Embouchure Help!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by likefoxes, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. likefoxes

    likefoxes New Friend

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    Apr 26, 2008
    Right, this forum has probably seen a billion of these threads before, so i'll get the point. I bought trumpet the other day because im going to teach myself how to play. I've been looking around the internet on the best embouchure technique but i cant really find anything useful. Any tips for a complete beginner?
     
  2. screamingmorris

    screamingmorris Mezzo Forte User

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    Apr 4, 2007
    Go to
    An Introduction to Donald S. Reinhardt's Pivot System

    Scroll halfway down the very long page to the heading
    "Reinhardt's Embouchure Types".

    To sum it up very briefly, most trumpet players are born either up-stream or down-stream, and you need to experiment to find out which type you were born as and then follow the general rules on what works best for that type.

    Many players, a slight majority, are born "down-stream", meaning that when they play the lower lip slightly curls under the upper lip, and the air stream is projected in a downward direction.
    Down-stream players often use 2/3 upper lip and 1/3 lower lip in the mouthpiece cup, and they often tilt the trumpet slightly downward.
    Donald Reinhardt called down-stream players "Type 3" / "Type III".

    Many other players, a very large minority (I am one), are born "up-stream", meaning that when they play the upper lip slightly curls under the lower lip, and the air stream is projected in an upward direction.
    Up-stream players often use 1/3 upper lip and 2/3 lower lip in the mouthpiece cup, and they often tilt the trumpet slightly upward.
    Donald Reinhardt called up-stream players "Type 4" / "Type IV".

    I was a *terrible* trumpet player 35 years ago in Junior High band.
    I tried playing with more upper lip than lower lip, and I tried tilting the trumpet slightly downward, trying to imitate the best trumpet players in the band, but the more I practiced the worse I became.
    Then after I dropped out of school band at the age of 15 a friend told me that he thought I might be a born "up-stream".
    So I tried playing with more lower lip than upper lip (playing higher on the mouthpiece), and I tried tilting the trumpet slightly upward, and the improvement for me was instant and dramatic, in tone and in range and in endurance.

    It is not a gimick.
    It is simply discovering which embouchure type you were born with and then doing what is naturally best for that embouchure type you were born with.

    So start with 1/2 upper lip and 1/2 lower lip in the cup, then experiment by moving *slightly* higher and lower on the mouthpiece to see which mouthpiece position gives you the best tone and range.

    And start with holding the trumpet straight out from your body, then experiment by *slightly* tilting the trumpet up and down to see which position gives you the best tone and range.

    Even though all players can be lumped into the general categories of "down-stream" and "up-stream", each player will still have his own individual variations of mouthpiece placement and trumpet tilt and mouthpiece preference.
    No 2 down-stream players are exactly alike, and no 2 up-stream players are exactly alike, so you will need to look at the general rules for whichever type you are, but nevertheless do what works best for you.

    By the way, I am one of those people who has mostly quit playing trumpet to return to cornet, because the cornet has such a beautiful tone for playing ballads in the lower register.
    Student-level Olds Ambassador cornets form the 1960's have a great tone and can be bought dirt-cheap on ebay.
    I currently play a 1962 Conn 5A, which has an extra-large bore which some people compare to a small trombone bore.

    I forgot to mention:
    Do not do that thing that some very old teachers used to teach, where they told students to "smile" to form the right embouchure.
    That is wrong, wrong, wrong.
    If you form the correct embouchure, the outer corners of your lips will curl slightly downward rather than upward, and your lips will *not* be stretched longer side-to-side in a smiling fashion but will instead be slightly puckered.
    The photos under "Embouchure Types" that I already pointed you to at
    An Introduction to Donald S. Reinhardt's Pivot System
    will give you some idea.
    And when you tongue, try to avoid having your tongue protrude through the opening in your lips like a cork stopping up a wine bottle, because that makes for clumsy and bad-sounding tonguing.

    - Morris, mediocre amateur who returned to trumpet playing 6 years ago after a 35-year hiatus, now playing beautiful slow ballads like "Danny Boy" (and also screaming High F's just for the sheer testosterone of it all)
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2008
  3. brunets

    brunets Pianissimo User

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    May 28, 2007
    Gatineau,QC
    Hi!

    Welcome to the forum!
    As for your question, learning to breath properly is far more important than focusing on embouchure.

    St├ęphane
     
  4. stchasking

    stchasking Forte User

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    Jun 11, 2006
    Go to your local music store or university and inquire about hiring a teacher. Ask the teacher candidates if they know the Maggio method. Hire one or more of the teachers and practice.
    You probably won't practice as much as you should. Start out with short sessions several times a day.
     
  5. Liblip

    Liblip New Friend

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    Mar 29, 2008
    Hi! Glad to hear you're pulling all the stops and giving it an informal go. Morris is right on all points, and there's a lot written- even Wikipedia covers embouchure pretty well.

    As with most things don't overthink it. Best of luck and enjoy, Ed
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    DIY generally will turn your trumpet into a dustable object in very short time.
    Getting properly started is critical to future enjoyment. Get serious lessons. Don't make the mistake that thousands of others have - learn from their mistakes!
     
  7. screamingmorris

    screamingmorris Mezzo Forte User

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    Apr 4, 2007
    In principle I agree with you 100 percent.

    Unfortunately, though, public school music teachers in the United States are often lacking in knowledge, so some students develop embouchure problems right from the beginning and those public school music teachers are unable to diagnose / correct those embouchure problems.
    Many decades ago, when band instruments were still made out of stone a la "The Flintstones", I was in school band from 5th grade through 9th grade and my playing was *terrible*.
    It was only after I dropped out of band after 9th grade that a teenage friend suggested that I might be an "upstream" player and that I should try making such embouchure adjustments.
    It *saved* me.

    And the private teachers that are found in many small music shops across America are often of the same quality as public school music teachers.
    They are generic music teachers who have no detailed knowledge regarding embouchures, such a saxophone player or violin player who gives trumpet lessons, too.

    But if a person *can* find a good teacher who is a trumpet player himself and who has detailed knowledge of embouchures so that he can diagnose and correct embouchure problems in others,
    such a teacher is worth his weight in gold and is far better than "do it yourself" embouchure instruction.

    So in principle I agree with you 100 percent.

    Perhaps someone can post recommendations on the best method for finding a qualified trumpet teacher for a beginning trumpet player?
    Where does one begin to look in the typical small town in America?

    - Morris
     
  8. brunets

    brunets Pianissimo User

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    May 28, 2007
    Gatineau,QC
    Morris, I guess that's why Robin said "get serious lessons"... :D

    Seriously, I agree with you. Many music teachers have no clue how to teach properly how to play the trumpet.

    St├ęphane
     
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Morris,
    I think the easiest start is to post something like:

    "Hey, I am new here, live in the Grand Forks greater community. I am looking for lessons. Can anybody suggest someone qualified?"

    We get tons of questions for "anonymous" help that may or may not be worthless, bringing TMers together could make better sense!

    If there is an area with enough students and no teacher, it may just be worth it for some un- or marginally employed but qualified player to make regular trips. This is just one possibility of many......
     
  10. likefoxes

    likefoxes New Friend

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    Apr 26, 2008
    cheers for the advice. On the getting lessons aspect. I might get one or two to get rid of bad habits. But in my experience lessons have only helped to make me hate the instrument i'm playing.That happened to me with drums. I've already taught myself to play guitar and piano, and i feel that in doing so it's kind of a personal challenge. I think i'm much more likely to stick at the trumpet if i do it myself. It's fun to learn!
     

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