Embouchure Woes

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by The Royal Lancer, Aug 29, 2006.

  1. The Royal Lancer

    The Royal Lancer New Friend

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    Oct 11, 2004
    Detroit, Michigan
    Manny,

    I would appreciate your thoughts on some embouchure problems I'm having. About a year and a half ago I believe that I damaged my embouchure (musculature) by overplaying and under resting. There was a period of about two months where I was not able to form my embouchure well enough to play the easiest music. Through a long series of very short practice sessions, doing long tones, working with the Clark studies, Arban's, Schlossberg, etc and exercising great patience, I have managed to work my way back to where I play pretty well again.

    In order to further build myself up, nine months ago I hired a private instructor to give me trumpet lessons. He immediately zoned in on my embouchure saying that it moves too much while I am articulating passages. It has become his dig-in issue with me. I have tried to explain to him the problems that I had and how far I have come on my own. He has a habit of speaking down to me which further exacerbates things because I have been playing for 44 years and really do know the difference between a firm embouchure and one that moves (articulates) but he’s not listening to me.

    For the record, by articulating I mean that if I am playing intervals the drop in my jaw for low notes is pretty visible. The only description that I can give is that I appear to be "talking" my way through articulated passages but not for slurring passages. This is more movement in my face than I have ever had before, but I no longer seem to be able to form the embouchure that I have played on for years. When I do firm it up, I start getting muscle spasms in my face after only a very short time. Based on what some really great teachers have said, I stopped spending time watching myself in the mirror when I play. I let my results guide me on what works and what doesn't.

    I'm frustrated now to the point where I'm about to walk away from this for the first time in over 40 years. I feel terrible about this, but I am really at a loss. Your thoughts, or those of any other experienced players would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Jack
     
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    If the teacher/student relationship is not working, there is always of course 2 sides. Because you have played for a long time, you don't need stress in addition to the muscle handicap. If the communication is so problematic, I would suggest finding another teacher. It is always good to have somebody objectively watching and success is the combination of motivation and perspiration.
    As far as the embouchure goes, what happens when you stick a pencil between your lips and try to keep it out straight for a while - do you also get spasms? Maybe there is a combination of things happening here.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2006
  3. Dave Mickley

    Dave Mickley Forte User

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    most teachers are not masters of everything, some are great at embouchers,some at classical, some at jazz, some at range, ect. most are very good at getting someone going and then suggest another instructor for specifics when you have advanced past their teaching capabilities in certain areas, maybe you are in a situation which is not your teachers forte and you need to look for an instructor who specializes in that area. Check around I am sure their is someone available that can help you. Dave
     
  4. mchs3d

    mchs3d Mezzo Forte User

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    Sep 30, 2005
    Provo, UT
    I know this is probably further than where you live, but one of the absolute best teachers to help fix your embouchure is Bill Pfund. He lives in Greeley, Colorado and is the Professor Emeritus of Trumpet at University of Northern Colorado. He's also the VP/President Elect of ITG. I take lessons from him and he's helped me fix my embouchure. I knew a student he had one time that bust his lip ice-skating. Bill helped this kid out so much, and his range shot up to over a double-c.
     
  5. The Royal Lancer

    The Royal Lancer New Friend

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    Oct 11, 2004
    Detroit, Michigan
    mchs3d,

    Thanks for the tip. You're right, living in Michigan, Colorado seems a bit of a distance. I appreciate the feedback from everyone who contributed here. I will continue to grapple with this issue.

    At 52 years old, I guess I'm going to have to get used to the idea that things will progress more slowly now and that some things (abilities/techniques) may never come at all. Normally I'm a pretty upbeat guy but my playing is a very serious subject as far as I'm concerned. I think that if I don't get the results from this teacher that I'm looking for, I'll need to move on down the road and find another.

    Are there any of you out there that have recommendations of good instructors in the the Northern Metro Detroit Area?

    Thanx,

    Jack
     
  6. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

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    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2006
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Age has actually very little to do with it. As long as you are diligently practicing the things that you need to (not the stuff that you already can), you will progress.
    If you never had high chops, learning to play lead now might be more work than you have time for-but setting realistic short and medium term goals are what it is all about.
    Don't let up. Experience is worth a lot and at 52 you have a lot more than any of those young whippersnappers!
     

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