Embouchure Change

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by erd402, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. erd402

    erd402 Pianissimo User

    Mar 21, 2009
    West Virginia
    I was at my lesson today and I mentioned to my private teacher that I've been wondering if an embouchure change would be beneficial to my playing, or possibly necessary. I've gradually been moving the mouthpiece lower and its gotten to the point where I barely use any upper lip. I get enough lip to create a vibration but that's it. I'm not sure how I've been able to produce a good tone with my current set up. What we've decided is after a jazz festival this Saturday I will switch down to the third or fourth part in jazz band and the third part in concert band so that range won't be a big necessity for the time being. My private teacher wants me to start working on forming the embouchure, put the mouthpiece on the lips, and blowing without articulating. Before I was playing with a very open embouchure, so now we are trying to get my lips to stay together while buzzing. I won't see him again until next Tuesday which is when I'm planning on starting my change, but I was wondering what to expect. He was saying that I should be back to my normal playing within 6-12 months but it varies from person to person. I'm not in any rush to get it fixed because I want to make sure it is correct this time, but I was wondering how long others have taken. Since I know some people will say that I should leave it alone, he's not the only one who agrees it needs to be fixed. I talked to Dr. Tim DeWitt who teaches at the college I want to go to and he agreed that it is a good idea. He said that if I'd come up next year he would probably want to change it then so doing it now is a good idea. Anyone know any tips that could help with making this transition as easy as possible?
  2. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    A couple of years ago I read about a few more embouchures, not having paid any particular attention them in the 30 years before that. This was mainly to identify which one I was using myself. In doing so I just tried out over a couple of weeks playing other embouchures (Stephens, Maggio, etc) just in case something there would pleasantly surprise me. In the end I did not change my embouchure, but I was certainly much more aware of my old one, and had a better idea how to make the most of it, and was able correct some errors I was making (e.g. applying too much pressure

    So this isn't so much a tip in making a transition as an anecdote of sorts which illustrates how I approached "fixing" mine. Hopefully your teachers know what they're advising -- I hear plenty of warnings issued about tutors and embouchure changes.

  3. Octiceps

    Octiceps Pianissimo User

    May 5, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    What exactly was wrong with your previous embouchure besides it being too open?

    I would be wary of do-it-yourself embouchure changes. If you have played on the same embouchure for many years and have developed some sort of consistency and have reasonable range and tone, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Don't change an embouchure just because it doesn't "look" right. If you look at pictures of pros, you'll see that they have their horns on all different parts of their faces yet they all sound good. That's the mistake I made last year. My band director (who's also a trumpet player) told me to place my mouthpiece in the center of my lips even though I had played off to the right for 6 years. All aspects of my playing suffered horribly for a year before I finally moved the mouthpiece back to the right side. Moving the mouthpiece back, along with doing exercises out of The Balanced Embouchure book by Jeff Smiley, brought my range, tone, and endurance back and finally solved my problem of playing with too much pressure.

    If you insist on changing your embouchure, make sure you work with your private teacher on it so that he/she can monitor your progress and point out any bad habits that may develop.

    Also, I highly recommend the book The Balanced Embouchure if you are worried about your embouchure. It contains a lot of explanations and exercises for achieving the most efficient embouchure possible and involves an indirect approach that won't interfere with your normal playing while you make the changes. The book has saved my trumpet playing and is the finest embouchure book I have seen to date.

    One last thing. You mentioned that you moved the mouthpiece lower. Are you playing on the red of the upper lip? Is the red of you upper lip on the rim of the mouthpiece or inside the cup? Reason I ask is that playing on the red of the upper lip may cause problems in the future.
  4. trumpettrax

    trumpettrax Piano User

    Mar 18, 2006
    I am by no means an expert or a teacher, but my teacher has me do a lip buzz and then place my mp on the lips while continuing the buzz. As long as the buzz doesn't stop then I have a good mp placement. This is where the mp should go while playing the trumpet. this is different for each player as has been noted in previous posts.


    Nov 21, 2010
    I have heard Balanced Embouchure method is very good, but I am more familiar with Lip Buzzing as it is one of the techniques I use.

    Lip buzzing is an auto-correcting technique that could be used before you go to the extreme of changing your embouchure.

    You could lip buzz with no horn for a week, then add the mp and mp and lip buzz for the next week, then add the horn.

    I painted a simplistic picture, but really you should be working with a teacher who can fine tune things as you go along through the process.

    If the above doesn't help, then you can dive head first into an embouchure change....BUZZ on a baritone or trombone mp for a week and then go from there, but that is a very long road to take.

  6. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    Try this link for some buzzing info. The whole site is good. It sounds to me as if you have a static embouchure where the mouthpiece is "determining" how you play. As range demands increase,so does mpc pressure to the point of excess. Blood flow is then cut of and fatigue sets in quickly. There are good exercises that don't involve any trumpet or mpc. My favorites are the pencil exercise (IN MODERATION !!) and modified pencil exercise using as small a straw as possible and blowing through the straw while raising it.

    The Trumpet embouchure - how to buzz

  7. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    When I was in high school, I made the same change in mouthpiece placement ,because of an injury I suffered to my top lip.
    My teacher had me play soft long tones in front of a mirror ,and reset every time the mp would start to slip.Then he had me work on flexibilities, studies 1+2 in Clarke up to my top note with out straining,all with no pressure.We eventually went on to Arban exercises .

    It took me about 7 months before I was able to play everything I did prior to the change.This was 43 years, ago and I'm still performing to this day.
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I didn't read anything about what is wrong with your playing now, what a different embouchure is supposed to accomplish and why you think that this is better than evolution.

    Embouchure is usually not the silver bullet - breathing is. How often do we read about a player taking up competitive swimming or yoga to fix something that has a much greater chance of improving something.

    I sure hope you don't get so frustrated that you quit - and if you do - please post here to convince others to work on things that will surely help.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011
  9. erd402

    erd402 Pianissimo User

    Mar 21, 2009
    West Virginia
    Basically the problem is I have so little upper lip in the mouthpiece that barely any pressure causes issues with endurance. I'm not sure how to describe it, but I have a thin piece of lip that goes into the mouthpiece but its not even enough to even get into mouthpiece. It is completely covered by the rim. I've talked to Greg Wing front Morehead State University and he asked me to take some pictures and when I do that I might post them on here so you can see what Im talking about. As for having a very open embouchure, I didn't understand that completely and I'll talk to my instructor again next Tuesday. I've heard many people who sound great and play with an open embouchure. I know in Roger Ingram's book he mentions how Maynard would stick his tongue between his lips to make sure his aperture was open enough. I agree that some of these problems could be fixed through proper breathing, and that is something I'm working on. Dr. Tim DeWitt from Alderson-Broaddus College (where I'll hopefully be going) said that he thinks I should go through the change. He knows my teacher and said he has full faith, and that if I don't fix this problem now it may need fixed in college. His advice was to take a couple days without touching the horn to just relax and and clear my mind, then when I come to the horn when I make the switch it would be easier to approach it with a different mindset. I'm definitely not making any change until my next lesson so I'm definitely open to ideas and suggestions. I can print this out and take it with me so we can discuss other ideas and points-of-views. Just as another thought, a friend of mine who had the same teacher attempted an embouchure change which really hurt his playing. A big part was he tried to rush it and didn't stick with it. I know what it can do if you don't give yourself time so I'm making arrangements so that I won't have pressure from anyone to be playing at any certain level by any certain time period.
  10. 11thchair

    11thchair Pianissimo User

    Jan 27, 2005
    Evansville In
    I would like to second Rowuk. I'm taking lesson's from I guy I listened to first. Liked his tone, his range and especially how he made music. Every lesson is long tones to start. How I form the tone - make it as long as I can - and as pure as I can. It has taken a while (I'm in my sixties). But things are improving. My embouchure has changed, but I think as a result of better support. I ended up more in the center of the mouthpiece (I thought I was before - but I wasn't). I started with a gap that I could touch the cup of my mouthpiece with the tip of my tongue and no buzz. Now I'm buzzing, much fuller sound and having fun.

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