Downstream vs. Upstream

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

  1. jazz9

    jazz9 Piano User

    Dec 5, 2007
    Chilhowie, VA
    That's cool! I totally did not mean to offend and am sorry if I did. I'm pretty sure I'm a downstream player though. I've never tried to permanently change to upstream, but during the beginning of the semester, my teacher tried to get me to play upstream. It did not work out. So, I just kept on working hard with my downstream playing. My playing is not great at the moment, but I'm still recovering from an embouchure change in July. It's getting more fun as I get range and technique back, and I can see what you're saying about double C's being fun. So those are my thoughts, and I appreciate your comments too.
  2. RHSbigbluemarchingband

    RHSbigbluemarchingband Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 17, 2009
    Quick question, does a downstream embouchere (right term?) affect your horn angle? Someone in the jazz band, she sits next to me, keeps saying how her horn angle is horrible because the rest of us have our horns parallel to the ground and hers points downwards. I told her she sounds fine, why worry, but is this downstream embouchere whats causing this problem? I've been keeping an eye on this thread, and she keeps wanting to fix her horn angle, but I'm afraid she'll mess up her playing. Im not going to give her any tips or anything, cause I don't want to jump to conclusions, or mess up her playing (she's a GREAT player), but is the downstream embouchere whats causing her horn to tilt downwards?
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Your teeth and jaw shape affect up and downstream. I know of upstreamers that angle down and downstreamers that play straight out.

    What is important is posture. Your head/neck should be straight. When your neck is bent, you restrict all sorts of stuff and that makes you play sharper, thinner and much less efficient. If her head is straight and the horn is down, no problem. In that case she probably has little pressure on the upper lip, and that is GREAT!
  4. Jurandr

    Jurandr Pianissimo User

    Feb 23, 2008

    Thanks for your explanations on page 1. I've been having some trouble with higher range and your stuff with head-tilt really helped me out in band today. I'm gonna have to iron it a bit, especially because it goes against my natural instinct, but I think your advice is going to help me greatly. Thanks ;)
  5. ChaseFan

    ChaseFan Banned

    Mar 25, 2008
    There are different versions or sub-types of downstream embouchure.

    As Rowuk pointed out, some point their instruments almost level, while others point their instruments significantly downward.

    Your friend should play with whatever trumpet angle gives her the best tone and endurance and range.
    She can spend just a couple of minutes experimenting with different trumpet angles do verify which trumpet angle is best for her.

    Trying to imitate the mouthpiece placement or trumpet tilt of other players is wrong, because different players have different embouchures.
    And even if they have the same general embouchure type, they might have a different embouchure sub-types.
    And even people with the same embouchure sub-type will have somewhat different mouthpiece placements and trumpet tilts.

    The girl in the following video plays with mouthpiece on the right side of her mouth, and her trumpet tilt is down.
    That would be terrible for some players, but it is obviously perfect for her dental and jaw structure, as shown by her great tone and flexibility and range.

    YouTube - Il Silenzio (Trumpet Solo)

    By the way, does anybody know where I can get the sheet music to that song?
    I cannot transcribe because I am almost tone deaf.

    I found free online sheet music of "Il Silenzio" at
    The girl in the video is playing a slightly different arrangement, but close enough.
    I love that song.
    I love that video.
    I love that girl's fantastic playing.
    Another YouTube video of that concert says that the girl's name is Melissa Venema, and the conductor's name is Andre Rieu.
    YouTube- Andre Rieu - Il Silenzio (Maastricht 2008) DIGITAL TV

    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
  6. ChaseFan

    ChaseFan Banned

    Mar 25, 2008
    All players with all embouchure types, both upstream and downstream, should keep their chins somewhat down, with the chin approaching the chest but not touching it, chin down to a comfortable degree without straining to get it down.
    Your head will be tilted downward/forward as though you are looking at something on the ground a few feet in front of you.

    But the mouthpiece placement and trumpet tilt will differ a lot between upstream embouchure and downstream embouchure.
  7. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Wow, that's contrary to everything I've ever been taught and have read. For most people if they keep their chin down, they are pinching their throat a bit and limiting the amount of air which can flow.

    I think I would be hard put to suggest any posture for "all players with all embouchure types" since everybody is unique and needs to find the best posture/head-position which allows the best airflow, tone control, range, etc. For some it will be with the back curved slightly backwards and the head up, for others it will be with the head at a perfectly normal (for them) position and angle and the trumpet brought up to their mouths, for others they might find it best to angle the head down.

    The only thing I think I would feel comfortable suggesting for "all players" is to work with a good teacher and arrive at what a trained trumpet playing teacher and the player find to work the best.
  8. ChaseFan

    ChaseFan Banned

    Mar 25, 2008
    "It is very important that you not minimize the imporatance of keeping the throat area open and relaxed by keeping your head back and chin down."
    - Manny Laureano quoted at

    "Mr. Faddis... suggested that the student try to stand as if hanging from a hook attached to his spine, and to keep his air passage open by keeping his chin down (so that the oral cavity remained perpendicular to the throat)"
    ITG 99 Jon Faddis Masterclass

    "keep the chin down" - Mouthpiece "How to Choose a Mouthpiece"

    The whole purpose of lowering the chin to a comfortable level is to keep the throat open.

    Donald Reinhardt said to keep the chin down to a comfortable level while moving the head slightly back on top of the neck in order to keep the throat open.

    "Reinhardt's approach to posture was similar to what other brass teachers have written, but with perhaps more detail on specifics. Like others, Reinhardt felt that correct posture was the foundation of correct breathing. In order to accomplish correct posture the student was instructed to keep the head in a position described as slightly backwards and downwards with a relaxed neck. The spine should be slightly arched backwards as well with the arms kept away from the body. This body position is to be maintained regardless of whether the student is sitting, standing, or marching. Reinhardt further warned, "Remember, the word "relax" does not mean collapse! Relaxing suggests a loosening of the muscles, but collapsing indicates an alteration of some kind or other." (Reinhardt, Encyclopedia of the Pivot System, page 19)."
    An Introduction to Donald S. Reinhardt's Pivot System

    As I stated previously, the player should not force his chin down, he should not strain to lower his chin.
    He should simply lower his chin to a comfortable level.

    Look at the photo at
    Maynard's chin was down relative to his chest.
    If Maynard's spine had been in the vertical position, then his head/chin would have been tilted downward at a 45 degree angle.
    That chin-down position definitely did not limit the amount of air that could flow in Maynard Ferguson's playing.

    The reason that the chin should be down for all embouchure types is that the throat-to-lungs airway is completely independent of the embouchure type, they don't touch each other.
    But all players have the same shape of airway leading from throat to lungs, so all players should keep chin down to keep that airway open.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
  9. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Okay -- now I understand. It seems as if these people are talking about lowering the chin for a person who has raised it unnaturally, not lowering it unnaturally.

    If that's what you mean, then I agree -- the chin should be at a normal angle, not forced up nor down from what it normally is.

    The danger with saying things like "lower the chin" without actually being there right with the person is that some people are going to lower it beyond where it normally is when their head is as it usually is. And that will restrict the air passage and limit the air flow.

    The ideal is to have the most relaxed throat with the most open passageway, no matter how a person has to move their head -- I've seen some fine trumpet players with their heads and chins raised. I've never seen a good trumpet player with their chin down practically on their chest.

    I think we're basically in agreement. :-)
  10. ChaseFan

    ChaseFan Banned

    Mar 25, 2008
    What you just wrote doesn't agree at all with what the people said in the quotes I gave.
    They aren't saying that you should have your chin in the normal position that you would have if walking down the street looking straight ahead.
    Instead, when playing trumpet, the chin is lowered closer to the chest.
    As in the photo of Maynard Ferguson I linked to, if his spine were straight up and down, then his head would be tilted downward at a 45 degree angle so that he would be looking down at the ground.
    Because, while playing trumpet, Maynard's chin is lowered closer to his chest than when he is just walking down the street, and his head is slid slightly backward so that his head is resting more centered over his neck,just a Reinhardt described.

    But this is a free country and you can play trumpet any way you like :-)

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