Embouchure Change Help!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Trumpetplayer24, Dec 27, 2015.

  1. Trumpetplayer24

    Trumpetplayer24 Pianissimo User

    Apr 3, 2013

    I'm almost six months into a major embouchure change and I feel as though I have hit a wall.

    I have had to start everything from scratch, including having to learn how to tongue correctly.

    I have adapted to the new centre placement well and it is now locked in and I have seen huge improvements in my tone since I started the change.

    I have however seen very little improvement in my range - I can barely play up to a G on top of the stave and have been stuck there for at least 2 months. I have developed a problem with using too much pressure, this is however starting to resolve.

    I am practicing every day but feel as though it is a waste of time as I am seeing no improvement. My routine includes long tones, pedals, lip slurs, practicing pp and scales & arpeggios.

    Can anyone give me any advice or recommend any exercises to improve my range? I am begging to lose my motivation :-(
  2. Dennis78

    Dennis78 Fortissimo User

    Feb 1, 2015
    Quit thinking about it! The watched pot never boils. Don't get so hung up on high range stuff that it ruins the joy of making music for you!
  3. Churchman

    Churchman Mezzo Piano User

    Apr 26, 2012
    Dennis is right. I cannot play the 'high stuff', and never have been able to. I hit an A above C above middle C the other day on my C trumpet, couldn't believe it. Doesn't worry me that I can't though, I play what I can as well as I can, and find plenty of music I can play happily.
  4. Trumpetplayer24

    Trumpetplayer24 Pianissimo User

    Apr 3, 2013
    I used to have a good range up to an E above high C. The embouchure change is ruining the joy of making music because I am not able to do half the things I used to. All I want is to see some progress and be on the way back to where I previously was.

    Not being able to play securely past a G is also stopping me playing in the ensembles I was previously playing in.
  5. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    Many questions here.
    Why did you change your embouchure? Was it broken? Did someone tell you you needed to do so?
    How many years have you been playing? What are your future goals?
    You are going to have to be patient. Perhaps Rowuk can come on here and give you better guidance than I can about this.
    To those who do not think range means anything, if there is a note within reason on the page you cannot play and you have to, you darn well better be able to get it. After a few years of playing or comeback, any decent adult trumpet player should have at least a high C in their range. Note I said decent, not a super star or virtuoso. I've played too many years with nice guys but rather unmusical and rather poor adult trumpet players and have pretty much stopped playing in those kinds of bands. Those guys can't play in tune, can't play softly when necessary, can't count, have no real range about the stave, and make the same mistakes over and over again.
    That ain't joy in music making. I would be much more concerned if you didn't care about getting it back. You do and cannot tolerate the fact that you can't do what you used to do.
    Keep working on it, see a teacher if possible, and always think musically. The high range is not necessarily more difficult if you approach it with good sound and solid air support. Know what you want.
    The mind can do a real number on a player. Don't let it.
    Rich T.
  6. Trumpetplayer24

    Trumpetplayer24 Pianissimo User

    Apr 3, 2013
    Thanks for this.

    I previously played very off centre and very very low down. I was beginning to cause me problems and I knew that I was never going to be the best trumpet player that I wanted to be if I didn't change it.
    I have a teacher who unfortunately has very little experience with embouchure changes and as I live in a very small place, there's not really anyone else with experience who I can turn to.

    I have been playing for 12 years and was working towards a diploma before I made the change - this seems very far off now!
    I have made a very huge step back from where I previously was but it is an important one. It's just so frustrating.
  7. gunshowtickets

    gunshowtickets Forte User

    Mar 11, 2015
    Tidewater, VA
    Well, if you changed your emboucher for technical reasons, you achieved that range incorrectly and "cheated" to get it. Unfortunately, life's hard for the honest man.

    P.S., don't take this post the wrong way. Analogously, I have people who injure themselves though bad technique over the years, tear a labrum, hamstring, whatever, and then have to rebuild and it's always slower.
    "But I got so strong when I did it the other way!"
    "The other way is what landed you here with your herniated disc and an impingement. Do it right, do it once!"

    Doing it right is slow, there are no shortcuts to success.
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Anyone who knows me also knows what my opinion on embouchure changes are. They need to be monitored by someone in the know - who should also have the answer to this question.

    Let's clear up a misunderstanding first: E above high C is NOT good range. For many it is the last note that we can squeeze out with excess pressure. If our range stops at a specific note, we are using too much mouthpiece pressure. That note that we can name represents how much our breathing can compensate and blow open the lips.

    What is required for good range: good habits built on thousands of repetitions. High notes do not need a "special" embouchure, they need first of all good breathing and body habits, what most players would consider "low" mouthpiece pressure and for the most part, patience.

    That being said, even although range is really not an impossible task, many never attain a really decent, reliable upper register. This has to do with many things like sound concept, level of patience and a musical view of what needs to happen above high C.

    In my opinion, there is no high note routine that consistently works across all sorts of players. The first step however is learning to let air do the work, not pressure. The fact that you don't even have a solid G after 6 months makes me question the embouchure change. If we were using monitored exercises that fixed our embouchure through evolution, we would have never had the problems of "revolution" or cold turkey, new placement.

    I use properly played, monitored long tones and lipslurs as core exercises to build good habits. We remove the pressure first, not "move the mouthpiece and hope for the best". I cannot analyse a player without a real one on one physical lesson. I do not think that internet advise will get you out of this hole. I do not know if the embouchure change makes sense or was properly done. I am suspicious of the quality of your change as pressure was an issue! I know nothing about your real dedication, how much you really practice what and HOW you practice.

    All that I can suggest after 8 weeks of standstill is to play softly. Use long tones, lipslurs and easy tunes like from a fakebook or hymnbook. If you are in band and have to use pressure to get through, quit until the summer to get yourself in order. Bad embouchure is often a symptom of other bad habits. You confirmed that the worst habit - pressure, was an issue. Obviously, someone who should be monitoring is sleeping, incapable, or you are not behaving as required.

    I really do not know where to point you. Your teacher should be asking for help -not you.
  9. Tomaso

    Tomaso Pianissimo User

    Oct 2, 2014
    New York City
    What Rowuk said. I'll add one more thing. Stop thinking about the position of your lips and the direction of your blow and strive for the best and most beautiful sound you can achieve. Blow that sound out the bell of the horn and picture it hitting the far wall of your studio. Every time you pick up the horn pretend you are walking out onto the apron of the stage at Carnegie Hall and play to the guy in the third balcony. Not loud, mind, but round and beautiful, and clear.

  10. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    Also with Andrew Carnegie funding its construction, the Carnegie Music Hall attached to the Andrew Carnegie Free Public Library in Carnegie PA only had one balcony. Such was where our high school band performed its two annual concerts and our high school drama club produced its plays. Essential to create the best tone is a well founded embouchure as to reiterate what I've stated prior almost a year ago, at the instant your lips engage the mouthpiece, you have it or you don't. Only you know if you'll ever get it, I might add. Before you ask if I have it, my answer is not always ... but sometimes ... and when I do, I know it just as others will know also.

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