Embouchure Change... Well Kinda.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Jazzy816, Aug 17, 2015.

  1. Jazzy816

    Jazzy816 Pianissimo User

    Jun 5, 2013
    Hi all,

    It's been awhile since I've browsed the TM forums and I always enjoy coming back to see what new things us brass players think about to discuss. Anyway, on with my question.

    Ever since I can remember, (probably around 7th grade) I have always placed the mouthpiece off center, to the right. I never really thought much of it, seeing as at that time and throughout the beginning of high school, I didn't really have any problems with playing off center. After my braces came off 2 years ago, however, things haven't been where I want them to be. I found playing quietly to be much harder than I had remembered pre-braces. Looking back on it, I would infer that pre-braces, my teeth were such that I had to play off center for comfort or air purposes, and post-braces, I didn't have those issues anymore, but continued with the old placement. I talked with my private lesson teacher about it and we deduced it down to some sort of embouchure imbalance. Also, my tone wasn't as centered as it should have been. I've never had a "problem" with tone per say, it's always been resonant, open, and non pinched... it just seemed like the sound wasn't centered after the braces came off which resulted in an adequate, but not ideal tone/ sound. So these two things combined, and them being pretty much the only large roadblocks in my current playing career, I started thinking about sliding the mouthpiece over closer to if not on center. I had tried this before, but only for a few minutes to test and see if anything was immediately apparent. This time, I spent an entire practice session testing out the results of playing with the mouthpiece centered (the whole time I stayed within the "meat and potatoes" range). This was a week or so ago. After the session, my tone was more centered than I had ever heard it be before in my entire playing career, and nothing else seemed to have taken a negative impact aside from range, but I had somewhat predicted that one. I brought up my findings to my lesson teacher and played for him using both the new and old placement and he was blown away by how different it sounded, after only having worked a few days with the mouthpiece in the center. After some talking and weighing options, he decided that based upon the improvements in such little time, and the practically non existent negative effects, that should I continue to pursue playing with the mouthpiece centered. It's been about a week and a half now, I am seeing steady improvement in sound with still very little downfalls aside from the tanked range, but like I said, I expected that one. I couldn't be happier about how I sound and am looking forward to what lies ahead.

    My question; since this really isn't an embouchure change, (I'm not setting different, I'm not changing upper/lower lip usage, I'm not changing tonguing attacks, I'm not changing anything aside from sliding the mouthpiece to the center), is anyone able to give a rough guestimate of how long of a process this will be? I would imagine that it varies by person, and that it may not be something that can be precisely calculated, but I am just curious as to a general time frame. Since it's not an all-out embouchure change, I would guess it won't take as long, but that's just my relatively inexperienced knowledge taking a stab at what is probably a very involved question.

    Anything is welcomed and appreciated,

  2. Tomaso

    Tomaso Pianissimo User

    Oct 2, 2014
    New York City
    There's a guy on YouTube who says he has a way to find out exactly where the MP should be placed.
    He wets his lips and wets the MP rim, then, blowing gently, slides the MP across the lips to the spot that sounds and buzzes best. Then he repeats it, blowing more gently, again finding the "best" spot. Then he repeats it barely blowing.
    He claims that the method will find the best spot for each individual.
    I noticed that each time the spot location changed a bit. He ended up blowing a bit off-center. I tried it and ended up in the middle where I normally play.
  3. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    Pretty much agree with the above - the sound is everything.

    Many people, myself included, form an off-centre aperture. I play slightly left which is where the air naturally wants to go for me due to teeth and lip formation I guess. I don't think that screwing your face up to achieve some sort of golden symmetrical ideal is a positive move unless you have a highly experienced tutor telling you to do this. Even then I'd have my doubts.....

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