It'll be just like starting over (thank you, John Lennon)

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by moosicman, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. moosicman

    moosicman New Friend

    Aug 4, 2009
    So I'm trying to get back into shape playing my trumpet after a large number of years. But here is my particular issue: I have always placed my mouthpiece off-center to the right on my lips. It isn't something I did on purpose but rather happened over time. I'm pretty sure I'm correct in saying this is a bad habit that I need to break but when I correct this it is like I'm starting over with mary had a little lamb type ability. So my question is do I really need to go ahead, grin and bear it and fix this or is this by chance something that is ok and I don't need to try and fix? Thanks for your input!! It is highly valued!
  2. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    This is NOT a bad habit.

    You use the mouthpiece where it works for you.

    Ziggy Elman and Maynard Ferguson are just two examples of off center placement.

    Doesn't matter, I play off to the right myself.
  3. moosicman

    moosicman New Friend

    Aug 4, 2009
    So the fact that my endurance is pathetic (like eight measures of Arban's winds me up) can be completely chalked up to the fact that I lack the disciplineof those 30 minute low volume, controlled lip slur type warm up stuff and more and that in time that will increase? If so I can do those with confidence that my stamina will grow. I just wanted to be absolutely sure I don't also need something else. THANKS MATE!
  4. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    You will increase your stamina. When coming back it takes time to build good breathing habits again. Warm up for maybe ten minutes, usnig a mix of long tones and slow, sliding slurs, down at the beginning and then add upward slurs as you develop. Practice scales - Clarke 1 - 3, simple etudes, and music you like. Take your time and rest as much as you play. With patience you will improve.

  5. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Off-centre mouthpiece placement is common. And when you say it has happened over time, then it is probably a comfortable spot for you. Your embouchure is YOURS, and a lot of things contribute toyour this, teeth/dental structure, jaw and muscle structure.

    Just get playing, do those exercises, and concentrate on the sound out of your horn.
  6. tony h

    tony h Pianissimo User

    Feb 21, 2008
    Im also a comeback player after many years away and I also play off center , when I came back I wanted to do all the right things including playing centered , I tried and tried but it always seemed to creep back where I noticed my playing was better , when I finally got a teacher , she said it was no problem , so all that time and effort just wasn't worth it .
  7. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Hey, Moosicman - welcome to the not-so-exclusive club of comeback players here on TM. We have ALL faced the same issues that you are. I had a gap of nearly 30 years which is small compared to johnande whose gap was 51 years (his is the record as far as I know).

    I would agree with the others. There are far more important things for you to address than whether the mouthpiece is centered. When I picked up my 50-year old Selmer Invicta after the long hiatus, it sounded TERRIBLE and it couldn't hit any high notes and the ones that it hit were airy and fuzzy and out of tune. I thought, wow! What happened to this trumpet? It deteriorated during those long years in the dark, lonely closet. So, I took it to the music store to have it cleaned and "repaired'' to fix the bad sound. The technician took one look at it, put it to his lips, and played WONDERFUL, EXQUISITE music. My mouth dropped open as I realized that the trumpet was not at all affected by the layoff - but I was. I returned and started with page 1 of Arbans and realized that I could barely play a couple of lines before I had to rest. I finally signed up for some lessons. The instructor (a young whipper-snapper who plays beautifully) told me to start with long tones, playing very softly, to not stress my lips trying for the high notes, and to practice breathing with my diaphragm. I thought it was too simple but I tried it. I must admit, it has worked wonders. I have only been playing for a couple of months but I have seen amazing progress - I can now play Arban's characteristic study #1 reasonably well in one stretch. I actually have hope that someday I can come up out of the basement.

    So, take the advise that is here and also try to find a good instructor to give some pointers. It will really make a difference for you. Good luck.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2009
  8. moosicman

    moosicman New Friend

    Aug 4, 2009
    Thank you so much for the encouragement!! My breath control is actually in pretty good shape. You see, I teach guitar, piano, and voice privately full time. So I'm still use to proper breathing. The hurdle will be getting my emb. muscles toned back up and building my endurance back. But I've always had that dreaded mental block with the off-center mouthpiece and I think this will do the trick!! Now that I know, I can blaze away with the practice knowing I'm not reinforcing some bad habit. Again, thanks and I'm glad I found your community!
  9. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Regarding the off-center playing, I agree with all the others -- what matters is where the mouthpiece fits comfortably on your lips and produces the best tone. Endurance will come if you practice sensibly and as your subject says do it as if you really were starting over and didn't know about the Arban's book yet. The more I travel this comeback path the more overrated the Arban's book is in my opinion -- yes, it's a great book but really for serious trumpet players who are already in great shape and want to get better. There's a whole world of excellent books for those who are trying to get back into shape or for those who are beyond the elementary stage but not at the Arban's level yet.

    What I am finding works wonderfully on my comeback path is an organized approach to my playing day, beginning with the James Stamp Warm-ups and the Thompson Buzzing Book. Then (usually about 1 hour) I play one or two Concone Vocalises from the Complete Solfeggi of Concone from Balquhidder and possibly one or two works from the Bel Canto book from the same publisher. Usually at that point I need to start my working day to support this habit (as well as pay the mortgage, put two kids through college, etc) but when I get a chance (being self-employed working at home I can take breaks throughout the day) I'll work on one or two technical etudes and then some solos such as the Phil Smith Concert Etudes or Advanced Concert Etudes or a movement or two from a sonata.

    Spreading out the playing throughout the day has made my comeback much smoother and more efficient than if I had to cram it all into an hour or so every evening -- I don't know how someone who doesn't work at home could do it, and my hat is off in admiration to those who are doing it while working outside the home.

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