My embouchure problem

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by lawrebea000, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. lawrebea000

    lawrebea000 New Friend

    Jun 30, 2014

    I am a high school trumpet player (Sophomore) and lately i've been having a lot of problems with range and endurance. I have reason to believe it has to do with my embouchure (teachers have told me that I don't use enough top lip). I have attached some pictures. Can you tell me what's wrong with it, and how to fix it? It's starting to feel really weird to play. Also, how long will it take to fix, and how hard will it be? I only have a little over two months until I start my concert and jazz band seasons. Also, I can only afford a couple lessons from an instructor. What should I do?
    FotoFlexer_Photo (1).jpg

  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Well...the obvious answer is to shift the mouthpiece, only that's not so obvious. You really don't use much top lip, but without actually seeing you play firsthand....I'm just not sure how much help you can get from people online who see the picture.

    Have you tried to shift it yourself to see if you can find a better spot? Keep in mind that any embouchure change is going to take time - there's no way around it, and unless you are being guided by someone who knows what they are talking about, your chances of actually improving your situation rest at about 50%.

    You said you can only afford a couple of lessons? DO IT. Find someone in your area who can help you and take a couple of lessons. That may be all it takes. I took a single lesson once with an area pro, and in that short amount of time he turned me on to some things that dramatically improved my situation and made getting through gigs easier once I'd employed them.

    Keep us posted.
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    If your problem started lately, what are you doing differently now?

    Nothing personal, but high schoolers have specific times of the school year where they come here and post just like you did. Perhaps this means that there is something about the end of the school year detrimental to playing, or more time online......

    I can tell you that embouchure help with a teacher is tough to get right. Online, where you don't know the qualifications of the advice giver, it is USELESS!

    The solution is not to change the embouchure, rather do things that build a good embouchure. This stuff is safe to recommend and generally gets the best results.

    breathing exercizes like yoga
    long tones

    Google my "Circle of Breath" for some safe info on getting a daily routine.
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Robin, did you look at the pic? Although I know that there are some funky looking usable embouchures out there, this one is pretty out of balance and it probably isn't one of them. Something should be done, but I agree - trying to solicit a chops fix online based on a photo probably isn't going to be much help.
  5. lawrebea000

    lawrebea000 New Friend

    Jun 30, 2014
    but do you guys think that I should start now? Also, to answer rowuk's question, it's about a month into summer for me, I just got back from jazz camp, and it was there (all of the stress on my lips) that I started to notice the extreme effects on my playing (however, I was noticing it before as well)
  6. Newell Post

    Newell Post Piano User

    Mar 31, 2014
    Silicon Valley
    There are all kinds of oddball embouchures out there that have worked for lots of players for lots of years. But "by the book" you are indeed using not enough top lip. The mouthpiece should be higher. The line between upper and lower lip should be slightly below the centerline of the mouthpiece. Your photo shows it well above the centerline. (You should use slightly more upper lip than lower.)

    The other commenters are right about lessons. Find a good local teaching pro and get their opinion before changing anything. But where you are now as a sophomore in HS, you should try to master the "textbook" method before experimenting with more "individual" adaptations. And if you do decide to make a change, you should do it very soon so you have time to work on it before school starts. ...just a few opinions from an old geezer who wishes he could take the Summer off before going back to school in the Fall....
  7. Cornyandy

    Cornyandy Fortissimo User

    Jan 9, 2010
    East Yorkshire
    I think this is one of the most extreme embouchures I have seen and I would advise you to do something about it. However although I do teach in the UK I would not like to give you suggestions without being able to work directly with you. If it is a little odd and it works well then fine. (one of my students picked up from another teacher) also has quite an extreme embouchure but in has case it is less extreme up and down he was just a little too far off centre for me to be totaly happy so we made slight changes. Upshot is he has worked hard to implement my suggestions (and a good teacher will work with you to make changes not against you to make them) This lad has a huge lip area and a marked off centre shape to his lip so asking him to be a centred as most of us are would be futile. If your embouchre is odd and things are not working then you have to ask why (especially if it worked before) if is it fatigue, have you overworked your lip, have you improved to such an extent that you practice more and through that are you putting more pressure on a weakly formed embouchure. Ask yourself these questions and try to be honest with yourself, then take the answers to a teacher who can see and hear you. (I often pick up potential issues with students from what I hear as much as what I am seeing).

    Hope this helps
  8. Jerry Freedman

    Jerry Freedman Piano User

    Mar 4, 2005
    The bottom line for all this is Get A Teacher. These days many top ranking teachers are using Skype.
  9. Comeback

    Comeback Forte User

    Jun 22, 2011
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Some have found this lesson series to be useful: 10 Trumpet Lessons By The 215th Army Band - YouTube. My embouchure was not ideal when I was in high school and it held me back a little. When I began my comeback decades later, I did the research and made sure I got it right. Doing so made a big difference. Good luck.
  10. lawrebea000

    lawrebea000 New Friend

    Jun 30, 2014
    I like all of your suggestions. I have decided to change my mp placement, but I will get an instructor first. I also emailed an embouchure expert (Lucinda Lewis of who gave me some good advice:

    "First, remove the main tuning slide from your trumpet. Take a small piece of plastic wrap (such as a 3-inch square of a Baggie), and put it over the end of the open pipe opposite your mouthpiece. Secure the plastic wrap with a rubber band so the opening of the pipe is completely covered. (Yes, yes, I know this sounds strange.)

    You want to do the following routines with a mirror. To begin, look in the mirror, and put your mouthpiece slightly higher on your upper lip, and prepare to play a note. Just like you were going to play, blow against the resistance (there should be no buzz or sound when you do this or air leakage from the corners of your lips). Also, don't blow with a lot of force. Blow for 5-10 seconds and stop. Your embouchure should look something like the attached photo of a French horn player doing the blowing exercise. The point is that when you do the blowing exercise, your embouchure should be engaged, working, look, and feel very much as it does when you are playing, except the buzzing of your lips is prevented because the end of your leadpipe is closed with the plastic wrap.

    Again, watch yourself in the mirror. Blow for 5 or 10 seconds, take your mouthpiece completely off of your lips, and repeat the blowing exercise, trying to replicate the new, higher mouthpiece placement. Do this 5-10-second, on-off blowing routine for 5 minutes, always trying to hit the new mouthpiece spot.

    After you've done the blowing routine for 5 minutes, remove the plastic wrap from the end of your leadpipe. With the main tuning slide still out, watch yourself in the mirror, put your mouthpiece on its new location, and prepare to play a note. Just as if you were going to play, buzz for 5-10 seconds, then stop, remove the mouthpiece completely from your lips, and repeat the buzzing exercise, each time trying to replicate the higher mouthpiece placement. Do this 5-10-second, on-off buzzing routine for 5 minutes. Do the blowing then buzzing routine 3 times a day for at least a week. Unless you have to play somewhere, I would recommend that you not play during the first week. After a week, continue using a mirror and doing the blowing/buzzing routines for 5 minutes each, but add 10 minutes of playing slow scales moderately loudly. Try to be consistent in hitting the new mouthpiece location. Do the blowing/buzzing/playing routine three times a day for another week. After that, go back to your daily playing routine, and play whatever etudes or exercises you ordinarily work on of a day. Use a mirror to help keep your new mouthpiece location consistent."

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