Teacher Diagnosis

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by john7401, Jun 18, 2010.

  1. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    Here is where I stand. I recently had a lesson with my instructor who I trust and who has plenty of teaching and trumpet expirience. During this lesson I was not able to hit the assigned B flat above the staff (we try to add a 1/2 step every week). After playing something else that my range struggled with a bit he said he noticed I play 2/3 top lip 1/3 bottom lip. He said he never noticed it before and that it was more of a french horn embouchure. After watching me play some more he had me try buzzing moving the mouthpiece slightly. I got it to buzz just fine with a bit more difficulty and possibly some slight range limitations than what I had before. He said by going from 2/3 top and 1/3 bottom to 1/3 top and 2/3 bottom more pressure would be put on my bottom lip as opposed to my top lip and should help with range/endurance. He seemed very indecisive and said he wasn't sure if he wanted me to be moving things around since I had such a clear tone. We have been working on range/endurance issues for a while and he definitely didn't jump into the decision to make this change. (I'm suprised he actually suggested the change.) However he seemed to lean more on the side of doing it by the end of the session.

    He said he wanted me to try to start moving the mouthpiece a little higher slowly over time. He said when I go on my vacation for about a week and 1/2 it would be a good time to work on this with just the mouthpiece buzzing. My next lesson with him is in 3 weeks because of vacation and marching band.

    What do you think? I know I have to commit to it if I'm going to do it and trust it to work. I'm just a little worried now because of my teachers indecisiveness and the fact that I've read plenty on this website about how messing with the embouchure and moving things could have a dramatically bad effect on playing. Also because plenty of pros play the same way I do now.

    The range and endurance is definitely a huge problem though and doesn't seem to be getting much better atm. I'd like to hear what your thoughts are.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2010
  2. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    Try what your teacher is telling you and see if you progress. Remember, it takes a great deal of time to make a change so don't think it will change in just a few weeks or even a few months. No one here can help you we can not see you play or hear you. Some folks here will try, but they really don't know.
  3. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    I have the same chops problem as you -somewhat related to teeth, bite, etc. I'm 2/3 on top and 1/3 on bottom, but have a terrible range. I would suggest you give the change a try. Stick with it for several months, at least-and give it your all. If it doesn't work out, you can always go back to the old way, but you may find a tremendous improvement.

    Unfortunately after a number of top trumpet instructors have tried to reset my embassure, it never worked. I've been playing for 45 years. Believe me, I'd gladly hand over a grand to anyone that could help me make a change that actually resulted in a major range increase (4-5 whole notes). My problems haven't resulted from lack of effort, practice, or drive. I've about concluded that I'm doing the best with what God has provided me.

    Still, give it a try. Let us know how it turns out.
  4. a marching trumpet

    a marching trumpet Mezzo Piano User

    Feb 11, 2009
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Truth, I tried it, and wailed and it worked for me, and I have the same deal, but my teacher worked on tongue level with me and such to where it was no longer a big deal for me 2 use my 2/3 top 1/3 bottom. One of my fellow players takes from a guy named steve patrick (really good player and such etc etc etc) and I think (dont quote me on it) told him he is wanting my friend to change to 2/3 1/3 I think, ill explain later when im not about 2 fall out of my chair asleep, basically cause 2/3 1/3 gives you more flexibility
  5. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    I don't think changing mouthpiece placement is going to help you, actually I think it will do more harm than good.Find a teacher that really understands how embouchure's work, I'm not talking about only mouthpiece placement but also how to use your lips,jaw,tongue,and air. I struggled with range for a long time until I figured out what I was doing wrong.I only had to change one thing and gained more than an octave ,and I play at least 2/3 upper lip if not more.
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I would listen to your teacher. I also believe in evolution (slow change) rather than revolution.

    I would not listen to the kiddies posting here. Even if they are telling the truth (something that can't be taken for granted), they for sure do not understand how individual this really is. Success is measured in months and years so statements like: "Truth, I tried it, and wailed and it worked for me" have no base in fact. It would require at least weeks to retrain the muscles for the new geometry. Why lies like this are posted I will never know! Even worse are unfounded claims like: basically cause 2/3 1/3 gives you more flexibility. This is an even bigger lie. Top players have successful embouchures all over the place.

    It is NOT a formula 1/3 - 2/3 by the way. It is as your teacher said getting the pressure off of the top lip. That is also possible in your case by pointing the trumpet down a bit but keeping your head up. Please keep your expectation in line with reality. If you are using pressure now, removing it quickly will DESTROY your range until the new habits are built (months or longer). Move slowly to minimize the losses and keep your joy of playing up and never forget, we convince our audiences with the results in front of the bell, not our unseen standardized embouchures. Al Innella makes a very good case for being careful!
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  7. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Hi John,
    You have to remember, this is a blog site and all that it entails. With that said, I'd listen to your teacher. His indecisiveness (IMO) is based on HOW to get you to move where you place the trumpet on your face. That's a pretty big deal. I play 1/3 top 2/3 bottom.
    I like your "trust but verify" approach about this important change.
    Here's what to do:
    Get on YouTube and look up
    Freddie Hubbard
    Maynard Ferguson
    Dizzy Gillespie
    Clark Terry
    Doc Severensen
    Raphael Mendez
    Alison Balsom
    and anybody else you can think of.
    Watch how they place the horn to the face. Your teacher is right, your present placement is more akin to french horn than trumpet.
    Just hang in there and be sure not to use a lot of mouthpiece pressure when you play in the upper register. You might want to read Mouthpiece Pressure Assessment.
    Also, if you find yourself "eating" the mouthpiece to play, there's an easy way to get around that. Here's what you do:
    Imagine your lips as a "meat pillow". When you place the mouthpiece on your lips, you don't want to smash, crush or flatten the pillow. Just set the horn on the face.
    You'll find that in a short time your muscles around the corners of the mouth might ache. This is a good thing and OK!! These are the muscles that help tighten and loosen the lips (verses) using your arms to push the mouthpiece to change the notes.
    If you find yourself in the middlew of playing something and you're using a lot of pressure, STOP PLAYING. Blow your lips like a horse to loosen them up, take a drink of whatever you happen to have and reset the mouthpiece on the lips.
    Good Luck!
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2010
  8. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008

    That's the truth.

    Play/practice more every day.

    Trying to add 1/2 step to your range every week is crazy and unrealistic in my opinion. If that was possible we'd all be playing triple C's.

    You're not going to wake up one day and be able to wail notes that you've never played before. Whispers will get stronger over time.

    Play/practice more every day.
  9. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    Thanks for the posts. I'll make it happen.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2010
  10. trpt2345

    trpt2345 Mezzo Forte User

    May 21, 2006
    Morelia, Mexico
    In the end I've always found air flow is way more important than intricacies of embouchure placement. If you're moving the air freely and without tension there are a variety of embouchure placements that can work. If you're not moving the air, it doesn't matter what your embouchure is. For me a 50-50 placement works best, but as I said there are a variety of them which can work.

Share This Page