Transferring to a Closed Setting

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Mark_Kindy, Nov 16, 2011.

  1. Mark_Kindy

    Mark_Kindy Mezzo Forte User

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    I am currently a college student that has played with an open embouchure for quite a while now. However, I have begun experimenting with a closed setting, due to potential gains in flexibility, decreased mouthpiece pressure, and, of course, a better range. This is due to my troubles over the years with developing a quick flexibility, and problems with extending my range above high F without excessive pressure or ridiculous horn pivot.

    I will note that for the early stages (it has been a couple days since I've begun) my flexibility has increased with the help of lip compression, I have more dynamic/tonal control, and mouthpiece pressure no longer does much for me (helps me resist the urge to use it, haha). I still have facility of my open setting, as well, but my tone on the closed setting seems very similar, so there seems to be not much need...however...

    I know it may be early to be concerned, but I have noticed that it is very difficult for me to articulate above a top line F with this setting, and in fact my usable range has decreased considerably (although I realize that it may be due to new muscle involvement). Also, I'll on occasion get a crackling response from my horn when I attempt to play in the range of 4th line D to that F at a soft dynamic -- I'm required to use much air in order to get a pure tone. However, this increase in air usage also seems to aid in attaining the higher notes (which seems contradictory --- shouldn't a smaller aperture facilitate high range?)

    I was just wondering if anyone had any ideas as to what I could improve in continuing my transference to this new setting. I have been doing my best to follow Pops' advice that I can find on the forums, but I feel I need feedback that is more specific to my situation. Thanks!
     
  2. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

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    Embouchure changes are not to be taken lightly at all. Without the presence of a teacher physically, you're shootin' craps over a forum. I know a guy who did something similar at the profs insistence and it screwed him up and he eventually quit. If you are experimenting, you should expect problems due to muscle memory. Only practice and time will tell if you've made the right move. Also, I get your point about excessive pressure but horn pivot is not necessarily a bad thing. I know plenty of guys that employ that method successfully. As far as feedback goes, that's why you need a teacher, not just a forum. Hope it works for you.
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I wonder where all this aperature stuff comes from? I wonder how players measure it while playing? I wonder why those players that feel that they have a "too open" embouchure just don't invest in some decent lipslurs like out of the Irons book? The evolution can solve the real issues instead of revolution mucking it up. I wonder why these uninformed players always seem to read about aperature but never about the dangers of messing with embouchure.

    If we build our playing from the bottom up - first solid breathing, then flexible low and mid register then expand the registers up and down by practicing what is good for the chops, we don't get any of these "problems". Only when we try to force more than we have earned do things get messed up.

    I think a little knowledge leads to stupid decisions. The internet is full of half truths.
     
  4. Mark_Kindy

    Mark_Kindy Mezzo Forte User

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    Thanks to both of you for your replies, your experience is appreciated.

    Tobylou -- About the horn pivot, I don't mean that using it is bad, but that I was using it to an extreme for my upper register. However, thanks for the words of caution. I'm making sure to maintain my open setting as well, and the experimentation doesn't seem to have hurt it.

    Rowuk -- I noticed the aperture difference because in my original setup I spread my lips apart before they were secured in the mouthpiece (on purpose). At the time, I was only trying to spread my teeth, but it ended up opening my aperture apart so that my lips would not touch without the pressure of a mouthpiece (which is not necessarily bad of course. I was doing ok with it, and my tone was fine). The main issues that got me to worry about this was the fact that I could not play softer dynamics with the precision I desired, and in the high range my lips would wear out quickly or get blown apart without a small enough aperture, as well as lip slur issues when attempting lip slurs from the mid to higher ranges. I was at the step you referred to above as "expand[ing] the registers up and down", and had been for quite some time, by trying to use air and not forcing. However, the air didn't seem to be focused enough for any of the issues to be solved (I have been working on lip slurs and soft dynamics for the better part of 2 years now, in addition). So really, this is an experimentation and not necessarily a replacement, but I do understand your skepticism.


    Addition: In my previous post, I referred to a need for more air with the closed setting in order to attain range and tone. What I meant was I'm required to play at a louder dynamic in order to do these things (thereby enlarging the aperture).
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2011
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  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Are you aware that our bodies do not "switch". The result of "messing around" is a mix of old and new - which can be worse than either state individually. Most of the time there is no going back. I will never feel the same again.

    I think your chances of this working are not very good. Good luck.
     
  6. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

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    Listen to the experience here, which is much greater than mine.

    One of my teachers is professional with the symphony. He has an open set. He can play anything very low to extreamly high with great beauty and flexibility. It is not whether you have an open or closed set. There must something more basic that is not being coordinated properly and the right exercises will indeed help you evolve correctly over time. He would say there are no big problems in trumpet, only a failure to apply basics or coordinate them properly.

    I have been through it and know first hand radical changes are no quick fix and can even be detrimental.

    BrotherBACH
     
  7. PatMurphy

    PatMurphy Pianissimo User

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    Thank you for making me feel good about my progress. I have a good full sound and control from the lowest note below Low C? (whatever it is-I cannot read) up to the c above the staff. (High C?) I can bend notes, play whisper soft or blister paint when needed all the way up and down. I have all I can do maintaing this level of commpetance with the practice time I have working a 40-50 hour week and having a real llife.
    I am never going to be a Vizzutti and have no desire to work that hard. I love to hear my horn singing and the sound of the folks enjoy it. Your last statement validated my positioin. So many of the questions and proposals scare me. To think I could lose all this enjoyment, messing with "lead" mpcs, changing embouchure. I fact a few weeks ago you convinced me to remove the shallow "lead" mpc from my case. My Monette B-2 is just fine for all I can handle. Thanks again for the "voice of reason"
     
  8. Mark_Kindy

    Mark_Kindy Mezzo Forte User

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    I believe it is best to listen to these voices of reason, and simply work on strengthening my fundamentals even more (and return to my open set). I can see that I have been simply being impatient, and I'd rather not reverse all the progress that I HAVE made by focusing on what has NOT YET improved. Thank you all for input, especially the tough love (we all need it at some point)
     
  9. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson Pianissimo User

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    By "high F" I assume you mean the one on top of the staff, and not the one above high C?

    How much do you/have you practiced? (I mean, have you been practicing 6 hours a day for years and not gotten anywhere, or did you just start practicing a lot recently?)

    What does your teacher have to say about this experimenting?

    With your normal open embouchure, can you squeak high notes? Or does it just turn to air or become too uncomfortable due to pressure above high C?

    Can you describe exactly what you're doing with this closed setting? I'm not very familiar with Pops' approach. How are you setting your embouchure/what motions are you using (pucker/kiss? roll-in? lower lip pout? vertical lip-to-lip compression)? What direction do the corners of your mouth tend towards: in towards the mouthpiece or outwards away from the mouthpiece?


    With this new setting your lips are resisting the air more, so more air pressure is required. This is normal/good. It's not necessarily that you're required to play louder, it's that you're required to blow harder. Don't worry about whether your aperture is being enlarged.

    If you're getting a sort of "stuffy" feeling it means you're on the right track. It takes more air to get the lips to vibrate than you're used to, so it may feel weird or bad at first, but your core muscles will get stronger and your lips will gradually take on the ability to vibrate more freely than they could before when they were being pinned down by mouthpiece pressure. This is also the reason you're having trouble with articulation especially on high notes (and probably very low notes).

    I have to say I'm pretty skeptical of the vertical lip-to-lip compression thing with regards to how it will affect your sound in the long run. I don't imagine it's very conducive to a good orchestral sound. I think a pucker type of embouchure would be better because it creates a deeper channel of vibrating lip tissue and allows that channel to vibrate much more freely. I could be wrong.



    I have been through it too, and after some 12 years of spinning my wheels a radical change was the only thing that did the trick. You're right, though, it wasn't a quick fix - it took almost 3 years to get back to where I was. It should certainly be an absolute last resort.
     
  10. Mark_Kindy

    Mark_Kindy Mezzo Forte User

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    No, in the beginning of that post I was referring to the F three ledger lines and a space above (with my open set) but I had seemed to reach a wall. I wasn't squeaking them, but rather it was either very loud or the note was missed (hit a lower one)

    I had begun practicing a lot more in the past couple years, but I have had 5 hours or so a day in of playing, or around that, for four years now.

    I have been working with lip compression (in regards to the closed set). I naturally bring the corners in for both embouchures, and I have had some success with a small amount of lip curl for both as well.

    I'm naturally a curious person, so I wanted to look into other possibilities (for instance, the pucker intrigues me, but I play all styles so I'm not sure if that would be necessary).

    Today I had more success with range and articulation. Tone has improved, as well, although there still is the feeling of stuffiness. And you are correct about lower notes as well --- having some problem getting articulation/volume with them.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2011

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