Embochure Change

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by CalebWayne, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

    Oct 5, 2010
    I can always count on Rowuk to "tell it like it is". ;-)
    His experience helps the rest of us avoid wasting time and effort.

    Good luck with what ever you decide.

    Best Wishes,

  2. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    I really don,t agree with evolution vs. revolution theory. If a student is playing incorrectly,it's our job to correct it. Mouthpiece placement is not embouchure. Embouchure is how we use our lips,jaw and tongue. Two players might place the mouthpiece in the same position on their lips ,but use lips,jaw and tongue differently.So you can change your embouchure with out changing mouthpiece placement, or change mouthpiece placement with out changing embouchure. So if this player is changing only placement to correct deficiencies in his playing, it may be called for.

    I've been teaching over forty years,and have had to change two students placements. Both played out of the corners of their mouth ,with almost no top lip in the cup. No amount of lip slurs ,long tones,scales,etc. was going to change this with out physically moving the mouthpiece.

    It may seem like a lot of players on this site and others are changing embouchure, and mouthpiece placement, but we're talking about a much larger population(global) than own(local) communities.
  3. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

    Oct 5, 2010
    I think maybe we are getting lost in a matter of degrees. The situations that you describe are all resonable things to correct immediately if you can. I am referring to the situation when everything is generally OK. That is, allowing for physical differences, everything sounds OK but will be improved with additional practice.

    For example, I saw a wonderful (pofessional) trumpet player whoes mouthpiece sat distinctly off center. He had a beautiful sound and technique. I wish I could sound and play like him. It would seem silly to make him play on the center of his lips just for the sake of it. It would also be silly for me to try to play distinctly off center as he does, just to sound like him. Perhaps that is the most natural for him based on his face structure and dental anatomy.

  4. erd402

    erd402 Pianissimo User

    Mar 21, 2009
    West Virginia
    I'm going through my own embouchure change right now. I believe I'm about a month and a half into it. So far it's been a very long process. I played with barely any top lip in the mouthpiece, it just kind of sat on top of the rim. How I even made a sound, let alone actually play decently, with it like that I'm not sure. Now I'm playing up to around a G on top of the staff. Last Saturday I played a duet arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner for a local race which went very well. My part only went up to an E but I still saw that as a major accomplishment considering the fact that the first day I could only play an embarrassed low C while now I can confidently play with my new embouchure in front of a large crowd of people. Do I think the change is worth it? Yes. For me, it has made my sound much more pure. I think that my sound has changed drastically, and its been in a beneficial way. Would I recommend a change for anyone else? I wouldn't support it or condone it because I don't know your situation. That's why I believe all that can be done from the position of being a member of a forum talking to someone possibly 100s of miles a way is advice. This is what could happen if you change and this is what could happen if you don't change. I've noticed improvements in some areas of my playing, but at the same time I have to temporarily sacrifice my range. Depending how you're playing if you continue with you're current set up it could lead to problems down the road. It's just such a personal issue that no one can give specific advice to you without actually being with you.

    When I started my embouchure change I told my band director what I was doing and that I was going to need time to get back to where I was. Using this time of low expectations is a great chance to make other changes to your playing. Here's a couple of other things to CONSIDER while you also CONSIDER an embouchure change. Notice the word consider... Give yourself a couple weeks to think it through before you make any decisions.

    Time for some honesty. I know I do not breathe efficiently. In fact, a large amount of wind players don't. Half the time we think we're playing "embouchure instrument" and not a "wind instrument". Just as much time spent working with your embouchure should also be spent with breathing. We all have different embouchures that work individually for us. There is no right/wrong embouchure, you just use whatever works. I agree with Rowuk that certain exercises will evolve your embouchure to work in the best way for you. Breathing is a bit different. While one guy might play with a closed embouchure and the next guy might be sticking his tongue through his lips before he plays to make sure he's got them open wide enough, I can assure you that if they are both playing on a professional level that they are getting a big breath in there. Without proper breathing you just won't get anywhere with playing trumpet. Well-supported air is essential to creating a full sound, and proper breathing is essential to well-supported air.

    I was talking to Greg Wing (fantastic player and professor at Morehead State University) and he was telling me that to make a successful embouchure change you need to have a good teacher and have confidence in them. If you don't think they know what they are doing, or if you don't have full confidence in their advice, get a new teacher. You need guidance for a journey like this and if you don't feel confident in your teacher to get you through this then you need to find someone who will

    I'd take all advice from anyone as a consideration. Good luck with whatever you decide. I'm also open to anyone shooting down some of my ideas and arguments.
  5. tpsiebs

    tpsiebs Piano User

    Feb 6, 2010
    Randolph, New Jersey
    I've been teaching only 30 years but agree with Al. Almost anyone can get lots better with their current setup given a constructive routine. Can a new setup potentially get you further? No doubt, but getting a tuneup on your car won't make your milage better if you are guilty of "jackrabbit" starts out of traffic lights. Your personal playing habits need to be examined and adjusted as well.

    The "textbook" 2/3 top lip / dead center embouchure is not gospel and you can look on YouTube and note many, many, many variations among extremely successful players. Except for the extreme cases like Al mentions only a few parameters are non-negotiable: thinking left to right, the mouthpiece should be placed somewhere in the middle third of the lips; thinking up and down, there is a greater variation however, many would agree that Farkas had it pretty close to right - the point in the center of the top lip where the "red" and "white" come together should be in the mouthpiece. But, there is a lot of debate about that and as nothing is etched in stone and no one has the same combinations of lips, teeth and jaw structure, this is subject to variation and consequently experimentation under the watchful eye of a qualified, experienced teacher/performer. I say it in that way because some of the worst teachers I've had were the best players - they just didn't know how they did it and could explain it for beans.

    Rome wasn't built in a day. However, it burned in a week. You'll be tempted to "cheat" and revert to something more comfortable and familiar. You'll know you're making progress when the "old way" is no longer comfortable and doesn't really work too well anymore.

    Patience and best of luck.

  6. hichez

    hichez Pianissimo User

    Jul 13, 2009
    Well this topic seems to come up a lot and I don't see why rowuk just doesn't make sticky about it. Why hasn't anyone asked about his practice habits or what level he wants to play trumpet at. I don't fine those things irrelevant. It sound like he is at the college level so I bet he is serious.

    Just by common sense you can see the effects of unnecessary embrochue changes in players you can't adjust to braces. Things just don't happen right. This is a big decision that only you can make. If you are nervous im sure one of your instructors would be willing to talk about it. But im just a random guy off the street all im saying is make a decision don't half ass anything.
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I don't sticky this because it is my belief that the "embouchure" change issue is viewed as a silver bullet - many times before any dues have been paid at all. There is such a small group of players with real issues like this that I prefer for it to come up on occasion and be dealt with individually.

    In 35+ years of teaching, I haven't even had to change a handful of players. Even those couple of changed that I did do, benefitted far more by getting their body use worked out. The changes that I did do were downstream to upstream. The players teeth and jaw formation made this relatively easy to figure out. We had two lessons per week for the first 4 weeks.

    I consider real embouchure changes to be very special and for most players not the most useful strategy. I am happy for any player that is lucky enough to find a fine teacher. Judging from Al Innellas posts, I would have no reservation about his methods. I don't consider this to be either or.
  8. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    My professor had me move the mouthpiece down. It worked, and I would bring a pen with me to the practice room, place the mouthpiece where it was supposed to be, and write a dot on my top lip. I spent a lot of time with the mirror, sucked for about six months and came out a much better player. I was even called "world-class" in Germany (which doesn't really mean a thing) but could play anything put in front of me, showed up on time for rehearsals and practiced my tail off.

    It isn't all about air or breathing or intent. I believe that in some cases we do need to make changes in where the the mouthpiece sits.

    Wish you the best!
  9. Carlw

    Carlw New Friend

    Aug 5, 2009
    Thanks Brother, I will indeed check out that link.

    Ok, group double-c

  10. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010

    This is what my teacher likes to see ... Embochures finding their own natural place that works. This is why he recommended the Caruso method for me .... there are exercises early that naturally help you to do this, as Caruso points out in the text.:thumbsup: Lip slur exercises .... Have also helped me work it out.


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