Trumpet Discussion Discuss Playing off to the side in the General forums; Hi Manny,
My daughter (Elise) was playing way off to one side so I suggested trying to center the mouthpiece ...
Playing off to the side
My daughter (Elise) was playing way off to one side so I suggested trying to center the mouthpiece on her lips. She did but now is drifting to the other side. She is complaining to me that she feels that there is not one real spot to put the mouthpiece and she can't build up any endurance.
She has been playing for six years and is a sophomore in high school.
She plays second part mostly in the school band. We were playing together today and she had a part where she had to come in on an E in the staff. (the high one) and she would crack every time. We worked on this for a while and I think she was over shooting and going too high.
She can play a one octave C scale from low C to middle or from middle C to high C but not a two octave scale. She has to stop and reposition.
I hope this is enough information to help her.
Buy, beg, borrow, rend the DVD "Bach for Brass" featuring the German Brass. Watch carefully. Stop worrying. It's probably just a function of her dental structure.
Toots suggestion is a great one. I may also suggest that your daughter place her mouthpiece on the tip of her nose and then let it slide down to her chops, tracing the nose and the skin below, until it settles on a place that feels 'natural'. Tell her just to have fun with it and experiment a bit playing tunes she knows, etc. to see how things feel. I have had great success with that trick when students are having embouchure issues.
It also sounds to me that she is not using her corners and that her aperture is so large, vibration is taking place over a wide space. This will cause the mouthpiece to float to wherever air is being expelled. She needs to have a more focused airstream to fix this problem, IMO.
I am sure Manny will add his wisdom when he returns.
Mezzo Forte User
a suggestion that worked for me with a slightly different problem (up down placement) and it did work with a student that had this problem have her imagine moving the mouthpiece over 1mm everyday until it is reasonably close to center. it doesnt have to be perfectly centered. alex also has a great suggestion.
How is her BASIC sound? Does it change a lot from octave to octave? Can she sing notes back to you? Do you notice much tightness when she plays? You have a beautiful sound, does she respond to trying to quantify and imitate your sound?
A lot of questions, i know... i just want an idea of how she relates to making a sound. Take your time answering.
Sometimes her sound is nice and sometimes it's pinched. I have been working with her to play simple songs musically. She tends to rush through things. I don't think she is warming up properly.
Originally Posted by Manny Laureano
Yes her sound changes from octave to octave. I won't see her until Tuesday and I will have her play with this in mind.
She has a very good ear and can sing anything I play. We do a game where she turns her back and I will play notes on the piano and then she has to play them back. She almost always gets it.
I do notice tightness when she plays. When I ask her she says there is none.
Thank you! When we sit and work on slowing down and working on sound it gets better. For me to imitate her sound when she is not thinking about it I have to close down hard with my lips.
On Tuesday afternoon I will sit with her and we will play and answer each question again.
Let's have a bit of fun and see if we can't help her some.
When you see her, have ready a kleenex that you can hold away from her about 3 or 4 feet. Have her sustain a nice flowing breath of air so that she blows at the kleenex. When she can do that, have her play a low C on the horn and ask her to imitate the same flowing, relaxed blow. Have her do the same on various notes. Warm, flowing air sustains the kleenex and her sound. Cold, thin air won't work as well in this context. Get her to realize that she can blow gently and get a huge sound without hardly trying. You'll have to go back and forth between the kleenex and the musical note a few times.
We have a conflict now.
Originally Posted by Manny Laureano
I think the experiment was a success and Elise thinks her tone is airy now.
I had her play some simple scales and then some simple tunes from Arbans. Her tone was, I thought good and not pinched.
Elise said she got dizzy.
She is on vacation from school and I have to go back to work.
Let me know what is the next step.
Teach her to buzz. Let the corners lie tense over the canine teeth, form the lips into a stubborn "b" or "m" and blow until a buzz comes and then "capture" that buzz with the mouthpiece so as to find the "right" position. Make sound primary, not secondary to the right tone, rhythm, etc. Now the hard part; find tunes that she can play (transpose if needed) and push them to the point some technique is needed. The reason to practice long tones and lip-slurs and such is to play the pieces we want to as opposed to learning them for learning's sake (even though learning them for learning's sake allows us to play what we want to). Tough job. When all else fails, use love. Start with love, too.
"A tool good enough to be so used and not too good"
C.S. Lewis That Hideous Strength
All sounds good so far. Don't worry just yet about her concerns about the tone as you are listening from without and she's listening from within. Your point of view is more valid for right now.
She's dizzy because she's blowing without the resistance of the horn repeatedly and experiencing a bit of oxygen debt. Whenever you do this with her do no more than 3 times and give her a little break of normal nasal breathing.
As VB says, it's time for some tunes, I wouldn't worry too much about corrective embouchure just yet especially if you say the sound is good. Let her awareness evolve more gradually. Keep listening to her and see that her consistency grows.
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