Embouchure change questions

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by VarsityTrumpeter, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. VarsityTrumpeter

    VarsityTrumpeter New Friend

    Nov 27, 2009
    My private instructor is having me change my embouchure. It started after I had a lesson which I had not played 5 days prior to (due to illness), and I couldn't buzz anything on the mouthpiece. I adjusted the angle of the mouthpiece how he told me to, and I was suddenly able to get a little buzz out. Keep in mind that before being sick I could always buzz on the mouthpiece before playing.
    So I have to work on this new embouchure, and all I can really work on right now are the exercises he assigned to me, as well as breathing exercises when resting the muscles that form the embouchure.
    My airstream when I play is, and always has been, on a downward angle, but I've always played on an upward angle, which I belive I became used to from marching band my Freshman year. I had most of the mouthpiece below the lower lip, and very little above the top. I always applied a ton of pressure to play high, and my tone has been okay. Every note I played was sharp.
    With the new embouchure, I feel that I have the potential to become a MUCH greater player. My intonation is incredibly greater. I've gone from probably about 20 cents sharp to almost completely in tune on almost every note I can hit.

    I have some general questions though about the embouchure change, how my progress might seem to be coming along, and other such things.

    I started the change coming up on 8 days. My range was, on a good day, up to an E above the staff, but it was a very thin, un-good sounding note. So it is probably safest to say my best sounding consistant note was a C above the staff. Now, with the new embouchure, my comfortable range is only up to a top space E, but I feel that the F is coming along soon. If I were to play note by note, slowly ascending on a Bb concert scale, I can sometimes get up to an A above the staff (oday was my first time hitting it), but it feels a bit uncomfortable. Would the reason for this be just simply that my muscles are adjusting and are not used to this new embouchure formation?

    Also, I may or may not have mentioned this, but my mouthpiece position on my face is now mostly upper lip, a little on the lower lip, and quite centered.

    General questions:
    When I'm having some trouble with notes, what is/are the reason(s) for this happening?
    How long, generally, would it take for me to be able to get back to play up to my previous range (up to a C above the staff). (When I say this, I mean actually being able to get up there in music, not just exercises.)
    Are the signs I have described good signs of how I am progressing? I know it's pretty vague, and not easy to judge over an online description.

    There are a couple things that are also worth mentioning. During the exercises, I seem to be getting fatigued somewhat quickly. I don't feel fatigued, but I see the red mark of the mouthpiece above and below my lips, and my sounds gets really flat. Is this just something that is typical when beginning an embouchure change?

    I know this is a LOT to read, but I really appreciate it if you took the time to read and answer. I know it is best to have my instructor evalate me, but I won't be having a lesson for another week, and he couldn't get a lesson in for me this week, so I just wanted some sort of feedback on how I am doing.

    Answers are much appreciated!
    Thank you!
  2. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    General questions get general answers -- it depends. Everybody is unique, everybody's problems are unique, and since none of us have heard you prior to this embouchure change and none of us can hear you now, we can't really comment on how long anything will take you.

    Your private teacher is the one to be asking these questions of, not us. Patience is always a virtue and never more than when making a change or when healing from an injury or surgery or illness. You need to trust your teacher or find a new teacher. And you also need to forget what you used to be able to play when you make a major alteration in your playing such as with an embouchure change. You need to approach all of this from the viewpoint of a complete beginner.

    When you started playing the trumpet, how long did it take you to get up to a solid high C? It might well take you that long again, or it might take you very little time. There is no single answer that will apply to everybody.

    Regarding the fatigue factor, you are using some of the same muscles in a new way and you're using some new muscle tissue in your embouchure -- any radical change in muscle usage will lead to fatigue more quickly than with the muscle usage you've done for years.

    But if your are truly playing in tune now and your tone is good (even if you don't last as long yet) then you're on the right path. Whether your progress is at a good rate or not is entirely up to your teacher to determine, not us.

    Patience, young grasshopper, patience. :)
  3. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Patience, young grasshopper, patience. :)
  4. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Due to a non trumpet related injury I sustained to my upper lip in high school,I had to change my mouthpiece placement because of scar tissue. This took me many months, it happened about 43 years ago so I don't remember exactly how many , but I do remember getting discouraged and wondering if it would ever feel comfortable again , and would I ever regain at least the same range and endurance I had before.
    I'm glad I hung in there ,because it did work , and made it possible for me to continue playing to this day. Listen to your teacher and be patient , give it at about 6 months, if there's still no improvement then I seek a second opinion.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Forget about EVERYTHING that you had. Embouchure changes completely alter everything. Many can get prepared for 6-12 months of frustration, others just keep going.

    You should not even THINK about range or endurance for at least 6 months. You should blindly follow your teacher who hopefully knows what they are doing.

    The only playing advice that I can give is to try and get in 2-3 hours per day of very soft playing. The harder you work in the mid and low range where there is little stress and tension, the sooner you have a stable base to build the rest. I can't emphasize soft playing enough!!!!!!!!!

    It is possible with an embouchure change that you will NEVER get your old range back, but a thin E doesn't count anyway.

    My take: if it was meant to be, then it will. For the rest of us, we just have to work HARDER!!!!!!!
  6. Nikv

    Nikv Pianissimo User

    Jun 20, 2009
    Santa Barbara, CA
    I went through an extreme embouchure change myself. And it took me about a year to get at all facilitated. It was essentially starting over.

    About your troubles-- most likely you are using muscles that you have never used before, and so they are, at best, just above starting over.

    When will you get high notes back?
    That depends on three things-- how drastic the change was, how quickly your body adapts to change in general, and how much time you put in. (The latter, of course, being the most important.)
    My change was by far the most drastic it could have been, and here's how long it took me:

    I made my change at the very end of my Freshman year of highschool (When I first changed, I had an elementary school range-- a solid C in the staff) and started off playing 1.5 hours every day. By summer, I bumped it up to 2 hours, and Sophomore year to 2.5. This past summer I was practicing 3.5 hours every day, but during this first half of Junior year difficult classes have forced me to scale back to 2.5. (Luckily next semester I will be able to push it back to 3.5.) Over this period of time, I have gotten back my range to a High Concert G and hope to continue improving. Make sure you're practicing from all the major named books; Arban's, Stamp, James Thompson (Buzzing Book), Clarke, Schlossberg, Bai Lin (Highly recommended). And in looking for range, make sure you practice about 40% soft. When your muscles are ready, soft playing will push your high range daily.

    I'm really glad you're so confident that it will improve your playing, etc.
    But something that bothers me, is that it doesn't sound like your teacher noticed it right away.
    When my embouchure change started, it was because I started under a new teacher, and he noticed the problem (because he used to have the same one!) within lesson #1.

    As long as you know that the change was right for you, I wish you best of luck, and all successes from now on.

  7. VarsityTrumpeter

    VarsityTrumpeter New Friend

    Nov 27, 2009
    Thank you for the replies, everyone. I am going to ask my instructor these questions as well when I get into my next lesson. I didn't plan on posting anything on here.. but my instructor hasn't replied to my emails for 7 days, and there were important questions in those emails. He probably wants to answer them in person, but he could at least say that.
    I do realize that I think he should have noticed this before. He knew I had mouthpiece pressure issues with my upper lip, but I guess it never occurred to be an embouchure problem. That's about 3 months there that I could have used.
    But thank you again for the replies. I'm glad I was able to get some advice, as well as an answer to the fatigue problem. Hopefully everything else will get straightened out in my next lesson!
  8. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    Lord grant me patience and grant it to me NOW!!

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