Puffed Cheeked beginner - help!!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by musicbuff, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. musicbuff

    musicbuff New Friend

    Nov 6, 2008
    Hey all - I have a new student playing about a month who can't seem to
    control his facial muscles "embouchure" . I swear he seems to have no muscle tone what so ever. He does have good pitch and rhythm and
    gets a sound. But his cheeks and his lips puff out with the pressure
    of the air. I thought that the muscles would strengthen over the next few weeks but not much progress is going on. I have tried having him tighten all the muscles of the face
    and make a tight expression then try to buzz on the moutpiece. This
    however does not work - the cheeks seem to have no strength
    whatsoever. I am ready to call his folks and encourage percussion.
    What would you do if you were me??? I appreciate any advice!! Thanks!!
  2. max3k

    max3k Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 7, 2007
    I recommend having him whistle for you. If he doesnt puff his cheeks while whistling, you can encourage him to get that same "feeling" while playing the horn. It will take some time. Good Luck!
  3. nosray

    nosray Pianissimo User

    Aug 28, 2008
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    I don't know much about teaching, but if you take a look at Dizzy Gillespie he plays fine with puffed cheeks. Maybe that is just the way he has to play. If it is fine I think you should just let him be. If he has problems with tone, range, or whatever, then change it.
  4. TrumpEd

    TrumpEd Pianissimo User

    Oct 9, 2008
    I think John Haynie (University of North Texas) did some kind of air flow studies for trumpet players with a flouroscope (years ago) and published them. I'll have to look around and see if there is any mention of puffed cheeks.
  5. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    Please do not use Dizzy as an example of being able to play with exterme puffing of the lips. have you heard how he played later in life when most trumpet players were still going strong. his cheeks were so streched by this time that he was a shadow of his former self. it is never OK to encourge this.

    For the student try having him play another instrument like sax or trombone and see if he does the same thing. If his cheek muscles didn't work at all I don't think he would be able to chew his food. If he can chew hard candy the problem is not lack of muscle.

    Bob G

    Bob G
  6. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    Have him work in front of a mirror while trying to keep his cheeks in. Demonstrate what the face should look like and have him work to copy the proper embouchure and face. Also, I might think about him working on air stream. Puffed cheeks are only holding air that could be used in the horn.
  7. musicbuff

    musicbuff New Friend

    Nov 6, 2008
    Thanks for all the help - The airstream and mirror ideas are good. He is a great kid
    so I will keep encouraging him. let me know if you find any more info on the subjectI would never recommend that he continue this way. If it doesn't get better we
    will have to consider switching to a non-wind. thanks
  8. country4363

    country4363 New Friend

    Dec 18, 2007
    No two of us play the same. Yes this is a bad habit,but this is a beginner. Good tone and pitch is what we all strive for what workes for one does not work for the next. A 40 year lesson I have learned.
  9. trumpet_man

    trumpet_man Piano User

    Jan 17, 2008
    I had played for a couple of years before I finally abandoned puffing out my cheeks all together, one month is nothing to worry about. And if trumpet doesn't work out, realize that it's the hardest to keep from puffing your cheeks out of all of the instruments, Baritone or French horn may work too.
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    actually, this is a sign of a relaxed approach! Still it needs to change. I would recommend Eric Bolvins pencil trick to get the muscles firmed up.


    When pressing the lips together with the letter "M" there should be enough tension to keep the cheeks from puffing. The pencil trick will strengthen the right muscles.

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