Embouchure destabilisation?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by gsmonks, Sep 3, 2009.

  1. gsmonks

    gsmonks Piano User

    The notion of embouchure destabilisation is one that has always mystified me. Maybe I've just been lucky, but I've never understood what embouchure destabilisation is all about. The closest I've come is having students with really bad habits that led to problems. A number of pros I've known over the years have had chronic problems, and I've always wondered if their technique wasn't suspect.

    Anyone have some hard info on this subject?
  2. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    No hard info, but I think that chronic problems can develop when someone is overworking their embouchure. As with any set of muscles, overwork can lead to muscle fatigue and damage, and once that happens with any set of muscles it takes a long time to rehabilitate them to as close to good condition as possible.

    In the case of pros, I think they forget they are athletes, and sometimes they take every gig which comes along (at current pay scales, who can afford not to?) and they simply overwork their muscles. Imagine doing a movie soundtrack with a lot of high work in the morning, then recording a couple of ad jingles in the afternoon before heading off to play lead in a screeching big band for four hours in the evening. No athlete does that sort of thing! And doing that for days on end, with very little rest in between will wreak havoc with the muscles.

    People who say that no warm-up or warm-down is necessary for good trumpet playing are likely simply a melt-down waiting to happen. Muscles are muscles, whether they are our lip muscles or our major muscles in our arms/legs, and they all need careful attention in order to work properly for a life-time.

    Amateurs face burn-out or muscle-meltdown far less because the other aspects of their lives get in the way (like family and work) so that they don't find themselves in situations where they expect themselves to play their trumpets all day every day in a wide variety of settings.

    Symphony musicians learned a long time ago that in order to survive a life in music, some time limits had to be imposed, so rehearsals are carefully watched by the union shop steward, concerts are shorter these days than in the past, and the number of services a symphony musician is required to perform (rehearsals and/or performances) is limited each week. And they make a nice living from their symphony gigs!

    Look at what happened to Freddie Hubbard when he tried to out-Faddis Jon Faddis! Freddie did serious damage to his embouchure -- there is the professional pride which dictates that the high notes are the be-all and end-all of trumpet playing, which is utter nonsense. Pros have to play what's placed in front of them -- if they don't do it well (or at all) they don't get hired back, so pros will often stretch themselves when they shouldn't just to keep the gig.

    As I say, no hard info but observations.
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Playing well involves the whole body. Embouchure destabilization does not have to necessarily be tied to the muscles in the face. Our brain can play AWFUL tricks on us.

    Curing the problem means that we have to find it first. If it is emotional (and is in MANY cases), no embouchure change can fix it.
  4. gsmonks

    gsmonks Piano User

    H'm . . . I've never warmed up or warmed down, never think about it, never bothered by it. Maybe chops are a bit like feet. For example, my dad had problems with his feet and shoes his whole life. He would often give shoes that killed his feet to me. I never had a pair of shoes that hurt my feet. (I'm talking about shoes that fit).

    Maybe it's something to do with how a person is built? Like fibre, muscle density or something? Some people bruise, some don't, that sort of thing?

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