Embouchure change/comeback player

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Scottyent, Apr 5, 2013.

  1. Scottyent

    Scottyent New Friend

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    Feb 28, 2013
    Hi all, this is my first post on the forums, but I have been reading from them for awhile now. There is a lot of great information! I thought I would introduce myself, and ask for a little bit of advice in regard to my playing.

    My background: I started trumpet in 3rd grade, and played through until HS graduation. Unfortunately, as I did this, my embouchure placement went farther and farther right...and ended up almost touching the end of my mouth. My trumpet teacher at the time said if you aren't going to play professionally and just wanna do this for fun, lets just leave it. So I did. Then I decided in college I wanted to be a trumpet performance major, and began the process of putting my mouthpiece back in the center. I practiced diligently for 1 year, and while my tone and sound was very good (much fatter than before) in the normal register, I could not even really play a G above the staff. I didn't have the best range before the switch (I was no screamer), but at least playing A's and B's was possible when it came to high notes in any band/orchestra piece. I got so frustrated, and discouraged with my playing that I ended up switching majors and schools at the same time.

    Anyway, for the next 3 years I did little playing. Then I met a girl in Germany, and moved here to be with her...selling my trumpet in the process to fund the move. I figured I could get one later. However, living in an apartment building, and not having the money to buy one, the last 2 years have gone by without playing. The last 5 months I have been practicing very regularly with just my mouthpiece, and just bought a new Solista Tribute trumpet which will be there in a few weeks when I move back to the states (very excited!)

    From what I have been reading, I am going to be focusing on air support, long tones, pedal tones, and other exercises to strengthen my chops when I finally get back on the horn. I've been doing the best I can with a mouthpiece, but you can imagine how 20 minutes a day gets pretty dull after months of just hearing that buzzing sound. I am hoping it will pay off by allowing me a decent sound when I get the horn, but we will see.

    I know that sometimes people say an embouchure change will take years to get back to where you were...and I guess that is the case with me. Because my mouthpiece was so far over, virtually zero lip is shared with how I played for my entire life as a trumpet player. So I guess getting any decent range is just going to take awhile, but I thought it would be less than a year :/ Can people that have experience in this area maybe comment on that? I have also heard that some people never reach where they were, and that thought definitely bothers me.

    Coming back to it, I am determined to keep at it, and treat it more as my enjoyment and fun time for half hour to an hour a day, instead of the drilling and constant measuring of improvement that it was when I was in college. I hope that I will gradually start to gain range, and hopefully find a community type band that I can play in to keep things going!

    I'm looking forward to the journey, and to speaking with you all about all things trumpet related!
     
  2. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

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    With proper training, hopefully being lead by a competent teacher, and DILIGENCE, there is no reason whatsoever you can't surpass where you were. I had a 27 year layoff between playing. I too was going to go the trumpet performance route but funds weren't there and the "scholarships" I won would barely pay for a Monette Prana mpc.! I got a great job to save the money to go back. It never happened. Finally got the urge to play again when my kids took music lessons. They would ask questions and it stirred the pot. Anyway, when I started back, it was awful. I could barely play a fourth space E! My warm-up was my practice session as I was soooo out of shape, my lips were shot after 10 minutes. The hardest part I faced was being hard on myself and thinking, "What's the point?". Long tones, chromatic ascension,mpc buzzing with a B.E.R.P., playing my "hose" trumpet in the truck, learning all the major and minor scales (again) and then pushing through the "suckiness" was not easy at first. When I found an outlet for playing at my church (couldn't believe they would want me) it was the way to stay focused. You need to treat it as fun but you do need an outlet and loose goals. 7 years later, I am playing the best I have ever played. Useable range is high G :woop::woop::woop:, and now it's a labor of love. Enjoy the journey.
     
  3. Scottyent

    Scottyent New Friend

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    Feb 28, 2013
    Wow! What an experience! Thank you so much for sharing your story, it really gives me some confidence and makes me feel better about the whole process. I have a BERP, and will continue to use it when I get back to the horn, and I definitely want to try the mouthpiece and tube trick while in the car :-) Seems nice to always have the ability to practice, even when you don't have a trumpet handy!

    I'm hoping to find a local band of some sort to be my way to stay focused. Not only would that give me goals like the church did for you, but it also just makes playing a heck of a lot more fun. I love the trumpet the most when I am making music with others, and always practicing on your own gets old at some point. Having orchestra pieces and band pieces stuck in my head again, and just dying to play it again at next rehearsal...I miss that feeling :-P

    Thank you again for the encouragement, I will certainly think of your story and others like it on the journey :-)
     
  4. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

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    Here's something else I do that keeps it interesting. I have Fios and a bunch of "useless" music channels with every style imaginable. When no one's here, I'll play a little salsa, some big band swing, arena rock and so on. Makes improv less intimidating!
     
  5. Scottyent

    Scottyent New Friend

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    I really like that idea! When I was in college, when I felt really burned our from just exercise after exercise, I would occasionally turn on the radio, and noodle around trying to get the notes and doing some freestyle. You're right, it certainly makes it less intimidating, and must improve the ear as well!
     
  6. Bwanabass

    Bwanabass Mezzo Piano User

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    Hi and welcome!

    I am also a comeback player, and know exactly what you mean about the seemingly incessant buzzing an long tones. I'll share what I have been doing to break up some of th monotony: I bought an Abersold "How to Improv" book (I think the very first volume). It comes with a play-along cd that the player uses as an accompaniment. The disc is made up of tracks that follow various chord progressions, and is designed to give you a setting in which to practice improvising while following key changes. I put that on and simply play along in dynamic long tones. When the key changes, I switch notes, usually the root of whatever the chord is at that moment. I will also work in some scales and arpeggios to keep it interesting. This way, it's 2 birds with 1 stone- I learn jazz progressions while I work long tones, scales, and arpeggios. Just my 2 cents. Best wishes!
     
  7. fredthewhale

    fredthewhale Pianissimo User

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    Jun 12, 2011
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    welcome to the forum!

    i'm a returning player as well (personal rant: i'm not fond of comeback player for myself because i don't know where i'm coming back from ;- )

    my history is that i went through music school (about 20 years ago), graduated, quit, and sold almost all my horns.

    my trumpet teacher, during school, tried to change my embouchure too quickly and it was a complete disaster. I had been playing for 15 years and he tried to completely change the muscle groups and “operation” of my embouchure over summer break (3 months).

    i was finally able to look at my remaining trumpets again a couple years ago and started rebuilding. the embouchure that i tried to move toward in music school WAS a more effective / efficient embouchure for me, but it was simply done too quickly and under performance pressure.

    i have spent two years rebuilding and reworking my embouchure, and i feel that i'm getting a lot of my strength back. i'm sure that i could have done this faster, but this time i'm playing for enjoyment and have no need to rush. plus, i used to travel for my job and there was really no way i could have done it any faster.

    i like the speed that i've taken - it was / is right for me. because i took it so slowly, i took the time to really analyze how i played, put a lot of thought into how i wanted to play, found a lot of the bad habits that i had in school, and have started removing them (the habits).

    my performance, flexibility, range, and enjoyment is way beyond what i had in my peak. and i'm ecstatic about the results.

    Generally, it’s imperative to have a good and patient teacher walk you through the process. If you were anywhere near Robin (Rowuk), he sounds as if he’d be amazing. (Sidebar: I’m sure there are other wonderful teachers in the area, and I don’t want to talk down others in the forum. I’ve found much of his philosophy compatible to mine. Plus he has the cool MJ avatar ;- )

    I sure everyone’s process is unique, but this really worked for me.

    I’m happy to chat further offline, if you like.

    I wish you well and I hope these thoughts were useful.
     
  8. Scottyent

    Scottyent New Friend

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    Feb 28, 2013
    I really like this advice! Playing with an accompanying CD was something I was looking forward to, since it's kind of like being in a band...without the band :p and I like your advice of working the progressions in and just simply using the background music while still doing the technical and strength work. Thank you!

    Thank you for your story! Your thoughts were indeed useful, and I am glad to have heard your story. Having someone put a number like 2 years on the time it took them makes me feel better about the time I invested at the time, and especially with your experience of switching too quickly. It gives me more confidence that I just have to really keep working at it, and that eventually things will fall into place. Hearing that you guys have made it back to above where you were is a great encouragement!

    I have a teacher that I had in HS, and perhaps will continue with him after I get into work and get my first check!

    Thanks to everyone!
     
  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Ahhh... this may buy you favor with Vulgano Brother... hmmm... could this have been his daughter? He has an experience with the finer things that are German (well beyond the fabulous beers and wines of Germany)... but I diverge (quit unlike me I may add).

    First, welcome to TM, and now to the theme of the thread: Use the embouchure that is most comfortable and gives you the best sound. From there, then work on range. It will come with good practice skills... and time. Perhaps months, perhaps years. But it will be in a range with YOUR best sound and that trumps any other goal to achieve with the horn, unless you can use your trumpet skills to keep the romance going with your German lady, in which case, that may trump range... but that... is left for the expert advice of our own Vulgano Brother, Moderator supreme!
     
  10. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

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    What's that giant sucking sound I hear??? ROFL
     

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