Mouthpiece placement

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by SpiritDCI08, Sep 21, 2009.

  1. SpiritDCI08

    SpiritDCI08 Piano User

    Feb 11, 2009
    Fort Campbell, KY
    Recently we had Ken Watters come to my school and hold a master class.
    He played us some jazz and then instucted us for a while.
    He took my fellow trumpeter and myself aside to talk to us personally.
    He commented that my friend used more of his top lip.
    He stated that this will help him with range.
    He said that I use a perfect half and half combination.
    He stated that this will give me a stronger middle range.
    Is this correct?
    Will this effect my quest to a strong upper register?
  2. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    I would not change my embouchure from someone's comments. If you are wanting to do an embouchure change or pursue this get with a teacher who knows what they are doing with embouchure and let them be your guide. If you are going to make a change you need to work with someone on a consistant basis.
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006

    Only practice will build your high range. Forget an embouchure change, you want to get into college. Changing will only slow everything down!
  4. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    If your mouthpiece placement is good for the 'middle range,' (something I've never heard of before) that is ideal--you are half-way between the upper and lower ranges and simply need to expand your range rather than develop it! Do the boring stuff--long tones, melodic studies, transposition and listen, listen, listen--that will do you far more good than a chop change!
  5. markquinn

    markquinn New Friend

    Jun 9, 2009
    There is no physiology basis for the statements that were made to your friend.

    Embouchures are a relationship between teeth, lips and jaw.
  6. Annie

    Annie Piano User

    Nov 13, 2003
    Never heard of "good for middle range" or 'good for high range placement" before either. But, I will say that I do know of at least a few lead players who do favor either the top or bottom lip when going into the high range - and then there are also the others that keep it right firm in the center.

    To be honest, I've always figured placement has a lot to do with how your teeth are structured - everyone is different, so there is no one set rule to how the horn should be placed. 50/50 tends to be at least a good starting point.
  7. TrumpetLucian

    TrumpetLucian Pianissimo User

    May 7, 2009
    As long as your placement is comfortable for you, and producing good results, then keep it. A 50/50 is usually pretty standard as far as mouthpiece placement, so I see no reason for you to change something that seems to be working.
  8. Sparks

    Sparks New Friend

    Jan 2, 2009
    Rochester, MN
    Interesting topic, I've always wondered about the mouthpiece placement thing too. Trumpet virtuosos like Arban recommend 1/3 top lip 2/3 bottom. However, if you look at Maggio and Claude Gordon methods, it states 2/3 top, 1/3 bottom. I started at the 50/50 and tend to use a little less of my top lip on the mouthpiece.

    I'm skeptical that the placement can make that big of difference, and it probably doesn't matter a whole lot to the point where I'd flip the embochure out of the blue. I use what I'm used to. The important thing I think is that players don't go extreme going more than the 2/3 on the top or bottom lip because then one lip isn't vibrating right.
  9. Bach219

    Bach219 Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 25, 2008
    It seems like for me to use 1/3 upper lip and 2/3 lower lip make me play higher, but with a thinner tone. When I attempt to play 50/50, my tone is somewhat fuller, but the upper register does not come with ease.

    By the trumpet lessons start next Tuesday!!!!! Thought I added that in, can't wait!!!!
  10. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    I have always used the 50/50 method - along with the tightly pulled lips - I guess it's called the 'smile' method. I did not know there was anything else until I joined this forum a few months ago. Since I am an inveterate experimenter, I decided to try different methods just to see if I could detect anything that worked better.

    When I first started playing again, my entire face would tire very quickly from using the smile method and I could not play anything until I had rested. Of course, as I worked at it, the practice time increased gradually but the high notes (above about top-line F) would still fade after just a few minutes. So, one day when the fade had set in, I decided to try some things other than 50/50. I tried 2/3 top and 1/3 bottom and could not blow any notes at all. Then I tried 1/3 top and 2/3 bottom and found that I could hit the high notes that had faded only minutes before - and, in fact, even higher notes that I could not reach (like high E). I tried this on several occasions to ensure that I had eliminated other variables and found that it worked consistently. The problem was that I could not play the low or mid range notes with this method which meant that I would need to change my position in the middle of playing to use it on high notes only - not good if the music involves a fast run from low to high notes - or vice versa. So, I have not adopted that as a permanent embouchure change.

    However, at the same time, I tried another change. Instead of keeping my lips pulled tightly across my teeth using my cheek muscles, I let my lips relax slightly and push into the mouthpiece a little ways. I had read about the 'pucker' method but could never make any buzz with my lips fully puckered (like I was going to kiss a baby).

    However, the formation that I adopted was more what I would call 'pursing' my lips - I'd say it is like positioning the lips to spit out a watermelon seed. When I analyze the effect, I realize that with the smile method, the buzzing happens right at the boundary between the skin around the lips and the soft mucous membrane of the lips. When I use the pursing technique, the buzzing moves back maybe 1 or 2 mm into the fleshy part of the lips. Also, the tension on the lips is maintained by the muscles around the mouth rather than the cheek muscles. This placement is back to the 50/50 top/bottom that I started with.

    With this technique, I can play high notes much longer without tiring. The high and middle range tone is good. The low range tone is not so good but I think this is because I also moved from a very large mouthpiece to a very small one at the same time as it seemed to help the tone of the high notes. The low tones are gradually coming along so when they are back to full status, I think I will have a new embouchure which improves my endurance, range and tone quality all at the same time. I am still working on making it a habit as I tend to revert to the smile method when the music is complex and I can't consciously focus on the embouchure. But, so far I am encouraged.

    I hope this helps anyone who has a question about this.

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