years still can't figure out why they still can't play with decent tone and decent endurance?
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009

Share This Page