Embouchure Change ...Oh My!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by TrumpEd, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. TrumpEd

    TrumpEd Pianissimo User

    Oct 9, 2008
    I'm a 'older' (returned to school for a music degree) student and while preparing for my recent jury ( if you don't know what I mean by 'music jury' please do not respond!) my professor noticed my mouthpiece was too low on my upper lip. He told me that the entire 'red-meat' of the upper lip is supposed to be inside the cup, the inner rim should be as close to the skin above the lip as possible.:-?

    I had/have the entire mp sitting on my lip with room to spare, you can see the mark. I have big lips and I'm having a lot of trouble making the change. I've even tried a 1-1/2 C and it seems too small for my lips to fit in.:-(

    Any help on changing my embouchure would be appreciated. Please, also, don't try to sell me your favorite mp, I need some real advice here before spring semester.:play:
  2. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    Your professor demanded that you make an embochure change based on the position of the mouthpiece and NOT on the way you sound? You're in a bad situation.

    If your sound is good, range is good, articulation is good, etc, I'd recommend speaking with your professor and asking if the change is absolutely necessary and hearing the reasons why.

    If you have no choice then you need to find someone on the faculty to work with to get through this. I'm not sure what your program is like, but I would imagine that you have some time allocated for instruction, so use that time for this change. You may need to pay for some extra lessons, but i would imagine faculty would give you a discount.

    Ideally you should work with the person who is making you switch. You're obviously doing this to meet his/her expectations, so the last thing you want to do is make a change on your own that is considered "wrong" as well.
  3. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    I'd ask for another professor -- if you've spent the semester in private lessons with that professor and he never noticed until the week of your juries, then he's obviously not paying close enough attention to you.

    Embouchure changes are difficult and usually should only be undertaken with direct supervision of a person who knows you, your playing and can hear what you're doing to know if it might actually help you.

    If you really have to do it on your own, you really need to go back to square one, working on long, low notes. Maybe even going back to very beginning trumpet books such as The Cornet Student Level 1, published by Alfred.

    The hardest thing to do will be to keep the mouthpiece from slipping back into the current "bad" location.

    But actually the person to ask this of is your current trumpet professor -- ask him why he thinks you need the change:
    1) can't you play the range that's required of you with solid tone and good volume?
    2) is the tone weak, thin or pinched abnormally?
    3) how should you change your embouchure -- what exercises precisely he wants you to do.

    And write down his answers, and if he won't give you any, go to the dean of the department and discuss the issue with you.

    It's really an issue which should have been addressed, if it needed to be addressed, at your very first lesson back in September.
  4. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Your objective is to graduate. How do you do what the professor says and not screw up your ability to play which can cause your grades to take a dive?
    I have no advice for you other than to stick to your objective and talk to your professor. I can not imagine any blog site helping a person in such a situation.
  5. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    You need to decide it you trust your teacher. Talk to him about why you need to make a change and try to understand the situation. He may not have mentioned it until now because of other issues in your playing. You also should think about your goals for the trumpet. Is this mpc placement holding you back, and will it be an issue later as you progress?

    If you don't trust the need to make a change, another teacher may be in order, but talk to your current teacher first and make sure you both are on the same page whether that means a new teacher, new embouchure or neither.
  6. ChaseFan

    ChaseFan Banned

    Mar 25, 2008
    As the others in this thread have already commented,
    it is wrong for your professor to change your embouchure simply because he thinks that it "looks wrong".
    An embouchure should be changed if it "plays wrong".
    If your embouchure wasn't playing wrong, then there is no need to change it.

    Your description sounds very much like you have an upstream embouchure mouthpiece placement, but your professor wants you to use a downstream embouchure mouthpiece placement because he erroneously thinks that all players should use the same embouchure type.

    I again recommend that everyone read the testimony of Andrea Tofanelli (former player in the Maynard Ferguson band) who told about the conservatory professor who almost destroyed Tofanelli's upstream embouchure.
    Forum: trumpetherald.com

  7. ryancibc

    ryancibc New Friend

    Nov 8, 2008
    I may have had an emboucher like yours years ago. I used to play with a very open aperture and used a very small amount of upper lip in the cup to play. I was able to produce a good sound and had a range to high C but had almost nothing for endurance.

    I had a teacher back then and was encouraged change to a more 50/50 top bottom lip in the cup. How I made the change was to simply practice beside a mirror. Set the mouthpiece where my teacher felt it should be and then kept it there. I did not remove at all during my practice sessions. I inhaled through the cornors of my mouth and sometimes even my nose. I sounded like garbage for about a week but then after than I started to improve. It was a very hard road to break the normal feeling of the old emboucher but it is possible.

    I had worked with my teacher for a couple of years before the change and we had worked on a lot of long tones and lip slurs to try and increase my endurance. Nothing worked until I made the change. I will point out that my teacher noticed my emboucher from the very first lesson and did not change it until it became a limiting factor in my playing. So it was never get better or try something else.

    I trusted my teachers advice and she guided me through it.

    If the only reason you are being asked to change is for looks I wouldn't do it. Not all emboucher changes work out for the best as mine did.

    Good luck in whatever course of action you take

  8. TrumpEd

    TrumpEd Pianissimo User

    Oct 9, 2008
    I'm sorry for an incomplete background. There is a valid reason for the change & he said he almost never recommends an embouchure change.

    When we started this semester (I've had a horn player as my private instructor until this year) I was using a 14A4a as my primary mp. High F sometimes but I owned high C - Eb. He said to put it away until I get a lead job, I agreed, my sound was thin.

    I went to a 3-C, a 13-B, then a Monette B-6 (current choice). Sound/tone is great but I lost my upper range as expected. As the semester progressed (2 - 4 hrs a day practice - this is a Trumpet Jazz Improv. lesson/class 2-hrs credit & fun:-)) my range has not improved at all. (A to Bb at best) High C is gone after only 10-15 min.:-( That's when we started looking at possible reasons that my range did not improve as expected.

    That's the background, & I do have tremendous respect for this professor. (UNT Lab Band for 3 yrs during his Master's Degree, that's a pretty good resume.) Did I also say he can PLAY the c^@p out of the trumpet & flugelhorn!!
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2009
  9. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Trust your teacher and be prepared to suck for 3-6 months. Mouthpiece placement is vital, and hard to change.

    Good luck!
  10. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    And if you trust your teacher as you say you do, then you need to schedule another lesson with him and ask him for advice on how best to effect the embouchure change.

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