Embouchure Struggles

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by greenandbluetiger, May 23, 2009.

  1. greenandbluetiger

    greenandbluetiger New Friend

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    May 23, 2009
    I was doing a quick scan of the site and I didn't see any threads about embouchures...so I thought I'd bring the topic up here.
    I am a high school trumpet player. Unfortunately, my range and endurance are not where I would like them to be, or where they should be for advanced ensembles in school, or in the district. I practice for at least an hour every day and have tried numerous different techniques and exercises but have had no luck. I finally brought this up with my private teacher. He immediatly suggested that my problem was due some slight puffing above my top lip. He emphasized that the muscle around my mouth should stay fairly firm while I play. I have been trying to get rid of the puffing for several weeks now without much improvement. I expect to get worse before I get better. Now the muscles are fairly firm except for the skin directly between my nose and my top lip. Is it possible to keep that skin completely firm? Are there any other things I could do to help fix this embouchure problem?
     
  2. operagost

    operagost Forte User

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    How much pressure are you using? Do you have a very visible ring over your lips even after only a few minutes of playing? Range is produced through air and lip compression, not through pressure or stretching out the lips (although "smiling" might get you to high D or E as long as you are not using lots of pressure).
     
  3. greenandbluetiger

    greenandbluetiger New Friend

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    May 23, 2009
    I am fairly sure that I don't use "too much" pressure. I try to bring my mouth to the mouthpiece rather than the mouthpiece to my mouth to avoid using too much pressure. I don't have a very visible ring after only a couple minutes of playing, but after about an hour or so it is visible, but not really extreme. I have never really had any pain while playing. I try to make sure that the corners of my lips are pulled back but that doesn't mean that I am necessarily "smiling" does it?
     
  4. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome to TM, greenandbluetiger!

    The reason there aren't a lot of threads about embouchures here is because diagnosing embouchures over the internet is next to impossible, and can be downright dangerous. The puffing may be from weak upper lip muscles, or an embouchure that uses too much upper lip and not enough lower lip musculature.

    The best advice, in general, is to perform all the "old-school" boring stuff. Long tones, breath attacks pp, lip slurs, lip trills, tonguing, etc., all while maintaining the most beautiful sound possible.

    Use a mirror, and for the time being, at least, trust your teacher.

    Have fun, and good luck!
     
  5. bigdanv

    bigdanv Pianissimo User

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    Although I agree that trying to diagnosing an embouchure over the internet isn't a good idea, I noticed that you wrote that you try to keep the corners of your lips pulled back. This might be part of the problem. I attended a master class taught by Wayne Bergeron about a year ago, and he told us that stretching the lips out while trying to play higher actually weakens the chops. Don't try to change anything before talking to your teacher though. I would ask him next time I saw him about stretching out your lips.
     
  6. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

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    First of all for now stick with what your private teacher is telling you. If after a while you don't think that your teacher is helping you find one who will. My basic advice to anyone is keep your corners back, down, and tight.
     
  7. greenandbluetiger

    greenandbluetiger New Friend

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    May 23, 2009
    Thanks for all of the tips! I agree that it is probably dangerous to do anything drastic through the internet, but the comments seem to be general enough that I couldn't do anything terrible (at least before I can talk to my teacher). Oh, and one last question...would it be at all normal for my playing to get slightly worse as I transition to the new embouchure before it gets better? I seem to have noticed a little bit of that. It seems like I would have to develop some muscles that I hadn't really been using so it would make sense for me to get slightly worse. Or...I could just be in a lot of trouble.
     
  8. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

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    Playing a little worse might be something that you have to endure before you see improvement. Remember you are changing the embouchure which is the vibrating tool we have in order to make sound. In other words you must break a habit and learn a new one which is not easy. I would suggest you work a great deal in front of a mirror.
     
  9. greenandbluetiger

    greenandbluetiger New Friend

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    May 23, 2009
    A month later (literally) I still seem to have a small amount of air/puff between my top lip and my nose, is this normal? The puff is only in that small space.
     
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    There is nothing "normal" and embouchure development is measured in 6 month intervals.

    Playing trumpet well means that the vital procedures have been committed to habit. Habit means thousands of repetitions until they are ingrained.

    I always have to snicker at the claims about certain aspects being turned around overnight. The human body does not work that way. One REALLY has to EARN chops. There are no shortcuts.

    Leaking air or puffing are generally signs of lack of control, especially in younger players. Control is achieved through INTELLIGENT PRACTICE.

    There are at least 1000 threads here at TM on embouchure. Most of them could be deleted as they only document the false hope in wanting to get something for nothing.

    Pencil method, long tones, slurs and breathing exercizes under supervision by a great teacher. That can speed up the process!
     

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