Need some help with a beginning student...

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by James Smock, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. James Smock

    James Smock New Friend

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    I have a beginning student who blows a large, fleshy bit of internal top lip into the cup of the mouthpiece. Imagine a large cupid's bow situated BEHIND the center of the top lip.

    When he blows into the mouthpiece, the extra lip collapses inward, his aperture being formed by the inside of the top lip, and usual spot on the bottom. I learned this today when I asked him to use the embouchure visualizer.

    Can anyone recommend a course of action?


    Thanks.
     
  2. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

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    How does he sound? I know a guy who's a plays a little like that and sounds great. If he struggles, maybe moving the mouthpiece over to one side the other would use a more normal part of the lip. OR...maybe his apperture is just too open. Have him try saying "Hymn" and then putting the mouthpiece on.

    Take all this with a grain of salt since I haven't ever seen or heard him, but good luck!

    Jason.
     
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Hard to picture. Could you post a digital photograph of his chops?
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    As we are blowing in the direction of the mouthpiece, there will be a certain amount of "inner lip" exposed. The mouthpiece visualiser makes this look scarier than it is because there is no cup or throat to provide the necessary "back-pressure" to support the lips. PedalCs' "M" like in Hymn is a very good start.
    If your student has otherwise strong chops, don't dwell on it - just get them buzzing on the mouthpiece to strengthen the corners. That will provide more "muscle" support. If the embouchure is weak, make them back off on the volume, lots of lip slurs, long tones and buzzing at no more than mp.

    I find things like this the most dangerous in teaching - I normally see what the student isn't doing right, don't tell them, but give them exercises to fix it. When the problem is "solved", we talk about it. Why? Very simple: I have had too many students ruined by other teachers that kept telling and showing them everything that is wrong about their approach. Not all people turn this stuff into positive motivation, but rather use what they were told as an excuse why things don't work. Informing them after the fact means that they have accomplished something - it stays all positive and no excuses! They then have the knowledge of what was wrong AND how to fix it - without psychosis!
     
  5. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

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    Rowuk,
    That is very interesting...I had a discussion recently with the 1st Principal Trumpet of Opera National de Paris Nikolaj Viltoft The Copenhagen Post Opéra national de Paris - L'Orchestre de L'Opéra national de Paris who told me that he was never correcting his students' embouchure but just spoke about air and sound cause he thought that adjusting someone else's embouchure may be quite dangerous. Iguess that we are going back to Manny's discussion about talented students...who are supposed to do these adjustments themselves...
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Nick,
    I didn't say that I wouldn't change the embouchure or any facet of it, I just said that unlike a surgeon, I don't generally go into great detail during the process. Many things can be solved just by learning to take that relaxed breath and standing or sitting up "straight". I do not describe at what angle the prostate or other body organs should be for maximum projection of sound. The more concentration a student puts into how and what his body is doing during their playing, the less room they have for musical thoughts.
    In this case, without knowing what to look for, an embouchure visualiser can lead to a level of misinformation because the lip is not "supported" by back pressure from the mouthpiece/horn. This misinformation could possibly lead to a student or teacher worrying about a "non-problem" thus stealing intellectual capacity that should be in the creative process. Advanced players have more inherent strength and a visualiser can show what they do - but so what? Does a student need to know that if they play 4 - 5 hours a day, after a year or two the visualiser will give them similar results?
    To give any advice, we need to know if the student has a sound, range, dynamic or consistency problem. Those situations can be responded to with proper exercises. Buzzing on a mouthpiece and visualising an "M" before playing don't hurt in any case.
     
  7. James Smock

    James Smock New Friend

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    Thanks for the replies, folks.

    The student has only been playing for about 3 weeks now. He doesn't seem to be able to manipulate the pitch with any consistency, and the highest note I've heard come out of the horn is a C below the treble staff. Also, he seems to be able to play any pitch with any fingering...and has much difficulty stabilizing any pitch--it's like an ice rink.

    Generally, I avoid messing with students' embouchures, and rely on sound concept as the path to improvement, but based on the results, this seems like a legitimate embouchure fault.

    I haven't told him that anything is wrong, and for that reason I'm loathe to photograph his embouchure.

    Thanks again.
     
  8. masterfulmusic29

    masterfulmusic29 New Friend

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    Try having your student roll their lips inward and try buzzing into the mouthpiece. (or if you want to make a lot of money you could take that any pitch any fingering thing on the road) Yeah I'm kidding. Good luck.
    James
     
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Being able to play any pitch without fingering is a great talent! Would probably also make a great sax player..................

    To be able to bend pitches around that much, the tongue has to be VERY high in the oral cavity (I use this on the natural trumpet) AND the breath support is most likely very low (I do not use this on the natural trumpet!). This does not sound like embouchure to me!

    I would recommend, putting the horn down, deeply inhaling (without raising the shoulders!) and when full IMMEDIATELY exhaling - without holding the air in. Practice that a couple times until it works, then replace exhale with play - just a long note - NO TONGUING! What note comes out is not significant. They need to get that big breath to support a resonant tone until they can play a steady low C, G, middle C. You inhale and then play the note first - they imitate. The inhale/exhale strategy keeps the tongue out of the way. Once they have a decent tone, introduce fingering (the correct way to play "other" notes) and at the very end - very carefully - tonguing.

    It is often useful to get them playing tunes on the mouthpiece - also without tonguing - keeps the air flowing - exactly what is required!
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2007
  10. amazingmorris

    amazingmorris New Friend

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    He sounds like he has might have the same problem I used to have when I tried to play like the other players in junior high band and my playing just got worse.
    Turns out that I am born an "upstream" player who should play slightly above the center of the mouthpiece, with more lower lip and less upper lip, with the upper lip curling under the lower lip as I ascend the scales, with trumpet tilted upward very slightly.
    I was trying to imitate "downstream" players who played slightly lower than center of mouthpiece, with slightly more upper lip and slightly less lower lip, with lower lip curling under the upper lip, with trumpet tilted downward very slightly.
    When I tried to imitate downstream players I would have my upper lip touch the inside of shallow cups because it was in there so far.
    Even after I discovered that I am upstream type embouchure I still cannot play most Schilke A cups because my lips bottom out in them, but many downstream players can use Schilke A cups just fine.
    That might not be your student's problem, but just throwing out wild guesses.

    A cup with smaller diameter might hold the lip in place better and / or deeper cup might accommodate the extra lip without addressing the cause of the problem?

    - morris
     

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