Open v. Closed Embouchure?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Ichierzen, Sep 18, 2009.

  1. Ichierzen

    Ichierzen Pianissimo User

    Sep 22, 2007

    I searched for closed embouchures, hoping this would be covered, but met with more results about mouthpiece placement than formation of embouchure.

    When I place the mouthpiece against my lips, from what I understand, my lips are to be closed in the "MMM" humming position, then the air forces them open to start the note.

    However, when I do put the mouthpiece to my lip I tend to keep an opening already made between my lips, so that all I feel is the rim, rather than also feeling the cup.

    I'm not encountering any problems at all, occasionally I get a double buzz, and my extreme register (extreme for me being high F/G as per Brandenburg) is fairly inconsistent from day to day, but I'm not straining to get those notes when I do. My studio professor has never said anything concerning mouthpiece placement/lip strength for these things so I've not thought much about it.

    I've just always wondered about open vs. closed lips before playing actually commences.

    Thanks all!
  2. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Man, you're going to get a million answers, or at least two: closed is good, open is good. What I tend to do, and this has been echoed by guys like Roger Ingram and other studio cats who have to spend plenty of time on both smaller and deeper mpc's to deal with the legit style of playing you often do in studio vs. the high, brilliant work one does playing lead in a big band, you're going to want more control of the aperture to be able to close it some with a larger piece: as Uan Rasey says, "it takes a little more work, but that's how I got the sound I wanted." On a smaller piece, you'll want to keep things a bit more open and let the added resistance of the cup work to do the closing. This seems to work for me. It's a small sort of difference, but if you connect yourself to the sound you want, your lips/breathing with do what's needed to get you there, IMO.

  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    You build good habits by playing softly ALOT. The lips actually open and close like a valve (always). When we blow harder than our embouchure strength can deal with, the open part is too open, too long and more air goes through than necessary, making playing very inefficient.

    I do not think that it is worth thinking about open or closed lips, that is actually useless
    information. What is important is a daily routine that builds strength from the bottom up and not the top down. If you are practicing HARD for 2 hours, exchange that for practicing at low impact for three (or 4).

    There is nothing that does not dramatically improve when we pamper our chops. Play very softly. Lots of long tones, slurs and tunes. Never beat yourself up during a practice session. A solid foundation keeps the house from collapsing one day.
    A double buzz is simply a sign of chops not under control.

    There is also an equilibrium that should be mentioned. When we play inefficiently, we have to blow much harder to get the job done, to the point where the horn fights back. When we have our chops under control, we do not need to fight the instrument, we work in harmony with it. Even when we are playing very loudly, efficiency is our friend. That is why a lead trumpet player in a big band can play for 3-4 hours - they do not fight the instrument.

    Maybe one last comment. The true sign of an accomplished player is one that can make a whisper entry in perfect time - every time. Most players come in late when they have to play softly because the lips simply do not respond well.

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