leaky lips?

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

  1. bigtiny

    bigtiny Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2005

    All I can say is...I've been playing semi-professionally since the 70's. Did a year at Berklee, play in bands, jazz gigs, whatever. The majority of players that I encounter do not leak air from the corners of the mouth when they play. So I guess I'm behind the times and now it's acceptable, but I haven't seen it in wide acceptance. if it works for you fine. But if I had a student that was suddenly leaking air (if I remember correctly the original poster had a teacher who was out of town and had suddently noticed this happening) I would regard it as a problem and fix it. I've never said anything about a 'smiling embochure' and truthfully, I've never been an embochure geek. It just seems kind of common sense to me that you don't want to leak air from anywhere when you're playing. But hey, I'm old....

  2. gsmonks

    gsmonks Piano User

    YOU're old! I'm so old there's moss growing on my back . . .

    That "don't leak air" thing is really a stigma that came about because of the "smiling embouchure", which is where the "pencil trick" came from. The idea (which goes well back into the 1800's) was that you needed strong corners. It's the method taught in the old Arban's book. You made tight corners and drew the lips back over the teeth.

    Lots of good players used this method, but many played with far too much pressure on the lips. Lots of guys, me included, got scars on their lips from jamming the mouthpiece against the teeth.

    The "non-pressure" system has always been around, as some guys naturally just play that way, but to the best of my knowledge Adolph Scherbaum coined the term in reference to the method in such a way that it became widely associated with him and the method. Back in the 70's lots of players were fanatical advocates, and like reformed smokers pushed the non-pressure system in your face at every available opportunity. A few of those advocates in the jazz world alone are/were Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severinsen, Bobby Herriot, and about half of the guys playing at the time.

    The stigma of leaking corners long outlasted the "smiling" embouchure, and it remains in the public consciousness, along with a host of other pop myths, like the "sugar rush", the alleged camera filming the moon landing from the surface, and so on.

    The thing about the corners is that they don't actually do anything, except allow air in when it comes time to breath. They play no part in playing, except in terms of the belated discovery that they should be relaxed when you play.

    In other news . . . I went through about a dozen metronomes when I was a young player because I could never find one that would keep time with me . . .
  3. Darrien

    Darrien Pianissimo User

    Nov 27, 2008
    St Vincent (West Indies)
  4. trumpet037

    trumpet037 New Friend

    Aug 24, 2009
    As a teacher, if I had a student who leaked air from the corners, I would work with them on firming the corners by saying the word "dimm" and placing their lips together naturally, then approach playing the trumpet again while holding that "dimm". Add to that some long tones, then easier lip slurs as they get stronger. In my opinion, a problem such as that suggests an embouchure strength issue. The examples mentioned regarding players who can perform well with leaks are those who overcame the obstacle. For example, I play off to the side a bit, and for years my teachers tried to change it and told me it was wrong. Finally, my last teacher told me not to worry about it. If it works, it works, and there's nothing more to say. All you can do is try to start someone out the right way, and if they make it work another way without any detriment to their playing, well, more power to them.

    Relax and have fun, and continue to listen to recordings of great trumpet players to develop your concept of tone. Good luck.
    trumpetnick likes this.
  5. equivariant

    equivariant New Friend

    May 25, 2009
    Thank you all for the advice,

  6. gsmonks

    gsmonks Piano User

    I do this too, as do a good number of players. Not everyone has a perfectly symmetrical Cupid's Bow (the name for the most common embouchure).

    I use something like the "dimm" trick with my students, too. Step 1 for me is "say em-m-m-m-m". I prefer "em" because it sets up the centre while giving them a feel for keeping the centre together while leaving the corners loose and positioned for breathing.

    Whatever works.
  7. JonathanPhillips

    JonathanPhillips Pianissimo User

    Oct 14, 2010
    Cincinnati, Ohio USA
    Rowuk & BigTiny, THANK YOU!! Going back to the basics in ANY pursuit usually gives the answer. The pencil trick sans teeth is also helping me. Again, thanks!
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The cool thing about this thread is that nobody jumped on the first poster. A couple tried to help and we had a lot of agenda pushing in between.

    Leaking may not be a terrible thing, but it is better if we can keep it under control. The solution is to build proper chop strength and I teach slurs for this.

    That being said, players with advanced chops can also leak, but that is different. I use the pencil on occasion, but do slurs EVERY DAY. I have for the past 35 years except for a couple of days where I had medical issues. I do not leak when I don't want to.

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