Should I change my embouchure?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by mummytuf, Aug 13, 2013.

  1. mummytuf

    mummytuf New Friend

    Aug 8, 2011
    Hi! I first picked up the trumpet about 5 years ago when I was in the 5th grade and I am a incoming 10th grader looking to improve with any help possible. In the beginning of the 7th grade, I had got braces and the transition on the trumpet was terrible. For quite some time I could not play until I got use to the pain which eventually I did. The beginning of 7th grade before I got my braces, the highest note I could hit was a G above staff. Too me, that was quite a accomplishing thing to be able to play. But after I got my braces, the highest note I could hit was C or a Db. I got my braces off about 4-5 months ago and that set me back. This relates to my question because once I started playing again, I believe I might have switched moved my embouchure to the side more then it should be. I am not quite sure but it is a guess. I am going in the 10th and my embouchure is slightly to the left. Doing some research I learned that this is okay but I also heard that this could be limiting my range and tone. Playing anything below a D, my tone is fine but slowly going up by half step, I get an airy sound and my range is very limited. Hitting a G is hard even when I've been working on it for weeks to months. I do a lot of scales, lip slurs but see little to no improvements later in the weeks and following months. I have a show coming up in band and it requires quite some range to hit some of the notes. I was hoping that this would help me some how or maybe I could get some tips or guidance to where I should be going with this. Thanks a lot!

    TLDR; Should I change my embouchure if the mouthpiece placement is more on the left size of the lips then it is centered.

    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013
  2. Cornyandy

    Cornyandy Fortissimo User

    Jan 9, 2010
    East Yorkshire
    I don't like to see extreme off to the side embouchure placement, (I worry more when the horn is actually not straight out but angled too) I would bear in mind three or four things.

    1) Perhaps most importantly we on here cannot see you play and see your embouchure. So any advice can only be general.

    2) General point good tone is usually difficult to achieve without an embouchure close to central.

    3) Being slightly to one side is mothing to stress about it comes from a dental structure not being straight. I play directly in front of my incisors which a slightly to my right hand side. (Bring on the gags about English mouths and all that)

    4) In effect your Braces have changed the character of the inside of your mouth and your lips will take time to find their best point to play from, perhaps a long time if you do not follow my next bit of advice.

    Please, Please, Please find yourself a private tutor (appologies if you have one but with the struggle you are having they are not doing their job). You need someone to look at your emboucher and with their input you should be able to find out what is not quite right. I suspect the airy sound may be caused by excess pressure changing the vibration pattern on your lip pressure you haven't been able to apply with the braces on, coupled with the thin part of you lip not vibrating at all as you add pressure (this relys on your off centre point being extreme but without seeing this I can't say)

    All of this advice if given with the caveat I cannot see you nor do I really know your sound and I hope somewhere in there is some that helps you

  3. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    I agree with pretty much everything Cornyandy said,
    In answer to your question "where should I be going with this" .. to a private teacher ... that is where you SHOULD be going.
    If everything you are doing is for the purpose and is measured by you range, I think you are setting yourself up for failure. We all want more range by the way, it's just not a good idea to get obsessed or beat yourself up over the notes you don't have in your arsenal.
    If you were my student would I recommend center placement... probably.
    Airy tone can be caused by tightness from over playing.. or trying to hit high notes... and/or over doing lip slurs.
    You probably need to improve your breath support.
    Above all I would listen to yourself play .. find some nice melodies that are well within your range capabilities and make them sing .. nice full tone.
  4. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    My answer is no... do not change because of the section I isolated from your comment. Going into a series of performances is not the time to change embouchure. I am also of the theory that your mouthpiece finds the spot that is most comfortable to the anatomy created by your teeth. Your lip muscles have the ability to adjust to this.

    Don't believe what you read as there is NO evidence that placement of the mouthpiece correlates to the range you can EVENTUALLY achieve. The key here is eventually. It takes time, even playing dead center to achieve a solid decent upper range. So I recommend sticking to your guns and working with what the Good Lord and Dentist gave you. I mean, if this wasn't for the God's great design, The Lord would never have created Dentists.
  5. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    One thing you can do to help with the airy tone is long tones. Play them softly then slowly crescendo then decrescendo. Over the internet, my answer is always "NO" to an embouchure change.
  6. eviln3d

    eviln3d Pianissimo User

    Jun 5, 2013
    You should find the embouchure that works for you. Probably need to get someone to work with you in person find what works... not someone that will just tell you place the mouthpiece right here or there, but that will walk you through different ways until "you" find the one that works for you. While most people will tend to have the mouthpiece near the center it doesn't mean that it is the only way to play it. I've seen some tricks done where a guy would play two trumpets at the same time where clearly you couldn't have both trumpets centered.

    All I can wonder when I read your post is whether you are pressing really hard when you play. I know some people press the trumpet hard onto their lips. I used to do it when I first started, then realized later that it wasn't necessary and that for me it only had to have enough force that the air didn't go out the sides of the mouthpiece... So I might suggest you consider kissing the mouthpiece instead of cramming it into your lips... might be why you had so much pain with braces.
  7. jengstrom

    jengstrom Pianissimo User

    Oct 17, 2009
    Rochester, NY
    It's tempting to do whatever it takes to get through a performance, and I know you want to do well. It may be tempting to experiment with different lip positions to find something that makes the job easier. You might even succeed in the short term, but will lose in the long term.

    When I was in high school, I played in a rock band playing Chicago, BS&T, and other pop tunes of the time that used a lot of horns. I developed some really bad playing habits in the pursuit of high notes. It worked when I was 16, but by college it was already catching up to me, and I've been trying to recover for the 40+ years since.

    None of us has heard or seen you play. Find a good teacher who understands your situation, have patience, and do what he/she says. If, after 6-12 months, you aren't making the progress you want, find another one. You will eventually click with the right teacher and you will improve. Don't take shortcuts. If you do, chances are overwhelming that you will pay dearly for it in the long run.

    Cornyandy likes this.
  8. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    However, if meeting under an interstate overpass, Tobylou will answer "Yes" if you slip him a $20 dollar bill.
  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Actually long tones are a good idea... I just love to give Tobylou a little grief.
  10. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    CAREFUL: Several people recommend finding a teacher to help you... I have seen posts by damaged players that listened to a teacher that had no concept of the purpose of a good embouchure. These teachers tend to be non-trumpet players (non-brass playing band directors that are required to teach all students). The key is to find a "GOOD" teacher. One who will understand first the embouchure, then your goals, and the time dynamics involved in such a change. Muscle physiology will dictate that an embouchure change will not happen overnight.

Share This Page