I'm thinking I have embouchure problems.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by BitLion, Nov 19, 2013.

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    The nice thing about being young is just how badly you can abuse your chops and still not do any real damage to them. Believe me when I say that if it was easy to permanently damage your chops
    mine would have been toast long ago.

    I'm not discounting the idea that a good teacher can streamline your approach, but what I am saying is that dilligent and intropestive time on the horn often yields the same results, and it also grants a level of wisdom because you find out firsthand what does, and more importantly, what does not work.

    I made one of my biggest strides in improvement my Freshman year of HS, and it wasn't because I had lessons with a private instructor, but rather simply because I LOVED playing my horn, and it was in my hands as much as possible every day. I wasn't even really practicing anything constructive from a method book - I was simply playing to play anything and everything in my repertoire of music - mainly my newfound love at the time, pep band charts. It's amazing how quickly technique improves when you have the horn in your hands for several hours a day and you are pushing your limits of technique.

    And again, I don't think I'm an exception - I think anyone who had the same love of music and trumpet I did who put in the kind of time I did would see some substantial improvement, and I didn't need a teacher to tell me if what I was playing sounded right - I used my ears.
     
  2. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

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    Lucky for you that you have robust chops, trickg... some people don't. So, OP, I'm chiming in with a number of previous posters to say "Get a teacher", and, I may add, a good one. If you don't have easy access to a good teacher, try and find one on Skype or a similar service. Other TMers can certainly point you in the right direction.
     
  3. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that from a physical point of view, we're more similar than different, and our bodies' ability to recover and heal is also more similar than different. I ABUSED my chops, and not just in high school where playing higher meant liberal use of the "octave key", but also during my Latin band days, and even still with the wedding band. There are nights when we do a ton of music with horn lines where the only thing that gets me through is some additional pressure and lots and lots of air.

    I've heard horror stories about people blowing things out, but I don't think our young OP is in that category. There's nothing in the pics that would indicate anything out of the ordinary, he's clearly not using too much pressure, and I think that if he simply steps back and hits some of the basic fundamentals of tone production hard in the practice room. I saw a quote one day that I felt was so profound that it became my signature line on another forum:

    "95% of the average 'weekend warrior's' problems could be solved by an additional 30 minutes of insightful practice." -- Anonymous

    So what do we know about our original poster? Well, we know that our young hero is now in his 7th year of playing and is a sophomore in HS. We also know what he does for a warmup - it sounds like the right kinds of things based on the description, but we don't really know if he's doing any of it correctly. We also don't know much about what he's practicing or how much he's practicing - all we know is that he warms up for 10-15 minutes (when he can) and that once the rehearsal gets underway the chops collapse.

    To me this doesn't sound like an embouchure "problem" in the sense that there is something being incorrectly done, but rather, it sounds like a weak, under-developed embouchure - the most common cause of that is that there isn't enough time being spent practicing the fundamentals that build the foundation.

    As a side note, he did mention that his band teacher is an experienced trumpet player, so it's always possible for him to do some lessons with him.

    My guess is that some long tones combined with some articulation exercises would go a long way toward correcting the issues at hand. My advice to the OP when it comes to these is to ditch the books and just work with the horn. Really focus on what's going on with your sound, and how things feel. I'm not saying that method books aren't great - I've got a bunch that I use - but when figuring out what's going on with your chops, it's too easy to get distracted when you are reading from the page. You think more about the notes, rhythms, intervals and that kind of thing, and you aren't focused on what's going on with your chops.
     
  4. BitLion

    BitLion New Friend

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    Thanks for all the replies!

    I'll try long tone warmups like you guys suggested.

    And yes, about getting a private teacher, I sent a local teacher an email two days ago expressing my interest. He's a great player and has experience in jazz too, which is another one of my interests.

    Thanks for the support!
     
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    The long tones are good, but do lots of articulation stuff too, and particularly in the register - articulation doesn't want to speak cleanly if you aren't using your air well. Other things to think about when you are doing long tones are to reduce pressure and to visualize your chops moving to the center.

    I still have times on occasion where I'll have to step back and hit the long tones because some pressure has crept back into my playing - the pressure is what forces the chops to focus, and if I try to reduce pressure it breaks down into a double-buzz. It only takes about 2 days of consciously working it to get the pressure reduced and the focus back. I consider this a product of the kind of music I primarily gig - amplified, miked, loud rock & roll horn lines. It's hard, rangy high-energy playing.
     
  6. BitLion

    BitLion New Friend

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    Nov 13, 2013
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    @trickg Thanks for the tips, I'll try and do some more long tones. Considering the amount I practice right now I do believe that it's not something wrong with my chops or that I'm going in the wrong direction but it's just that my chops are underdeveloped.
     

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