Embouchure Pedagogy

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Brasil66, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. Brasil66

    Brasil66 Pianissimo User

    Sep 11, 2008
    Greetings all. We've all been told at some point to not play on the "red" inner-tissue of our lips. As well, we've been told to keep the line of the upper lip (defining this 'red' area) and the line of the lower lip inside the upper and lower rims of the mouthpiece. To accomplish this, sometimes we say to form the lips as if in a pronounced letter 'm', concealing this tissue area.

    Well, I've currently got a half dozen students with quite a challenge on their hands. Thus, so do I. I have a bunch of eager, bright, and willing African-American students who were blessed with a generous, abundant lip structure. A couple of them about as rich in this area as I guess it could get. And they're having problems. Some can't play below third space C, without serious prompting. Some can't produce a straight tone of any kind. Wow. I just don't know what to do. I'd like to be as sensitive about this as I can. If it were suddenly me facing this learning task, I'd say I have a big problem.

    I know it can be done. Can playing in the red tissue be OK for some players? Doesn't this mean buzzing on the inner part of the lip.??

    Arban states to let the student find his own way, and not to make a big fuss over it (his actual wordage :). But these kids are really struglling! Can anyone HELP????!?? :dontknow:

    And please...don't offer general embouchure advice. I get it. I'd mostly like to hear from those with this particular experience. ;-)

    Most appreciated, John
  2. Brasil66

    Brasil66 Pianissimo User

    Sep 11, 2008
    Bump....:dontknow: JC
  3. wilcox96

    wilcox96 Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 31, 2005
    charlotte nc
    I don't mean to be general about this...nor do what you are asking us "not" to do (general embouchure stuff)... just kind of keeping the dialogue open.

    Have you given any of them a bigger mpc than a 7 C?

    Have you asked any of them to curl the lips inward? Outward? What has your approach been to this?

    Have you gotten them to make a buzz (with a free flowing air flow, not like a lot of beginners do with just a lip spit type of thing)...with no mpc? Is "that" sound clear (or close?)?

    How about slurring tricks like starting on 2nd line G and having them "bend" downward until the low C pops out? If they need to start on middle C (3rd space), then do the same bend downward to even that 2nd line G?

    The few you say you have some that can only play that middle C, you may be cultivating a new lead player or piccolo tpt master! Can they work up by scale? I know you need them to play parts in the program... but have you considered re-writing the parts for now to accomodate their current ability? I don't know...just thinking out of the box here...

    Interesting subject. I hope someone else can offer something. This will be curious to see what advice you get. Good luck!
  4. screamingmorris

    screamingmorris Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 4, 2007
    Allegedly, in Donald Reinhardt's original manuscript, he said that most black players tend to be upstream players (Type IV / Type 4).
    That means that most black players should play with more lower lip than upper lip, that they should play high on the mouthpiece, with the trumpet either level or tilted slightly upward.

    - Morris
  5. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    I don't have a ton of firsthand experiance, but I'll pass along what I have...

    I met one African-American man who plays very well (professional player/college teacher) who looks (by the marks on his lips) to have the inner edge of the mpc in the "red" of both lips. However, the outer edge of the mpc was outside of the "red" and he seemed to have the slight roll-in that I think most people would call normal. My point is that he had a similar embouchure formation to thinner lipped people, but just happened to have more lip tissue. I never asked him about this, I just happened to notice. I'm sure there are lots of similar players out there, I just haven't observed very many up close, but it CAN work for some people.

    If a student was struggling, I'd do this (method stolen from a former teacher)...

    -Have the student say "Hymn" to form the "mmm" formation that lots of methods talk about.
    - Put the OUTSIDE edge of the mouthpiece rim at the border of the red (top lip) with the shank pointed UP, touching the nose. I know this sounds weird, but bear with me!
    - With the student still forming "hymn," tilt the mpc down until it rests on both lips.
    - Have the student beathe in through the nose and blow, hopefully getting a buzz of some sort.

    Depending on the individuals lips, this may be a little too low, but with thicker lips, it may be perfect. THe point is to get the buzz through that "mmm" formation and not a "moo" type of ebmouchure. I'd have them do this with just the mpc, over and over, until they had a consistant buzz, then do it with the horn (even the tilting up part). I'd stay with the nose breath and air attack until they can get a note consistantly. I know it seems a little odd, but for a kid who can't get a tone at all, it can't hurt.

    As for the kid that can't play low...I know a guy who made a slight embouchure change in college (he rolled in the lower lip a little) and he could play fine from third space C on up, but could hardly play lower at all. His teacher told him not to worry and only push the lower regiser a little at a time. He said it was about a month before he could play a Low C, but eventually the lower register developed fine and he's a killer lead player now!

    Keep us updated...it's something anyone who teaches will probably run into sooner or later!
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Big lips do not mean that there is a problem. One can roll the lips in instead of just pressing them together. The best thing to do would be to check out great players on youtube with similar physiology.

    I think we need to be REAL careful about any embouchure help over the internet. Even face to face, more damage than help occurs when messing around with the face. Even otherwise great teachers have "wiped out" players or wasted a year without any real improvement (first hand experience- I was lucky and was able to reverse the process). I know we all want to help, the chance of getting even close without seeing and hearing the player is pretty remote.

Share This Page