embouchure help....

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by redlips, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. redlips

    redlips New Friend

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    Dec 22, 2009
    I’ve been lurking the forums for a while here try to find more info on whether my embouchure is wrong or not and I was wondering if I could get some help.

    A little background: Im in my late 20’s and have been playing since I was 10 or so. So that should put me at nearly 20 years on the same embouchure. I generally don’t perform anything to taxing, but would like to increase my range and endurance (my tone sounds great right now). I play with a church group playing mostly pop chrisitan pieces and would also like to join a local concert band.

    While searching for reviews on what new trumpet I should buy (Im thinking the Yamaha xeno 8445G at this point) I discovered that my embouchure “is in the red.” Althuoght the definition isn’t perfectly clear to me (some have argued it’s the outer rim of the mp in the red while others say it’s the inner) I do notice a scar forming on my upper lip where the inner part of the mp rests. I would say the centre of the “rim” of the mp sits at or just below the lips margin. The outer edge of the rim appears to be outside the red. (Photos attached puckerd and unpuckerd)

    Another issue is that I play off centre and have started to notice a bulge appearing on the upper lip basically deforming the symmetry of my lips. I’ve also notice scar tissue forming on the underside.

    I suspect this damage is being cause by excess pressure on the lips as well as possibly a too small mp. I play on a Getzen 5c given by one of my trumpet teachers in university. It has a relatively sharp inner lip compared to what Im trying now, a Bach 3c. The bach seems to have dropped my endurance but doesn’t hurt my lip as bad. My question is…. Should I change my mp location to both centre it and move it more onto the “muscle” of my lip and/or try moving to an even bigger piece like a 1C?

    Most trumpet players I know and see, seem to have smaller lips and have no issue fitting into a mouthpiece. Mine, no matter how hard I squeeze can get out of the red entirely. I also don’t like the idea that because Im playing in the red Im “handicapping” myself and will never achieve endurance or consistent high notes.

    I would appreciate any help. Im trying to get images uploaded as well.

    thanks...
     
  2. Keith Fiala

    Keith Fiala Pianissimo User

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    Feb 21, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    I don't think it's your mouthpiece "size" per se over how much excessive pressure you're using to play. If you look at photos of some really great players (Maynard in his older years, Carl Fischer, etc.) they play off to the side as well.

    As far as "where" you're playing that can depend on your physical makeup as well. If you're getting a good tone, and not hurting yourself under "normal" playing conditions then your embouchure / mouthpiece may not be the culprit.

    We start using pressure to help "pressurize" the air to achieve higher notes. I'm willing to bet that if you watch yourself play in a mirror, you're NOT using your air as efficiently as you could. What I mean by this is - we have 2 ways of moving air faster...
    1) pushing with our abs (large muscles)
    2) pinching our lips together / mouthpiece pressure

    Both have the same result (to a degree)... they both move the air faster, but one is more efficient and a LOT less painful.

    Here's my humble recommendation -

    Watch yourself in the mirror and try to NOT move your aperture / embouchure when you're playing... stay in one set and try not to press the horn against your lips excessively (this tends to stop vibrations and damage lip tissue). Using your abs to push the air faster for upper notes, and backing off to slow the air down. Great exercises would be the Characteristic studies in the Arbans, St. Jacome, as well as the Clarke book!

    Like a great mechanic once told me - look for the simple stuff first... changing embouchure / mouthpieces would be overhauling the motor!

    I hope this helps -

    Keith Fiala
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    First of all, there is no "RULE" that the red should be on the inside, it is just common practice. There is no formula for mouthpiece vs lip size. This is just a myth that won't go away spread by people that have not spent any time with the true mechanics of playing. Many thick lipped players roll their lips in slightly and have no trouble with the smallest of mouthpieces. Stand in front of a mirror and purse your lips like you are saying an "M". This is a good start for an M-bouchure.

    Second, scar tissue is not something most of us have or want. Normal playing, even with pressure does not create "scars". If in fact you have scars, forget solving this yourself. You need professional help before your face gets all messed up!

    I disagree with adding abs pressure, your problem is the opposite. The air does not move faster when we push, it is just at higher pressure (the horn and mouthpiece actually fight back!). If our lips and body use are fighting the process, we just increase the damage when we work even harder to get the job done.

    You need to start working on lower impact playing until you get your stuff together, then other things will become clear. Do a search here on "circle of breath" and "daily routine". They will help you get on a decent path to controlled and pain free playing. The rest gets addressed after the basics are understood and mastered.
     
  4. Keith Fiala

    Keith Fiala Pianissimo User

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    Feb 21, 2007
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    Let me clarify that if a player is using their lips to move air faster (pressure or pinching) they are using the WRONG muscles to achieve higher notes. As I stated - by holding the lips in one position (small aperture) you can manipulate the airstream using LARGE muscles to remove the pressure and tension from the SMALL muslces.

    No matter how we disagree Rowuk, we're both talking habits that have to be changed and that will take time, patience, and employing the use of better playing techniques...

    Keith
     
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Keith, we don't disagree at all.
    This player at this stage has no control over the aperature and needs lots of low impact exercizes to get everything under control. Once a certain amount of facility has been reached, there are several paths to success depending on the music being played.

    Except for "high impact" lead playing, most of the time the abs are not something requiring specific attention. This time of the year I have a lot of baroque music to play and that means up to F# above the staff if we talk about a Bb trumpet. Except for a big breath, everything else stays fairly relaxed. When I play lead (not so much around Christmas), it is a whole different world that matches your description very closely.

    Low impact playing leads to a strong, compact aperature that turns more of the moving air into sound.
     
  6. Keith Fiala

    Keith Fiala Pianissimo User

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    Agreed Rowuk... thanks for the clarification.

    Sincerely,

    Keith

    P.S. Merry Christmas & a prosperous 2010!
     

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