Embochure Change

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

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I see both Al's and Robin's side of the coin on this one. If a player is playing radically off to one side or another, or is playing with extreme upper or bottom lip, I think that a change to mouthpiece placement should be considered. However, I also agree with Robin in that paying dues in the practice room tends to bring the mouthpiece to where it should naturally be based on jaw, lips and teeth.

    Having said that, I know one guy who's college instructor tried to move his placement which was off to one side toward the center, and it almost ruined him as a player, and it took him a fair amount of time to rebuild what he'd lost after he moved things back to where they were to begin with. This is a guy who had a big phat sound and screaming range BEFORE the change - why his teacher thought he needed a change is beyond me, although my friend's theory on the matter is that it was done out of jealousy because his teacher didn't have that kind of upper register range.

    I play off to the left - not radically, but enough that you can see that it's not centered. I play there because that's where my teeth dictate the mouthpiece should be. I have noticed in the last year or so (a fairly new development for me considering almost 30 years on the horn) that if I consciously shift the mouthpiece ever so slightly toward the center that I have much better endurance and strength to my chops over the course of a gig with the party band. I'm not talking about a big shift though - just enough that I know that I've moved toward the center. I'm not quite sure how I came to that realization though - I just know that if I consciously move slightly more toward center, it helps.

    Regarding top/bottom lip positioning, that has also shifted for me over the years, and none of it was done consciously - it was all done in a very natural way and I wasn't even aware it was happening until after it had already happened.

    When I first started taking off with the trumpet in middle school and high school, I played with the mouthpiece really high - we're talking 3/4ths top, 1/4th bottom.

    As I got into the Army band program and started playing a lot more, and the focus of my playing shifted toward needing a bigger, more open sound, (2nd book in the quintet, 2/3rd parts in the concert band and 3rd/4th books in the big band) my mouthpiece placement naturally shifted downward to where I had a 2/3rds bottom, 1/3rd top placement.

    After I got out of the Army and my playing styles shifted to a brighter, more commercial sound in the Latin and party bands, and I started using a smaller mouthpiece, that vertical placement shifted again and now I play about 2/3rds upper, 1/3rd lower. (maybe not quite that much, but it's definitely more on the top lip than the bottom) I didn't consciously shift any of that.
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Because of my decision as a teenager NOT to accept braces, I have crooked teeth and for many years played to the left side. 1997, I switched to Monette mouthpieces and a year later to a Monette trumpet. Within a year, everything had gravitated to more or less the center. I don't know if it was the weight of the instrument, the playing characteristics of the horn, or me paying more attention to body use. I did not even realize that this was happening. I had changed my daily routine to involve more body use stuff.
  3. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    My point is that I would never change someones mouthpiece placement for pure cosmetic reasons.There has to be playing problems. Now I have changed students embouchure's,meaning the way they use their lips,tongue,jaw,pressure,etc.,but again there has to be issues with their playing.

    I personally have gone through both types of changes,the first was placement . An injury to my top lip which resulted in a scar forming while in high school.The second at age 25, was changing what went on inside the cup. I went from playing 3rd and 4th parts ,to lead and scream parts. It was then that I learned the upper register was technique and not brute strength. The second one was 35 yrs. ago. Since Then I worked with many musicians that I used to only dream about.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2011
  4. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    The biggest catch point I read is lip "in" the mouthpiece. IMO this is disaster and cuts off tone and in shallower mpcs can totally kill sound.

    Here in my U.S. locale I am using very small coffee stirring straws to tutor young students to center the mpc. This straw will pass through a mpc. I have students pucker and blow through the straw and then slide their mpc over it until mpc touches the lips and observe the placement in a mirror. Then I have them remove straw without moving the mpc and then buzz the mpc. Through repitition such becomes a habitual act they no longer think about.

    I concur that embouchure change later hasn't shown a statistical consequence towards betterment of a player's ability. Observation shows many pros with embouchures that vary widely.

    Those that know me, know also that soon I'll have to start again at the beginning just like a beginning student ... but at least I'll know when I achieve proper response ... and I'll be happy all along the way.

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