I changed embouchure, drastic improvement

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by frankmike, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Well, you switch to get your sound right. I'm a long time player who took a ton of time off and came back to a high wire act of an embouchure, a lower lip tuck that was suggested by a former teacher of some repute, and back in the day, after suffering through months of adjustment to get my sound, I never knew why he did that since I wasn't a music major and didn't practice enough to make any embouchure placement work. Plus, I was overblowing anyway!

    After coming back, I slowly went back to a virtual einsetzen position, immediately got a sound I wanted and spent a couple years getting the kinks out and concentrating on fundamentals, particularly air. Pretty happy with it. As for going back and forth with different instruments-- I do play trombone and dabble in French horn-- yes, it takes as much time on those slightly different settings and mpcs but I'm putting in that kind of time now.

  2. patkins

    patkins Forte User

    Nov 22, 2010
    Tuscaloosa, AL.
    Absolutely anatomically and kineophysiologically correct, rowuk.
    It takes me months if I change a mouthpiece, so much more time to correct a position change.
    Overconfidence can kill you.
    If you have had some improvement then it is a positive step, but give it time to cure.
  3. Mark_Kindy

    Mark_Kindy Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 11, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    Embouchure changes sure can be confidence killers. I had a whole issue back in high school where I played so far in the red of my upper lip for high notes that my aperture would swell from pressure, or would slide out onto the rim. I still wonder to this day how I managed to play at all... but I managed to fix it. Definitely was a humbling experience, because it took so long to readjust. Thankfully, it was for the best.
  4. wilktone

    wilktone New Friend

    Jul 18, 2011
    Asheville, NC
    While a few players may appear to be exactly 50/50 with their mouthpiece placement, this placement doesn't usually work very well for most. One lip generally will predominate inside the mouthpiece and when both lips are fighting each other for predominance, problems can result:

    A Tubist's Embouchure - A Case Study - YouTube

    Most players do better with a placement that has more upper lip inside. A smaller number will do better with more lower lip inside. I'm not surprised that moving your placement up so that you have more upper lip works better. Learn to work with that new embouchure and play your whole range there.

    I would agree that often this approach works very well and is sometimes best for a particular student at a particular stage of development. For example, when the embouchure strength and control hasn't already developed you won't be able to know how to make your embouchure work within your anatomical features in the first place. Left to their own devices, most students seem to gravitate to their own best placement because that's what works (as long as they are given permission). Practice on good overall embouchure form will help, assuming the student understands what this means.

    On the other hand, there are many times when simply trying to place the mouthpiece in a different spot is faster and more optimal than months of trial and error. If you know what to look for, there are basic embouchure patterns that can be used as a "road map" to help players find their mouthpiece placement (see the YouTube video I linked above for one example). In some cases making even slight changes can make for remarkable improvements, but those changes will be different for every player. This is one reason why a lot of teachers tend to discourage this sort of experimentation, since what works for one student can make another student worse.

    I personally don't subscribe to the "let the body figure itself out" approach, although I frequently guide my students by taking their attention away from their embouchure in order to fix other things that need correcting first. At some point or another it usually becomes necessary to work on some elements of embouchure form, but when you can break those things down into smaller chunks it's not all that complicated. Certainly no harder than learning music theory.


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