Playing "In the Red" With Big Lips

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpetaddict, May 18, 2012.

  1. wilktone

    wilktone New Friend

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    Having had this conversation multiple times with many different people I'm already familiar with the arguments this takes and have already commented on Rowak's criticisms in the link that Gary posted above. If you're curious to understand the logic and evidence that I use to base my own approach to teaching embouchure you can learn about it there. I'm hesitant to go any further because this discussion is now framed in such a way that for me to try to defend my viewpoint I can't help but be seen to be criticizing Rowak's teaching. As I know nothing about Rowak other than what I've read lurking on this forum I don't think I have enough information to even speculate about why he and I have very different teaching experiences.

    Which brings us back to the OP's original question. Frankly, I think any discussion of the vermillion is completely arbitrary and shouldn't even come up with regards to embouchure. There's no physiological reason why it's wrong and the variation of size and shape from player to player is so wide as to make any sort of recommendation for placement based on it arbitrary. The actual issue that this comes down to is that some players will play better with more lower lip inside the mouthpiece and as this embouchure type functions in some key different ways from the other more common embouchure types, many teachers don't understand how to best help these players.

    As far as successful players who place on the red, it is not so common but not completely unheard of either. Again, if you go to the link Gary posted above you can see some images and some links and references to other resources that show this.

    Conversations like this tend to go into a false dichotomy, and I hope no one misunderstands the points I'm trying to make. There are frequently times when moving a player's placement around can help enormously, I just don't think the red of the lips is a good reason to consider in this case. Place the mouthpiece where it works best and then develop embouchure strength and control - in conjunction with working on efficient breathing, tonguing, expressive playing, etc.

    Best of luck to the OP.


    Dave
     
  2. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

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    because it's hard to know the tone of a post ... please read/hear this as a conversation ... not as in being argumentative ... some threads get heated and it's not my frame of mind in this one.
    I really thought this one over before I posted. If I didn't have any personal experience I think I would have passed. The mirror thing did work but obviously created some nerousis associated with mp placement... so that's not good. I can say that the long tones and breathing created an awareness in resonance and tone quality that I never experienced before. I can see how that would work.
    The biggest problem I can see in acknowledging the rare possibility of playing "in the red" as a viable alternative is the OP, whom none of us have heard play, could construe that they are the exception even though all of those points have been quantified with " the result is key, not the mechanics (within reason)". If the OP had a full ride to Juliard and the OP was his instructor then I am sure this thread would have taken on a different tone.
    We have an Artist in Residence saying "don't play in the red" and some heavy hitters saying the same thing. My gut is the OP is doing this to play in the upper register ... because that's what I did when I was in JR High.
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I think that we are closer together than it sounds. The reason that my teaching experience is different is because we have different students. I have mine for an average of 7 years.

    My comments should not be taken as criticism. If a teacher gets results, everyone benefits. I can't explain why none of my students found their efficiency in the red.
     
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  4. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Rowuk, please do PM me where I can send you these articles. This is not academic... this is information used in treating and advising trumpet players as how to prevent muscle damage... we call this preventative medicine, and outcomes of individuals that went on to incur damage, both motor (muscle) and neurological (mouthpiece dystonia) we call this therapy. It distinguishes beginners’ use of muscle from experts. There is a difference that can be used in teaching and advising INDIVIDUALS how to best utilize their embouchure. Again, this in not academic information, it is information that is applied to enhance, protect and if need treat individuals with embouchure difficulties.
     
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Gary,

    PM on the way. Funny thing after a couple of hundred students and no dystonia or motor damage issues is that the steady diet of good things (I call it the daily routine) has proven universal regardless of embouchure type and condition. I don't teach lips. That is a by product of the daily routine and close musical monitoring. Maybe I have been very fortunate not having to deal with trashed faces or flying bricks. I have had a couple of stroke patients however and they were back playing before they could talk again.

    It is tough enough sometime getting players back to ground zero after their bout with a self proclaimed Chop Doc.
     
  6. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

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    years ago I read an interview with Armstrong. There he said that he cut his lip when he tried to play too many high Cs in a row. he actually took some meat out of his top lip.
     
  7. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

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    Gmonady, I read the artcle you posted. I found a number of errors in concept and logic. But the worst one was the pictuce of Severnson saying he played in the red. I watched him up close for too many years and know that this is false. I would be glad to discuss this with you if you like. As for the other trumpet players he posted, who are they?
     
  8. wilktone

    wilktone New Friend

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    I would like it if you could clarify these so I can either make fix my arguments or adjust my ideas.

    Yes, I concede that Severinsen places the mouthpiece low, but his upper lip isn't above the rim. How do you know it isn't contacting the rim like I describe in my article? Not to mention, the following qualification that I made right below Severinsen's photo where I wrote, "While these players, and some of the other examples I use in my videos, have varying amounts of rim contact on the vermilion of their upper lip, I think it’s fair to state that you can indeed fine examples of brass players who play quite successfully with their mouthpiece placed on the red of their upper lip."

    I know this isn't intentional, coolerdave, but this is really the framing that I was worried about earlier. It doesn't matter how great a player is or how long he has been teaching, what is important is if the facts support their assertions. When a "heavy hitter's" points are linked to their curriculum vita it's hard to disagree without appearing to be also criticizing their work. I don't think it's deliberate, but it's food for the trolls.

    Furthermore, our collective anecdotal experiences on this topic are varied and contradictory. Not to mention that by their very nature, anecdotes are biased. The plural of anecdote is not evidence, no matter how long you've been teaching or playing. That's not to say that long experience doesn't offer insights that are worth learning more about, but that experience alone doesn't make us correct. Wouldn't it be best to let the ideas carry the discussion forward, rather than who said them?

    With that in mind, what can we say about this topic?

    The argument against placing the mouthpiece on the red for anatomical reasons appears to be bogus. I think the current consensus here is that there’s no plausible evidence for it.

    As far as the bio-mechanical arguments against placing on the red, they are based on an incomplete understanding of the variety of brass embouchure types and how they can function differently from each other. There are players who correctly place the mouthpiece with more lower lip inside and use more upper rim contact, some directly on the red. Most players don’t want to set the mouthpiece so low, but there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it.

    Now when it comes to discussing the pedagogical implications of this, I will leave it up to you to make up your own mind. Many teachers make a big deal of always fixing a student's mouthpiece placement if it's low, let alone on the red. If you're a student and your teacher is having you move your placement, there are some good questions that you should be asking and perhaps you may want to consider a second opinion, if you can find one that is knowledgeable about brass embouchure types and in particular about the low placement one.

    Best,

    Dave
     
  9. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    Perhaps my vision isn't normal, but I've yet to see a trumpet player, pro or student, that has both inner and outer rim of their mouthpiece wholly above the redness of their upper lip. To resolve this in my tutoring beginners, I use a very thin coffee stirring straw that can pass through a mpc to center their mpc between their lips, This seemingly negates my concern about whether their lips are thick or thin. The results speak for themselves in the sound produced.

    One peeve I have that irks me no end is any player that uses too much elbow pressure and squeezes their lips inside the mpc cup. With a shallow mpc cup, they certainly risk choking off their sound ... bottoming out as it were ... and with others they cannot then optimize the mpc design.

    Very few of us have played an Assymmetric mpc, as to my knowledge only KT and myself. To most others the use of the Asymmetric mpc may visually externally appear extremely as low placement, but indeed it is not. The upper inner rim of this mpc is near the same as any other mpc in relationship to the cup as likewise the inner lower rim. What I've noted is that I do not have to exert a rigidness to my lower lip as much with the wider lower rim of the Asymmetric which supports it. My only complaint is the flat narrow upper rim afforded little cushoned comfort ... I abandoned the French horn for this same reason.

    Think of it this way if you will. Consider your aperture in relation to the throat of your mpc. Then is your air flow sliding down the sides of your mpc cup and centering into the throat or fanning out either upward or downward and partially dissipating?
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2012
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Dave,
    only very few think that staying out of the red is bogus. You haven't produced any evidence so why label current working practice as food for the trolls? The assumption that only incomplete understanding of the material can lead to disagreement is also only reserved for very few.

    If you are successful, rejoice! If you have hard evidence that would make you better qualified, we are all interested. Just look at the incredible accomplishments in the paraolympics! The human body is very resilient and if we are willing to accept certain comprimises, we can accomplish quite a bit with just about any type of handicap. That does not make them necessarily worth "recommending" or teaching. Each of us that has a commitment to teaching has a comfort zone that can be passed on to students. I am very interested in expanding that area but for "in the red" have zero evidence. Your post is long but with nothing tangible.

    Acedemically we could split statistically significant and "evidence". For most students, they prefer to invest time in things with better odds of a return on invest. No one can predict where a significant embouchure change will end up. I too prefer to increase the odds of success. I took lessons from teachers with a great track record and do my best to pass that torch on.

    My main reason for being suspicious about in the red is that I have evidence that a smaller (tightly), controlled aperature leads to much more efficient playing as well as force "pressure" being a real part of everyones playing. Anchoring the chops "in the red" is counter-productive to that tight aperature. That is geometry. The more open the aperature, the more degradation of the standing wave in the horn due to the leaky front end. Air in the players tone is a very real part of the "in the red" players that I have met and worked with. Tightening the aperature up has been a universal help.


    This thread went in a very wrong direction when "tissue damage" came up. I am sure that this is not the problem. The real issue with embouchure is the integration of the face muscles, articulation, body use and breathing. Every limiting factor can be compensated to a degree by the rest of our body parameters. Not playing in the red supports all of the things that I currently deem to be important. My mind can be changed, but a lot of pieces need to fit together. This thread has offered none.

    Let me know how "in the red" and tight aperature fit together. How do you address efficiency? Airy tone? Are there any "in the red players" belting out Arbans Carnival of Venice with any real quality? What about lead players in a commercial big band? Symphonic players? I play professionally in Europe and know of none that play or teach this.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2012

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