Embouchure change?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Hoss4476, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. Jerry Freedman

    Jerry Freedman Piano User

    Mar 4, 2005
    An embouchure change is a serious thing and to do it without supervision probably unwise. There are many great teachers ( Jeanne Pocius, Pops etc)who give Skype lessons. If you really are going to do the change it certainly couldn't hurt to consult with an expert
  2. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi Hoss,
    You stated:
    "My main problem with trumpet has always been the inability to play high and using too much pressure."
    These are two common things that most trumpet players struggle with. Maybe this will help.
    1. In order to reduce mouthpiece pressure, A couple of things can be done to get the feel of how it should be:
    a) Play soft!! When we play soft and try to apply excessive pressure, the mouthpiece often messes up the lips from occilating. How soft is soft? I should be able to stand next to you as you play and talk with someone and NOT strain to speak or hear.
    b) Here's a quick and easy way to get to high C:
    Go to a mirror and watch your face as you go from low C to high C and back down. What did you notice? Did your face get red as you went up?
    To fix this, quit blowing and straining so much. We can feel when our face fills with blood. When you feel that feeling, quit pushing so much.
    Did your face scrunch up? Do not allow your face to scrunch. Maintain an emotionless face.
    Next. Play the scqale again but this time no red faces (because you're not going to blow so hard) and no scrunched face. As you play your sclae, tip the bell of the horn 'up just a little" at low C and as you ascend, allow the bell of the horn to tip "down" just a little from 4th space E and up. Play soft and emotionless. You should be able to go to high C with little problems as long as you don't tense up or freak out when you get to G above the staff and realize that range isn't that hard.
    I play with a lot of top lip and barely any bottom lip, I have heard 1/2 and 1/2 is correct and 1/3 top 2/3 bottom is alright, but I'm neither its probably 1/4 bottom, 3/4 top.
    Most people (Wynton, Maynard, Mendez, ect.) play with the majority being bottom lip. This kinda makes sense since when we look at just about anyone's face. We generally have more prdominent bottom lips than top lips. Can you imagine a Victoria's Secret model with a thin bottom lip? I don't think so!!

    Today, while I was messing around I curled my bottom lip in, thus making my embouchure close to half and half. When I did this I used absolutely no pressure and could wail high notes left and right. Sounds great, right? Well, not so much, I couldn't play anything below a concert Bb on the staff without moving my embouchure. With the way I usually play with mostly top lip, I have trouble hitting a concert G above the staff with loads of pressure, but with what I did part of practice today I could hit a double G with no pressure at all (but couldn't play low at all). I've been trying so hard to improve my range over time and use less pressure, but to no avail... Should I try the new embouchure and try to work my way low? or should I stick with what I've been doing?
    I do not advise a change in embrouchure or keep doing what you're doing.
    I advocate trying what I suggested for at least a month or two before you potentially mess yourself up. Please give this a month or two. Will it be hard and hard to stick with? Yep. Will it be worth it in a month or two? Yes!
    There's some good reads that can be found on this site that may be of help. They are:
    *Circle of Breath
    *VB Ray of Power
    *The Basics Sheet
    Hope this helps
  3. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    Obviously your current setup is wrong for you or you wouldnt have posted. I remember a teacher who posted here that new students get a swizzle stick centered between the lips. Then, the stick is placed down the throat of the mpc. That is their embouchure. Adjustments are made from there. If your playing sucks as is, a change is warranted. How you go about it though is important. Before you change, why don't you study some different types. Not every embouchure will work well with your face. Arm yourself with knowledge.
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Why does this still keep coming up? Can't anybody read? Only people with a commercial interests advocate "Embouchure changes". Even then, they provide a monitoring service during the process, which normally keeps the "stupid" out.

    My personal take is that it is mostly a WASTE OF TIME. IF players get a life, a decent daily routine and regular practice time, evolution will pull the chops into place. There is no need for messing up your playing for 6 months to a year.

    The real key to getting chops together are tons of very soft, unstrained long tones and lots of lip slurs. All without force, all with proper breath support and body use. A Yoga class is about a thousand times better than an embouchure change - as is going swimming 2-3 times a week.

    Giving up the "upper register" for a month or two is probably the best medicine for preparing a proper foundation.

    The embouchure is NOT the silver bullet. What makes great players great is the fact that their chops, brains, ears and body cooperate at a very high level due to the lack of FORCE in wanting to play stuff that is a little out of reach. Twist your face to get high notes(pressure) and you have to blow harder to even get air through the lips, this raises tension in the upper body that screws up even more.

    Those of you that THINK that you got a great embouchure change, should think about this: maybe the success was not the embouchure change, rather the proper sequence and patience to get the major body factors synchronized. I am sure that those that really turned their playing around did not do so by changing an 80/20 lip proportion in the mouthpiece.

    Save time and money by not wasting your time even thinking about this. Sure, when you stop playing with pressure, range and endurance go down - you really have no serious chops yet.
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Can you prove that? How do you know it was out of commercial interests that I encouraged some students to move the mouthpiece up or down? I only encouraged my students to make changes when their set up was holding them back. Otherwise I let things be.

    My work ethic in high school was the same in college and changing my embouchure was a good thing.
  6. afp

    afp Pianissimo User

    Oct 9, 2013
    Roseburg, OR

    I completely disagree. The OP has a serious problem that will not be fixed by doing the same unsuccessful things over and over. If a dedicated player cannot play above the staff then he has serious issues. I experienced this same issues when I was in high school--I was taught to play with a flat chin and couldn't make a sound above the staff. After two years of diligent practice, I still couldn't play above the staff. The end result was I quit trumpet and music for 20+ years.

    When I came back 12.5 years ago I rejected everything I had been taught before and found the right embouchure for me--a pucker/bunched chin. With this new embouchure I immediately had range above the staff and today I have a solid High G and am knocking on the door of DHC. Instead of playing 4th parts, I now play lead.

    "If you always do what you have always done, you'll always get what have always got."
  7. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    I'm a swizzle stick advocate ... for beginners. After that ...
  8. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    I thought it was your idea but wasn't 100% sure.
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Hey guys,

    you can believe all that you want. NEVER can you reduce a playing problem to one thing-NEVER. That does not mean that every position is the same - but I never said that. Everything is connected. Realizing that is the first step to effectively helping someone.

    Successful playing is ALWAYS the connection of many factors. Changing the embouchure does NOT connect breathing, hearing and body use - in my experience where most of the sins start.

    If a dedicated player does not have range after years of practice, then no silver bullet will cure that. Range starts with a relaxed body, breathing and well developed habits in the lower registers. It continues with a methodical approach to improving what needs to be and not just beating the chops up.

    Pressure works up to a point. Commonly players with (too much) pressure have range that stops at a particular note. That is where the squeeze off factor is more powerful than the breath support. When trying to free yourself from pressure, everything collapses as the habits have been already built.

    I teach evolution. It works and does not deprive the player of being able to function as the body, brain and chops develop. All the pieces come together if we view them together. I have no interest in crash and burn.

    We start with long tones - breathing can be synchronized, the lips can be gently excited into "vibrating" all in a range where pressure is no issue. There is time to focus on body use! Lipslurs provide the most development - but only when practiced at low pressure. Earl Irons has a fantastic book to focus the chops - not like a heavy physical workout, rather light and playfully. The continued expansion and contraction of the lips helps them gravitate to their most efficient position. Scales teach finger patterns to prevent fumbling that also disturbs the airflow.

    The myth of an embouchure change is exactly that. There is no science to "determine" the best position. It is trial and error - generally with many errors and trumpeters that lose patience in the silver bullet they were told to believe in. If you do not view the body holistically, you are doing NO ONE a favor. The secret is the connection. Our body tells us what works if we are gentle with it. To unlearn old habits, we even need more attention paid to the whole body.

    Focussing on the "chops" screws more players than it helps. It places the attention on the part of development most likely to FAIL.

    Good luck.
  10. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    ....and then.....?

    From what I've read around the threads, I'm by no means the only TMer who's run into this situation. Simply saying "Don't change your embouchure" isn't much help when the embouchure you had just isn't there anymore.

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