Side of my mouth or center

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Scottyent, Apr 28, 2013.

  1. Scottyent

    Scottyent New Friend

    Feb 28, 2013
    Hey all, I posted a thread a few weeks back about being a "comeback" player and making the changes with my embouchure. Now that I have my horn and I am able to mess around, I have some questions about how I should go forward.

    BRIEF background: I played from 3rd grade up till college playing almost entirely out of the side of my mouth (almost touching the end of my mouth). I started college as a music major, where the teacher changed me to dead center embouchure. After a year of solid practicing, I still could not reach anything really above a G just above the staff. I quit being a music major, and didn't play all that much for some years.

    So, I have been practicing diligently on my mouthpiece for the last 4 months, and now with my horn for the last few weeks, at my center mouthpiece embouchure. It has been about 2-3 years since I played a lot on it. However, after I would say 4 months of almost everyday practicing, I STILL cannot get above a G just above the staff. I have a difficulty even getting that at all. From middle c and down, I sound great, fat sound, solid tone, exactly how I want to sound.

    For fun, today I tried my extremely sideways embouchure from 6 years ago, and I was able to reach a High C. I felt pain in my upper lip (I'm sure because of the fact that my upper teeth stick out a bit on that side), and I have no endurance there (I mean I haven't played on it in 6 years), but I am now wondering how to go forward.

    I am meeting with my old trumpet teacher tomorrow, and his method was always....if you are doing this for fun, keep it on the side and have fun playing wherever. If you are doing this professionally, change it. I talked to him on the phone recently, and it seems now that I am no longer a trumpet major and am just looking to play trumpet again, he again says screw it...go back to the side.

    I'm just worried that this isn't a good option. I think my top lip will end up giving me problems, and my endurance and control was never great, just good. I feel with a center embouchure, maybe endurance and control would be improved, as well as giving me a "thicker" sound (and I had hoped, a better more developed range).

    I am trying to look at this from a rest of my life perspective. I want to pick the option that will give me the best results, and not necessarily the one that is "Easy." I have tried this center embouchure for a total of 1.5 years of solid everyday practice, and have not reached above the G above the staff (and weakly at that). I am beginning to think that that embouchure is just wrong for me, but I am worried that if I go back to almost completely out of the side of my mouth, I will have lip pain, and other limitations that will be a problem.

    It's so frustrating, and I am tired of trying something that seems to not be working. From what I read on here, it can take years for people to get back to where they were, but I feel like my overall development with range in the middle has been basically non existant. When I started, I could get up to middle C ok, and so what....over all this time, I have added three or four notes going up?

    Sigh, I'm just at a loss. I want to focus my energy, I am ready to put the time in day in and day out. I love doing it. But I am just unsure if I am putting my energy in the right thing, because if I end up just hitting a wall like never playing above that G, what's the point?

    I just don't want to go back to the side because it's easy, because it not be the best embouchure for me. Sure from 10 years of playing, the muscles are probably still there, but should I just spend years trying to add that embouchure to the middle? I have been trying, I just don't see results :(
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
  2. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    the video is a little grainy --- and I won't really offer much of an opinion at this time (seeing is how I switched from the side to the center in my senior year -- and I like the mpc in the center better)--------------but back to my point (and I am a comebacker also)

    the guy in this clip (some guy called Maynard ferguson, whoever he is) --- but if you notice -- he plays off to the side!!!!
    Maynard Ferguson Body and Soul - YouTube
  3. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    If you have been working this hard and seeing little progress, your anatomy is telling you center on is not your set. I think there is nothing wrong with going on what feels natural to you. You cannot change the anatomy of your mouth without dental surgery. If your teeth need work, perhaps now is the time, if not, play naturally, because as it sounds to me, currently, straingt on is NOT natural for you.
  4. Jerry Freedman

    Jerry Freedman Piano User

    Mar 4, 2005
    Botti, who has a gorgeous sound and control all through his range plays off to the side. At the back of Encyclopedia of the Pivot System, Reinhardt discusses this too. Bottom line, what ever works for you is correct
  5. trumpflugel

    trumpflugel New Friend

    May 2, 2007
    I would purchase a P.E.T.E. Its a personal embouchure training device. It strengthens the muscles in your chops. By putting it center, both sides of your mouth muscles strength will become equal. They can be purchased from WWBW, Austin Custom Brass, and other music store outlets. BTW, I feel the music teacher's advice is poor. If you are paying for the lessons, the teacher should help you to correct the problem.
  6. Scottyent

    Scottyent New Friend

    Feb 28, 2013

    This is why I feel so frustrated and stuck. After reading the first three posts I was starting to think, hey maybe I will throw my center embouchure out the window and play out the side. Then Trumpflugel chimes in, and suggest that I continue to fix the center embouchure...

    The only reason why I am giving in this much thought is because it is so extremeeeee. I have seen trumpet players play to the side (like mentioned above), but when I have my mouthpiece set the way I normally play, there is probably a few millimeters before the end corner of my mouth. So when I go to feel just how close it is, it basically feels as if the mouthpiece is running off my mouth.

    I think what I will attempt to do at this point is play on the side, and see how it feels after a week or so. If I get the pain, and my control and range don't come back too much, then perhaps I will continue trying to adjust.

    I could stand to have some work done on my teeth. I used to have braces, but they have moved quite a bit since then, and i do have some teeth that are sticking out more than others that could cause a problem. Well, I guess it couldn't hurt to make an orthodontist appointment...
  7. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    I know your frustration -- from 5th grade until my senior year in high school, I was but a mediocre trumpet player --and I played way off to the left (crooked teeth, muscles, whatever reason, doesn't matter) --- I sat out my senior year, because I wanted MORE from the trumpet --- and I concluded for me, the best vibratory portion on my lips was center. I still have crooked teeth, that didn't change!!!! DUDE, it was a frustrating year basically reforming an embouchure to the center -- VERY FRUSTRATING, but the following year, my range and my playing was WAY BETTER than before "when it was off to the side" ---- and I have quit a few times for various reasons throughout the decades (now at 48, and a comebacker for 4+ years now) ------ I still play in the center, and FOR ME IT WAS ALWAYS THE BEST THING TO MOVE THE EMBOUCHURE TO THE CENTER --- and TO KEEP IT THERE, (yeah, don't be switching back and forth -- stick with one or the other --- AND MAKE IT WORK) -- but YEAH, now at 48 ---- I am the best that I have ever been as a trumpet player --- the EMBOUCHURE IS NEARLY CENTERED, and I have some HIGH RANGE and endurance to go with that!!!!!! --------- there, NOW you have my opinion, but I had to wait!!! -- I had to wait until you got several opinions to see that you are frustrated, and frustration often leads to CHOICES!! --- stick with one, or Change, well you could QUIT!!! -- but only YOU WILL KNOW, BECAUSE IT IS YOUR DECISION!!!!
  8. Scottyent

    Scottyent New Friend

    Feb 28, 2013
    thank you for the feedback! It is always encouraging to hear somebody went through this before and ended up in a better place. In your first year, you said it was really frustrating, and was your range really poor during that time as well? I think I could certainly give some more time to the middle of my mouth, I am just worried that it will all be for nothing if it turns out to be an anatomical limitation. If I had to intellectually decide center or right....I would choose center because that is where most people play, I have more meat there, and I would feel more comfortable playing somewhere close to what most people do.

    I don't mind being DIFFERENT from other players, I'm just concerned that I am TOO far different in how far out I play. We can all point out off center players, but its slight, not all the way over. I feel like in the middle I will have more balanced structure, more muscle development balancing on both sides, and more stability in the future.

    There's still just the worry of whether or not that will actually work out for me. I can throw another year at it, but if at the end of that time I'm not developing and getting some decent range...well, disappointed would be putting it lightly ;)
  9. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    lets see -- it's 30 years ago but basically --- my high range (reproducible high range was like the G on top of the staff, and A above that) on the side ------ switching the embouchure over the summer --I was not ready to play in high school --- range sucked after 2 months (like a D on the fourth line) ---- airy tone, I mean realistically I was building an embouchure all over again (and I won't lie, it sucked) -- so I sat out senior year, and that sucked ------- the following year, I was up to a solid high C and D area of reproducible sound. So YES, it took me a year to end up 3 or 4 notes higher in range, and a better player ------- bottom line, YOU CAN NOT DO THE CHANGE IN 2 WEEKS -- YOU JUST CANT!!!!! ----- a few years later, I played trumpet in church for nearly a decade (till 30 ish) -- then I quit!!!! ---- for a decade, now I am back -----------------so these past 4+ years, I am at a SOLID HIGH G - like 4 ledgers above the staff G (reproducible everyday) --- and can play weaker, but yeah can play the few notes higher than that!! A, B, DHC (double high C) which is 2 octaves above the 3rd space C in the staff ------------------- TO ME, a year of frustration, so many years ago enabled me to move higher and better ((now, I just wished I had never quit for a decade in there, but I did, but I still am so glad that I switched from the side to the center)) ---- for me, it was the best decision I ever made -- and I stuck with it also, to see it through!!!!
  10. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    Usually, just playing a mouthpiece alone indicates where placement is most comfortable. I'm not adamant about center, but hopefully such will be centered somewhere in the center third of your lip width. I too recommend the use of P.E.T.E., and stress that such be throughout the lip from corner to corner. Using P.E.T.E. is not easy and I hear and see too much misuse of it. It functions best in a resistance mode where you use your lips to resist the pull or the weight. You do not want to just stick the disk end and forcefully pluck it out immediately as I see some do and I think to myself that such is only bruising the lips.

    Yes, I left your own answer as may be your major problem ... one I fought long with also and is not any more whereas I've now dentures which do present their own problem (to keep well secured).

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