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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    Huh? Really? Have you watched those videos I posted earlier?

    The vermillion is a completely arbitrary feature that is different on different players. One player can place with the same ratio of upper to lower lip as another and one can have all the rim on the red while the other is placed above the red. There is no reason to even be considering the red of the lip.

    On the other hand, your argument against a placement on the red seems to be based on the idea that you don't want to hinder the vibrating surface of the upper lip. Since the vermillion is arbitrary, you're really just talking about placing the mouthpiece low enough so that the rim contact somehow changes the "geometry" of how you think embouchures are supposed to function. This is why I'm talking low placement, not just on the red. But if you look at those videos I posted above, you'll see some fine brass playing with placements on the red of the lips too.

    This has nothing to do with my points. Of course the lips open and close. This is part of the vibration cycle.

    I never said integration wasn't important or helpful. I said that talking about fixing problems with integration doesn't directly address the specific embouchure issues we're discussing.


    Interesting links, some good info in there. I didn't notice a single mention of mouthpiece placement in any of them (although the slide show you linked to has what looks like a low placement player buzzing into a visualizer). What point are you trying to make by posting them?

    True, and irrelevant to the topic of mouthpiece placement.

    This doesn't appear to be supported in any of your links, but I didn't take the time to reread them all very closely. Please quote if you have a source.

    And it's equally easy to get hung up on breathing or playing long tones and miss something else that's important. This is again the false dichotomy that I was warning against earlier. Any time you start discussing embouchure, someone gets hung up on how integration or breathing or something else is the key. If you want to make a case against my points, don't do it by creating a straw man and arguing against something I never said.

    Tell this to the musicians that I posted above playing in the red. Frankly, I personally play better in the red and feel handicapped if I move my placement higher. You're partially correct, this is true for most players. Not all.

    Simply stating something confidently doesn't make it true, although I might generally agree. What I'm warning against is that if this how you always teach, you only have one tool available to you and you're also only giving your students one tool to use on their own later. Intentional omission because you don't feel it's necessary in "most" cases is the same point I'm arguing about with teaching students to avoid placing in the red entirely - it's not true for all cases.



    Best,


    Dave
     
  2. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    Sadly, many instrumental music teachers, instructors, tutors are NOT qualified on the nuances of a brass imusical instrument as are those that are proficient with them, albeit they may be so with the other musical instruments they themselves can play well.
     
  3. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    Wilktone, How much time would you waste (days, months, years) attempting to teach all the embouchure variations to a section of beginning 11 year old recalcitrant trumpet students, rather than to address specifically those that had issue with an improper embouchure one on one. Really, does any individual trumpet player need to know more than what issue affects them. Such is akin to a Doctor giving a patient a complete course in medicine when all they need to know what ails them at the moment and what medicine or therapy will make them well, or at least make them feel well enough to resume a quality of life.

    I've now had to rebuild my trumpet embouchure 3 times, once due to a lapse in playing, once due to severe health, and again due to dental issues. Did I do so correctly, perhaps not, but I did do it well enough to enjoy it and just yesterday play for 4 hours "lip time" (the longest I've ever played) in the company of a competent and proficient clarinet-saxophone-flute and piccolo player (ex Army band), and a proficient keyboardist whose curricula vitae I wasn't told and didn't really need to know as his playing was superior and he was playing a lot he had not played before. Too, I played music I've never played before in genres of country and western that are not my favorites.

    Personal performance anecdotes may not be meaniful to others, but they certainly sustain my playing.
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Wilktone, my point is that we have to insure the FUNCTIONALITY of the chops. The less restricted the embouchure, the less force the fine motor activity needs and higher efficiency related to breathing. Anything restricting the lip switch increases the amount of effort required to play. Loss of efficiency=bad.

    I have no dogmatic approach to chops other than too much attention is paid to them long before the real problems in trumpet playing are dealt with.

    My point is embouchure compared to any other facet of playing is at best guesstimate. Without physically seeing Wilktone play, everything else is speculative. No one claims that it is impossible to play on the red. Most address symptoms and not the real necessary functions. The assumption that an "embouchure" is at fault for any specific issue assumes that the embouchure is something static perhaps diseased and in need of treatment. For this I have little if no evidence.

    The silver bullet is always a combination of things. Integration. Our breath support is linearly related to the amount of pressure and the flexibility of the chops - regardless of embouchure. Inversely, the required embouchure is linearly related to our breath support and fine motor activity. Separating them does not work. Regardless of the embouchure type, reducing the restriction of the upper lip always results in better playing (provided the foundation of breathing and body use are well established).

    You can believe anything that you want to. You can teach anything that you want to. There is a reason that many in the know do not jump on your band wagon. I do not need a chainsaw if my job is engraving.......

    By the way, I did go through your whole website. I found nothing compelling. Just a bunch of assumptions that do not correspond to my teaching experience with players at all levels of competence.

    I will not deny the possibility that your playing got better on the red. You however should consider the possibility that that particular band aid was maybe not the cure, just better than what preceded it.
     
  5. wilktone

    wilktone New Friend

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    What a loaded question. How much time would I waste? Hopefully none. Here's what I wrote earlier:

    I don't know that any of your last post addressed any points I made about mouthpiece placement.

    Which is exactly why I think it's important to learn more about it. I try to keep the guess work out of embouchure.

    What does any of this have to do with a low mouthpiece placement?


    Dave
     
  6. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    Wilktone, I truly don't believe any trumpet player needs to be concerned with embouchure at all unless they are encountering problems with their own performance. Really, such transcends into the medical sphere if it does, at least a medical or dental cause has to be ruled out. Perhaps that is why such is NOT specifically addressed in the college level instrumental music courses and why Arban's and others don't or didn't either.

    With youthful facial muscles still developing, the students emulation of my demonstration is the safer mode towards their successful achievement, but there is more in my demonstration of other techniques such as breathing, phrasing, reading music, etc.
     
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Ed forget it. With a "red" agenda, what can we expect? Let him keep his band aid. He is not looking for compelling arguments. The worst part starts with embouchure assumptions before even having seen the student play. In my opinion, this is the most dangerous type of teacher.

    I have no guesswork. I promote the necessary functionality by working on the supporting parameters. The human state has a wonderful mechanism for detecting "easier". When we enable the flexibility of the upper lip, magic happens. That does not result until the foundation is laid.

    I look at trumpet players with problems a lot. I have no desire to lead them somewhere that has been a big handicap for other students.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2012
  8. wilktone

    wilktone New Friend

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    I was afraid that this thread would end up going in this direction. Now, rather than discussing mouthpiece placement and trying to make logical conclusions based on observable facts, we’re down to flaming each other and arguing who is the better teacher. I’ll try one last time to summarize my 4 main points and 1 side topic.

    1. There is no anatomical or medical reason that makes it plausibly damaging to place the mouthpiece on the vermillion. We seem to have at least come to a consensus on this here.

    2. The vermillion is an incredibly variable and arbitrary feature related to brass embouchures. Using the red of a player’s lips as a guide for mouthpiece placement is going to end up with completely different results from player to player.

    3. The argument that a low placement (whether it’s on the red of the upper lip or not) will inhibit the vibrations of the upper lip is true, but is based on the assumption that all players will play best with a higher mouthpiece placement. Not all players will play best with a low placement, but many do.

    4. There are some very fine professional players who place very low on the lips, and some of them who place right on the red of their upper lip. The assumption that players cannot make this mouthpiece placement work efficiently appears to not be correct for all players, but spot on for others.

    Until new evidence come to my attention, I have to conclude that it’s most likely that placing on the red of the upper lip is fine, and there really isn’t any good reason for teachers to discourage this a priori. It all comes down to what works best for the individual student.

    As a side topic, there is a wealth of information about brass embouchures available but a lot of it is contradictory and some of it is just plane wrong. It’s challenging to sift through all of what’s out there and separate the wheat from the chaff. Many people feel that the simplest solution is just to ignore most of it and focus on something else. I don’t feel that the other things that must be addressed in brass pedagogy are unimportant in the slightest, but rather argue that a better understanding of embouchure form and function is useful for putting the pieces together into a more unified whole.

    I’m happy to discuss the above points, but it seems the half life of this topic has run its course. I’ll try to poke in later, but if anyone wants me to address any future questions or comments about this topic you may want to send a private message instead to make sure I see it.


    Best,


    Dave
     
  9. Pat S

    Pat S Piano User

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    Fellas, I know that this is a relatively emotional topic for you, but as someone who hasn't spent much time pondering ANY of these issues, the discussion has been very, very useful. Thanks to all for sharing your viewpoints. From my exceedingly limited perspective, my mouthpiece goes where it feels "natural" to put it, and everything after that has been breath support!
     
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Wilktone is right, this thread ended up where topics like this usually do. For the usual reasons: no proof, missing the important stuff.

    The reason is simple, an embouchure is incredibly complex and there are no "landmarks" to guide us to a "better" one. I do not consider embouchure advice on the internet to be productive because it is only a very small part of a much bigger picture. The functional embouchure is directly tied to breathing, body use, ears and brain. If we don't get all of them at the same time, an incredible amount of luck is required.

    For anyone interested in changing embouchures, my advice is to always get a second opinion.
     

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