Embouchure Change- 1 month in....

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by larrygk, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. larrygk

    larrygk Pianissimo User

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    Jan 7, 2012
    Cincinnati
    Curse that high school trumpet teacher who never tried to correct it! Old habits are tough to break. After childhood playing into high school, then dropping it for 25 years and starting 5 years ago, the MPC went to the same place..off to the left and down (i.e. huge amount of upper lip showing). But "got away" with it for 5 years until the jazz charts got more difficult and the gigs got longer. And I never knew what I would get day to day after warming up. But it was "OK". I don't just measure embouchure efficiency by high notes (of which a high E above high C was usually makeable) but endurance and primarily tone. The tone was thin going high. Starting studying with a tremendous pro teacher here in San Diego and I am 1 month into correction: In the middle and about a 60/40 upper to lower lip. It's reasonable comfortable there and not hung up whatsoever on "the middle", but very disciplined about the 50/50 or 60/40. My lips are a bit larger than normal and no dental issues. As we all come with different lips, mouths, throats, muscle, no one can say (IMHO) what progress might look like after 1 month, 2,3,4, a year. At this point, daily routine is comprised of 5 times per day of 20 minute practice sessions (with rests). What am I practicing? More details in a moment, but more than anything aligning, building and strengthening the new muscles, and totally revamping a new way of breathing effectively. Routine: Some hours before actually playing I do the pencil exercise (I have the P.E.T.E but don't use that for the pencil part) and then the Reinhold lower jaw protrusion and hold exercise. Right before picking up the horn, I do a mild smooth mpc buzz until there are no "dead spots" from low F# to about a top line E for about a minute or less. By the way I use a Reeves 41 rim with a 41 C 692s underpart. I have various underparts some of which are heat treated to give it a 10 degree bend to help keep the horn upwards. That works but I am weaning my self off of that to use a straight piece. When playing, with solid recommendation from my teacher, I do Schlossberg (e.g. #14 through 18 to start). That covers the first 10 minutes then I rest. Subsequent sessions include a range building exercise (similar to Maggio stuff) and then on to (might as well keep up with this stuff) chord and scale exercises in all modes and keys. So all of that is great as a plan and after a month and a lot of experimentation on placement and lip details, here is where it is: I have seen where slightly rolling in the bottom lip over bottom teeth and bringing the top lip down as if you are saying "em" is a good way to setup (although my teacher is very insistent on minimizing the set up). This seems to keep the corners locked down and the tendency to go into the "smile" which I have found destroys range and tone. That I know. Most days after a month into it I get a clean E repeatedly through the sessions and a not so clean F and F# hitting G's on occasion with duration (4 beats at 60bpm). Having a pitch meter hooked up to the lead pipe is essential and the good news is this new embouchure keeps my pitch centered to a bit flat to right on (vs. the previous problem of sharp) 100% of the time. If I don't take it real easy on that first 10 minutes of warm up described above, I could be shot for the day. That I have learned, as the muscles try to find their new way. So for those of you that have done a serious changes what did your first month, 2, 3, look like? I have read plenty on this site about embouchure changes but wanted to share my experience so far. Thanks and stay musical...
     
  2. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    If it's working for you (and it sounds like it is) than stick with it. Personally, I am not in favor of embouchure changing, but for you it sounds like you are back to being early in the process of coming back, so it does make sense with the goals you have set.
     
  3. fraserhutch

    fraserhutch Mezzo Piano User

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    Jan 23, 2004
    Novato, CA, USA
    Another ting - be thankful that your high school trumpet teacher didn't mess with your embouchure, that's rarely anything but a recipe for disaster.
     
  4. larrygk

    larrygk Pianissimo User

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    Jan 7, 2012
    Cincinnati
    Thanks. Needless to say, this took a lot of thought to do it or not but I was hitting a plateau, which in my mind was not very high (no pun intended). In the meantime, I book gigs for the rest of my band and it is very helpful to hear them when you are not part of it. Is it "working"? I don't know yet, but trying to swim far enough off the island to make returning out of the question.
     
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    I went though such a phase, and I sucked for about six months. It got better. In my case it was developing the muscles around the chin, which were atrophied, was useful. I did suck for a while, but was convinced that the change would be good. It was.
     
  6. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    I found that giving lectures, day after day after day to medical students has done much to reverse the atrophy around my chin.
     
  7. Bwanabass

    Bwanabass Mezzo Piano User

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    Jan 20, 2013
    Syracuse, NY
    Yeah, I remember in my senior high school year, my good friend and fellow trumpeter (we were 1st and 2nd chair in the top school ensemble) switched private teachers. The new teacher changed his embouchure and his playing suffered terribly. That was at about the midpoint of our senior year, after marching season had ended, and he didn't get close to where he was before the switch by the end of the year. I felt terrible for him.

    If it's a long term commitment to a long term goal and physical change, then I guess you need to persevere through the early difficulties. I prefer the "if it ain't broke" philosophy.
     
  8. larrygk

    larrygk Pianissimo User

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    Jan 7, 2012
    Cincinnati
    And that's the point....it was broken. Most do not want to go through this change with no guarantees of what results you are going to get, including myself. Scary stuff no doubt. But I also employ my teacher to tell me if I can do it or not. He knows I am not willing to throw money at something that useless. So far, thumbs up.
     
  9. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    Hi Larry,
    It sounds like you've been bitten by the trumpet bug. Good for you!!
    As for embrouchure changes, I don't recommend it unless they are using a smile-style or their teeth are seriously malformed. However, it's not what works for me, it's what works for you and that's what's important. Embrouchure changes (from what I've read) to be set can vary due to the technique the teacher is using to make the change and the severity of the flawed embrouchure. For example, is the position graduated in to or perminently set? Is the placement a little off or are they playing through their nose hole? With that said, chances are, people who have went through the change, will have different finish times. The only smidgin' of advice I can give is be consistent and stick with it.
    Dr.Mark
     
  10. eviln3d

    eviln3d Pianissimo User

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    Jun 5, 2013
    I second the, "don't recommend"... I have never really understood the point of making a change if you are satisfied with your tone.... I cringed when I started reading the OP's post and 50/50 60/40... it struck me that sometimes people miss the simple reality that no two people are exactly alike. I've seen people that play with lots of upper lip, lots of lower lip, off to one side or the other... and if it worked for them why should they change it?
     

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