I have a lip problem.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by MaynardTrumpet, May 25, 2008.

  1. MaynardTrumpet

    MaynardTrumpet Pianissimo User

    May 25, 2008
    Okay hey everyone, that's at first. Throughout all of my time playing the Trumpet in my symphonic band at my high school, I was only required to jump to a high C on top of staff, as concert music asks a standard player to go that high. Now that I'm in my Jazz Band class, I realized that in order for me to play high, I need to keep my lips dry, that way they are more powerful.

    We're playing chameleon right now by Maynard, and I can pop out the G over high C pretty fine if my lips are dry. But thing is, after I do some articulation, some of my spit sometimes touches my lips, thus making them wetish. Right away after that one slight thing, I don't have my full range.

    If I play for more than 20 minutes with wet lips, my range will probably be up to a high C. Oh and I try wiping the spit of my lips, but its the fact that after a little while the lips aren't as powerful anymore. They really do become wet and more..How should I say... Soft?

    Can anyone help please :{?
  2. Trumpet guy

    Trumpet guy Forte User

    Feb 9, 2008
    I think Maynard played dry lip as well. In some of the videos I've seen he was wiping his mouth and mouthpiece, like, every time he had rests.
  3. screamingmorris

    screamingmorris Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 4, 2007
    Maynard Ferguson was a big believer in the teachings of Donald Reinhardt, so much so that MF gave Reinhardt a blank check to teach MF's son.

    See what Reinhardt said at the heading "Play on a Wet Embouchure" about 2/3 of the way down the long Web page at
    An Introduction to Donald S. Reinhardt's Pivot System

    For *most* people Reinhardt prescribed a wet embouchure:

    "Although many fine players do play on a dry embouchure, and in many cases Reinhardt would actually prescribe students to play dry, a wet embouchure should be adopted whenever the player's development and musical demands permit. In the Pivot System the embouchure is to be saturated with saliva in a three-part process..."

    I suspect that you are using a dry embouchure to compensate for a weak embouchure, pinning the muscles into place with the mouthpiece.
    It is better to strengthen the embouchure so that the muscles are able to maintain their position without being pinned down by the mouthpiece.

    As for "soft" lips, it is probably either swollen lips from too much mouthpiece pressure, or it is fatigue causing the embouchure to give out, or both.
    Use minimum mouthpiece pressure, do exercises to strengthen the embouchure, and give your embouchure frequent rests.

    "Minimum" mouthpiece pressure does not mean "no" mouthpiece pressure. Using too little mouthpiece pressure produces too thin a tone.
    While too much mouthpiece pressure cuts off circulation in the lips and prevents proper embouchure development.

    BTW, since Maynard Ferguson was a big believer in Reinhardt's teachings, look at the heading "Reinhardt's Embouchure Types" halfway doen that long Web page at
    An Introduction to Donald S. Reinhardt's Pivot System
    and tell us what embouchure type you are.
    Maynard Ferguson was some version of Type III (Type 3),
    a down-stream player.
    I am a Type IV (Type 4), an up-stream player.

    - Morris
    Last edited: May 25, 2008
  4. MaynardTrumpet

    MaynardTrumpet Pianissimo User

    May 25, 2008
    Wow! Thank you for that reply, screamingmorris!!! That's a lot of information there, and I have read a lot of it. But I made a video to see what I mean exactly. You seem to be really knowledged on this topic, so here's the video on my embouchure.

    YouTube - Embourchure Help

    Thank again m8!!

    Oh and I know Trumpet Guy, I've seen him do it a lot, but I've also seen him lick his lips and then he pops out the high notes still.
  5. screamingmorris

    screamingmorris Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 4, 2007
    You are only in high school, but you have the knowledge and equipment to record a video and post it on YouTube?

    I feel like a 52-year-old dinosaur, because I do not have the knowledge or equipment to do either.

    Your video shows that you are using approximately 2/3 upper lip and 1/3 lower lip, which is typical of down-stream players (players who have the lower lip curl under the upper lip as they ascend to the high notes, and because the lower lip curls under the upper lip, the air-stream is projected farther and farther in a down-ward direction the higher the notes).

    Buzzing the lips without the mouthpiece doesn't show me much because I can't see the middle of the lips close enough, and because the embouchure will often form differently without the mouthpiece in place.
    It can be helpful to play with a metal ring of some sort, such as that metal ring that kids use to blow liquid bubbles from a bottle.
    Or even a metal washer will do.
    I once cut the end off the cap of a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi so that I would have a see-through ring to buzz on. That was a very sharp rim, but it allowed me the ability to see the center of my one lip curl under the other lip *while* I was buzzing on the see-through "mouthpiece".

    Even buzzing the mouthpiece without a trumpet can sometimes not show enough.
    But the video at 41-42 seconds gives me the best view I see in the entire video.
    In your case it looks like you are pointing the mouthpiece *way* down as you play, which is typical of Type III (Type 3) players.
    It is more helpful to see a side view video of the player using the trumpet to ascend the 2-octave scale from Low C below the staff to High C above the staff.
    That enables the observer to see how you tilt the trumpet and how you shift the mouthpiece up-down as you ascend the 2-octave scale.

    I cannot tell how much mouthpiece pressure you are using because even a small amount of pressure will momentarily discolor the lips.
    But I can tell you that people who use too much mouthpiece pressure usually grip the trumpet in the left hand with the palm of the left hand resting against the trumpet's valve casing.
    People who use minimum mouthpiece pressure will often deliberately hold the trumpet in the farthest half of the fingers of the left hand so that the palm of the left hand is not touching or barely touching the valve casing.
    There are old stories about Bill Chase (one of the greats, died in 1974, the last note of his second album was the longest and most powerful Double C ever recorded) using such little mouthpiece pressure in the last few years of his life that he would demonstrate by playing the trumpet hands-off while it hung from a string, but that is *way* to far in the "no pressure" way.
    Just as too much pressure is also bad.
    Mild pressure is the goal.

    If you check the section "Reinhardt's Embouchure Types" again at
    An Introduction to Donald S. Reinhardt's Pivot System
    I'm guessing that you are either Type III (Type 3) or Type IIIB (Type 3B).
    It looks like your mouthpiece placement isn't as radical as used by Type IIIA (Type 3A).

    Fortunately, both the Type 3 and Type 3B usually use the same pivot:
    "The Type III embouchure usually utilizes Reinhardt's Pivot Classification Two, pulling down towards the chin to ascend and pushing up towards the nose to descend. Since Pivot Classification One is not uncommon, a Pivot Test is essential in order to avoid incorrect advice (Reinhardt, Encyclopedia of the Pivot System, 1973, p. 208)."
    "Type IIIB players always utilize Pivot Classification Two, pulling down towards the chin to ascend and pushing up to descend."

    Note these warnings that page gives:
    "One common difficulty Type III players have is their necessity of playing with the bell directed towards the floor because of a receded lower jaw. Players with this trouble need to be careful to not put their head too far back and place undue strain on their neck, restricting the throat."
    "Type IIIB embouchure players tend to have great flexibility and an easier time playing with a darker tone quality, but also have a tendency to become so concerned with a fat sounding lower and middle register that they play with too open an aperture. This results in difficulties playing above a concert D flat above high B flat. Because this type utilizes Pivot Classification Two it is also common for these players to dig the mouthpiece rim into their upper lip, causing swelling and trouble with endurance."

    Again, Reinhardt usually encouraged using a wet embouchure, but he did allow exceptions.
    The wet embouchure allows the embouchure to tighten, adjust, with one lip curling more under the other lip, as the player plays a 2-octave scale.
    With a dry embouchure, especially with lots of mouthpiece pressure, the embouchure is so pinned down that it cannot adjust enough to do that 2-octave scale. The embouchure will stick in the low-note position or in the high-note position but will not be able to adjust well for playing both positions.
    Note that I am *not* talking about the mouthpiece position changing.
    On your up-stream embouchure, you "anchor" the mouthpiece on the upper lip, keeping it in exactly that same position anchored on the upper lip at all times in all registers, then the lower lip needs to be able to curl under the upper lip more to ascend and then curl under the upper lip less to descend.
    So, for down-stream players the mouthpiece is firmly anchored on the upper lip, and the lower lips needs enough room and wetness / lubrication to make that curling-under movement while ascending the scale.

    Again, this is not some method that Reinhart "invented".
    Reinhardt merely analyzed thousands of successful brass players and discovered that they fell into certain categories, that they were born with certain embouchure types even if they didn't *realize* that they were doing it that way.
    I played trumpet for 5 years before my friend asked to look at me while playing and he noticed that my upper lip was curling under my lower lip, which made me an up-stream player, born that way, even though I had never heard of such a thing before.
    When I adjusted trumpet tilt and mouthpiece position appropriate for an up-stream Type IV (Type 4) player, I had immediate and dramatic improvement.
    Which means that the embouchure I was born with is almost exactly like an up-side-down version of the embouchure you were born with.

    - Morris
  6. screamingmorris

    screamingmorris Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 4, 2007
    I forgot to mention:
    *If* I remember correctly, Reinhardt said that a downstream player who does not want to use a completely wet embouchure (he ussually recommendded completely wet embouchure) should dry the upper lip and wet the lower lip, so that the mouthpiece remains anchored on the dry upper lip, and the lower lip is kept wet so that it can move in / out under the upper lip.
    But he said that some players do better just the opposite.
    Can anyone confirm that?
    Or is my memory faulty?

    You do some really great lip buzzing in that video, showing that you have a very good embouchure.
    I didn't have such an embouchure when I was a teenager.
    Even now that I am 52 years old and about 5 years into my come-back after a 30 year hiatus, your embouchure sounds like it could easily match mine any day of the week.

    Also, what mouthpiece are you using to pop out those G's above High C's?
    What trumpet?

    Also, see the "Wet / Dry" thread at
    Forum: trumpetherald.com

    Also, which MF album cover are you using as your "avatar"?
    That side view illustrates that you and MF are both Type 3 downstream, so be proud :-)

    - Morris
    Last edited: May 26, 2008
  7. mrmusicnotes

    mrmusicnotes Piano User

    Nov 11, 2007
    Morris, some lip problem,G above high C and still in high school!!! hA hA.Looks to me like the glass is definitely half full,good for him.Morris,thats a lot of information on different types of embouchures, i"am impressed.Since today is Memorial Day and being that I know verry little on this subject,I"ll have the time to take it all in.Thanks
  8. screamingmorris

    screamingmorris Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 4, 2007
    Yeah, I was going to consider the possibility that he was an up-stream player who should be pointing the trumpet slightly upward and should be using more lower lip than upper lip, but maybe he is using the wrong tilt and placement because that is the way Maynard played.
    But then I realized that if that was the case (as when I tried playing downstream in school when I should have been playing upstream and it almost runined me) he sure wouldn't be playing G's above High C's on a consistent basis the way he is.

    "I can only play G's above High C on a consistent basis if I use a dry embouchure."
    If only *all* of his had his problems :D

    - Morris

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