Upstream or Downstream?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by hiveharbinger, Oct 19, 2008.

  1. hiveharbinger

    hiveharbinger New Friend

    Oct 19, 2008
    Hi everyone, first thread here.

    I'm in my second to last high school year, doing pretty much everything trumpet-related. I got lead in the school big-band but I gave it away in favour of 2nd; and the solos (not to mention comfort) that comes with it. I play with a downstream embouchre that gives me a fat, clean and warm sound (or so I'm told :D). Only trouble is, my embouchre really limits my upper register so much that my chops are gone after a couple CCs.

    I know that next year I won't have the luxury of taking 2nd parts, so I was wondering if it would be better to switch to an upstream embouchre in favour of the substantial range increase I get, yet sacrificing the sound quality I have currently.

    Any thoughts?
  2. screamingmorris

    screamingmorris Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 4, 2007
    A person is *born* with either an upstream or a downstream embouchure and does not just switch embouchures whenever he feels like it..

    If you were born a downstream, then trying to switch to upstream would be a HUGE mistake.

    On the other hand, if you were born an upstream but have been incorrectly trying to play downstream all these years, then going to upstream would be the best move you ever made.

    If by "CC's" you mean Double C's, two octaves above 3rd space C, then you obviously have excellent range, proving that you have been using the correct embouchure all these years, downstream (although there might be room for tweaking your embouchure).
    Any person who can play that high while still in high school has no reason to complain.
    You just need to develop greater endurance, which does not involve drastic embouchure changes.
    That greater endurance can be accomplished by:

    1. Practicing long tones and playing scales over and over in one breath while playing VERY SOFTLY to allow the embouchure aperture to remain small and tight.
    2. Getting a shallower mouthpiece or tighter throat / backbore.
    3. Getting a trumpet with smaller bore.
    4. Practicing playing songs higher, increasing step by step, week after week.

    A person is born either upstream or downstream and does not just switch embouchures whenever he feels like it.

    Bud Brisbois used to have amazing range, but he regretted that his upstream embouchure gave him a thin tone.
    Maynard Ferguson had a downstream embouchure, and it did not limit his range.
    Plenty of upstream players have lousy range, so it does not guarantee range in a matter where there are so many variables.
    So do not wish that you were upstream if you were born downstream.

    - Morris
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2008
  3. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

    Nov 16, 2005
    Vidin, Bulgaria
    Morris got a good point. The only trouble you may have, is to get the best of your downstream embouchure and you breathing...maybe also your routine. Downstream is not either good or is just you. It seems that downstream is more popular than upstream, but this is not make it any better or worse. Go back to the practice room and work closely with your teacher. If he is not able to help you, find a high range specialist and get few lessons with him.
  4. hiveharbinger

    hiveharbinger New Friend

    Oct 19, 2008
    Sorry about the clarity of my first post.

    I meant only an octave above third space C.
    And my stuff is in my sig:
    Yamaha 4335 and a Shew Lead Mp - Its a really shallow cup, thick rim, and narrow bore; everything I was told to look for in a lead mouthpiece.

    Thanks for the feedback so far, though. Its just I thought I was doing something wrong, as no pros I've seen play so... awkwardly? Except maybe the lower-part players in the GRP band.
  5. hiveharbinger

    hiveharbinger New Friend

    Oct 19, 2008
  6. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    Don't attempt to make changes to your embouchure without the guidance of a teacher. You need to find someone, a high-range specialist as t'nick put it, to help you. Messing around on your own could end up costing you some of what you already have - that fat, clean, warm sound. Doing the exercises s'morris suggested can't hurt. Keep focused on all-round development (don't forget your fingers!) and look hard for an expert to consult with concernng your upper end.
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Somebody else looking for the holy grail.

    the key to high chops is not up or downtream, it is reducing pressure on the face and increasing air pressure. You will have to sacrifice some of that "beautiful" sound to optimize the high chop experience.

    I suggest getting a daily routine to start building what you need: long tones, lip slurs in the stratosphere but at pianissimo. Don't worry if your sound is squeaky at first, get the pressure off of the upper lip. If you are doing it right, your range doesn't just stop at some note, it gets ever thinner. Getting that turned into a habit will start getting the important stuff together.
  8. dlewis

    dlewis Piano User

    Nov 22, 2006
    As always rowuk you have it right. Always enjoy your post.
  9. hiveharbinger

    hiveharbinger New Friend

    Oct 19, 2008
    Should I practice being able to keep my low range embouchure as I go into the higher range?

    Also, as soon as I use more bottom lip that I'm used to, I feel inclined to shift upwards as I play higher.

    Thanks again.
  10. Bach219

    Bach219 Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 25, 2008
    I have the same question regarding the low range embrochure.

    I do the same thing with my bottom lip. And I tend to want to bring my horn upwards too, the higher I play.

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