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Embouchure question


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peteb
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let me elaborate further. If the mouthpiece is completely on the red (as I understand is the OP's situation), and unless the player has very thick, fleshy lips, when pressure is applied the lip is essentially smashed against the teeth - causing the damage. I am not arguing that we are all different, but as NikV mentioned, we are not all that different. Upstream, downstream, overbite, underbite doesn't matter really. The fact that MrCT is on here complaining about a playing problem, and given the description of his embouchure (as I am understanding it), the mouthpiece placement is at least partially to blame. If he were playing like this and not complaining I would have nothing to say, but here we are.
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Pete.

Quote:
If the mouthpiece is completely on the red (as I understand is the OP's situation), and unless the player has very thick, fleshy lips, when pressure is applied the lip is essentially smashed against the teeth - causing the damage.


I would quibble with the details of your example, but I think we're finding common ground. You and I both agree that it's the player's anatomy that dictates the best placement for the individual.

One disagreement has to do with your example of smashing the lips between the rim and teeth/gums. There will always be rim pressure against the lips, regardless of where it is placed. We probably both agree that holding your lips with correct embouchure form will allow the lips to accept the appropriate amount of mouthpiece pressure. Since the same muscle group is present both under the vermillion and around it, there's not any reason I can think of why the upper lip wouldn't be able to take an appropriate amount of mouthpiece pressure.

Keeping a little more weight on the lower lip seems to be good advice for all players, regardless of placement.

Now if you personally find you smash your upper lip if you try to play with a low placement upstream embouchure, then it's probably because it's the wrong embouchure type for your anatomy.

Quote:
The fact that MrCT is on here complaining about a playing problem, and given the description of his embouchure (as I am understanding it), the mouthpiece placement is at least partially to blame. If he were playing like this and not complaining I would have nothing to say, but here we are.


As we've both noted a couple of times earlier, we haven't watched the OP play, so we're only speculating. I don't think it's necessarily correct to suggest that the placement must be wrong if things aren't working correctly yet. There are many things that cause problems unrelated to mouthpiece placement.

In my experience, most players who end up with a low placement on their own do so because that's where it happens to work best for them. This can change over time, particularly for younger players who are still growing or who have orthodontic work being done. Sometimes the best mouthpiece placement won't become apparent until after the player has developed the strength and control to hold the lips with better embouchure form. Simply moving the placement away from where it's working at that time probably isn't going to help correct the embouchure form issues, even if it happens to be the eventual correct one, so I feel it's better to work with the student's current placement and give priority to embouchure form first.

The only real disagreement we seem to be having is whether it's best to advise a player to change his mouthpiece placement without seeing him first, even if his current setup is uncommon. In my opinion, it's better to go into any correction informed of the embouchure variations that can be found to work correctly, just in case the OP's chops happen to be one of the rarer ones.

I think your skepticism about these ideas is the right attitude, but I hope you'll try to look around at some of the brass players around you. You might be surprised at how many upstream players you can find, and some may even have extremely low placements.


Dave
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brasstraders
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have a chance to try a Kelly clear mouthpieces, I'd highly recommend it. Often what you think is happening inside the cup isn't necessary what is happening. A clear mouthpiece will help make certain and may in fact reveal some other problem. I'd be hesitant about taking any advice until you are certain what is happening inside.
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Last edited by brasstraders on Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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abontrumpet
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OP, please listen to what peteb has to say. Like he said, the description of your playing problem is in line with what the common ailments of playing in the red come with.
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Skip to 5:35 of this video. This particular low placement trumpet player, who places right on the red, clearly isn't having any "ailments" because of his extremely low placement.


Link


Again, please let me make sure I'm being clear. This placement isn't the correct one for everyone, not even most players. It just happens to fit some players best.


Dave
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

peteb wrote:
While there may be musculature under the red, it is so weak (weaker than the fascial muscles in general) that it provides no support.


I feel as if you're moving the goalpost again. Your original source, Campos, stated that there was only fatty tissue under the vermillion. Later you agree there's muscular support, but it's weak.

I'm willing to come around to your point of view, but I think perhaps a medical resource is more reliable than a musical one. How do you know that the orbicularis oris is weaker under the vermillion, even though the major difference there is the epidermal layer, not the muscle underneath?


Dave
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peteb
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wilktone wrote:
Skip to 5:35 of this video. This particular low placement trumpet player, who places right on the red, clearly isn't having any "ailments" because of his extremely low placement.
Dave


This player does not demonstrate the condition I am talking about, nor the condition I believe the OP is seeking counsel on. Let me be clear. I am not on here to show how much knowledge I have about the embouchure, to share research or plug anybody's book. I am simply trying to share what I do know in an effort to help a fellow trumpet player. I find it highly irresponsible, and wrong, to not let Mr. Classical Trumpet know and understand the danger of the condition he is describing. I think we do him a great disservice by saying it is probably something else and he shouldn't worry about changing things. Something needs to change, and he needs to find a qualified teacher to help him make those changes. End of story.
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Pete.

peteb wrote:
This player does not demonstrate the condition I am talking about, nor the condition I believe the OP is seeking counsel on.


Sorry, I probably should have quoted abontrumpet's post so that you understood that was a response to his message. However, it does show a fine trumpet player with the characteristic of placing the mouthpiece so the rim is placed directly on the upper lip. And this is the exact characteristic you've been advising against.

Quote:
I am simply trying to share what I do know in an effort to help a fellow trumpet player.


I'm sorry if you felt I was questioning your motives. I just want to discuss your suggestions and get you to reconsider them as a blanket recommendation for all players.

Quote:
I find it highly irresponsible, and wrong, to not let Mr. Classical Trumpet know and understand the danger of the condition he is describing.


This is going to come across as more confrontational than I want, but I don't know any other way other than to come out and say this.

Danger? How so? I don't think you've offered a plausible reason why it's not allowable for some players to place the mouthpiece on the red, if that's where it happens to work best. There's no anatomical reason why not, and I've offered several examples that show that it is not only possible, but can work quite well when it's correct for the player's anatomy.

I can also show you an example of a player who followed similar advice to what you're suggesting, and it ended up in a breakdown for him. Skip ahead to 4:50.


Link


This doesn't prove that his problems were caused by his change in mouthpiece placement, however it does suggest that it was related to his issues. Last I had heard, that player had given up trumpet.

Quote:
Something needs to change, and he needs to find a qualified teacher to help him make those changes. End of story.


We both agree that a good teacher is the best option for the OP. However, it won't hurt him to go into a lesson with the knowledge that placing on the red of the upper lip works best for some players (albeit a minority), especially since so many teachers share your beliefs here.

Please don't take my word for this. As a graduate student, you are well placed with access to an academic library and professional researchers who can help you investigate this further, even informally. Take some time a look around at the brass players around you and think about it. You might find a better understanding of embouchure form and function can be a powerful teaching tool, or at least you'll discover how not to teach.


Best,

Dave
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NikV
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wilktone wrote:
Skip to 5:35 of this video. This particular low placement trumpet player, who places right on the red, clearly isn't having any "ailments" because of his extremely low placement.

Again, please let me make sure I'm being clear. This placement isn't the correct one for everyone, not even most players. It just happens to fit some players best.


Dave


I'd like to join back in on this discussion.
Wilktone, thank you so much for your dedicated and very in-depth research. This is very interesting to hear from you about the idea of upstream playing, etc. Unfortunately, what you are describing, and what is present in all these videos is NOT the condition the OP is talking about. Though I cannot see the OP's playing, because I played in a such a similar way for so long, I can see how close his description is to my own of my previous issues.

Here's the deal. You are right in that some people play with the mouthpiece down lower (clearly ), but no one (or very few people) plays with a physical cutoff of vibration of the top lip like that. Now, that aside, what REALLY makes me think he needs to go back to a 50/50-esque placement of playing, is that that is what he did before he had braces, and he specifically mentions that he still plays with an overbite and downstream air. Why is he having trouble with range when he tries to go back to his old placement? Because the lips have become accustomed to working less because he had braces on, which changed the amount of air, pressure, etc. he needed to get different notes.

I have a very close friend who went through what you're going through, but did not make the mistake of switching to a cut-off sliver embouchure like I did. He is lucky and was born with a natural trumpet setup. He played his first double C's in 8th grade (not that that's a good definition of skill, but it's something the OP mentioned), but unfortunately got braces the next school year. Things were pretty wonky for him for the couple years with braces, but he played well. When he got his braces off, he lost a significant portion of his range and it took him a few months to get his pre-braces ability back.

I can soundly say I believe if he persists in original setup he will have more than his pre-braces abilities back in a few months.

I cannot tell you what to do, though. Only advise you through what I know. Perhaps I am pushing for one thing, another poster is posting for another thing, it doesn't matter. Do what YOU feel is right. If you want better opinions, email classical professionals with pictures of your embouchures with mouthpiece on them, I'm sure many would be happy to give a little advice.

Enjoy this thread, there is a lot of good information everywhere.

NV
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, NikV.

Quote:
Unfortunately, what you are describing, and what is present in all these videos is NOT the condition the OP is talking about... and he specifically mentions that he still plays with an overbite and downstream air.


I thought about addressing this in my very first post, but I thought it might make for a little more confusion. In retrospect, perhaps this would have helped me make my points a little clearer.

Here's Mr. Classical Trumpet's description.

Mr. Classical Trumpet wrote:
I am an over bite downstream player. I then got braces for two years and after my bottom lip is all the way in the mouthpiece and my top lip is out of the mouthpiece except for a little tissue of the lip inside. I still am over bite and downstream.


Although it's common to mistake the jaw position for the air stream direction, it's the ratio of upper to lower lip inside the mouthpiece that makes an embouchure upstream or downstream. If you look through the videos I've linked to you can see both upstream and downstream players with a jaw position that's slightly receded and also thrust forward. Since Mr. Classical Trumpet states he's got only a little bit of top lip inside the mouthpiece, I think it's a safe guess that his embouchure is working for now as an upstream one with a lower horn angle. The trumpet player I offered as an example has these exact two features, a very low mouthpiece placement right on the red of his upper lip and a receded horn angle. If you look through the entire 6 part video I have some video of the same player playing in a transparent mouthpiece, if you want to look at his chops a little more. My own chops are like this too, although I think the rest of the upstream players I show have a horn angle closer to straight out.

Quote:
I have trouble with my range (I am at a f above the staff but I used to be at a super c. I've tried to go back to bothe lips 50/50 in the mouthpiece but I have cerebal palsy and I think my lip muscles are suffering when I try to go up high the sound just shuts off I think pressure on the little price of the top lip cuts the vibrations if I can't go back to 50/50 what do I do?


I could be misinterpreting Mr. Classical Trumpet's description, but it reads to me as if he's saying that placing the mouthpiece so that there's more upper lip inside isn't working for him now after getting his braces off. It's not uncommon for players to find their mouthpiece placement needs adjusting after the support structure of their teeth changes so radically when the braces are suddenly off, as you noted yourself NikV.

As far as the symptoms he's describing, the exact same things can happen to players who place the mouthpiece higher on the lips too. Without being able to watch Mr. Classical Trumpet play in person, none of us can say whether his issues are caused by his mouthpiece placement or something unrelated.

My specific advice for the OP was to place the mouthpiece where it works and practice good embouchure form. That's really the best advice any of us can offer without seeing him play, I think. When others chimed in and told him the problem was his placement, I pointed out that this extremely low placement can work quite well for a minority of players and it's not always the best thing to suggest a placement change without understanding embouchure patterns better. That's all I'm recommending.

I think I've addressed the anatomy well enough that anyone curious enough can verify for themselves that there's no physiological reason that the upper lip can't accept the mouthpiece rim. I've also showed that many fine players do play with an extremely low placement, although I admit that players who are suited for this embouchure are less common.

Whether or not it applies to Mr. Classical Trumpet or not, none of us can say. But I can say that suggesting to an upstream player that his low mouthpiece placement is to blame for problems would probably end up not working as well as teaching the student to work with his natural tendencies.

What is confusing me now are the latest responses that basically say that my advice doesn't apply to Mr. Classical Trumpet. Again, my advice was general and not specific (safest when you can't see the student in person). My pedagogical suggestion (for all the participants who are giving specific advice to not play on the red) is to understand that this isn't universally wrong and this is important to keep in mind when you're giving advice to someone who you haven't watched play.

I don't think that's unreasonable.


Thanks,

Dave
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peteb
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wilktone wrote:
Hi, Pete.
Danger? How so? I don't think you've offered a plausible reason why it's not allowable for some players to place the mouthpiece on the red, if that's where it happens to work best. There's no anatomical reason why not, and I've offered several examples that show that it is not only possible, but can work quite well when it's correct for the player's anatomy.
I can also show you an example of a player who followed similar advice to what you're suggesting, and it ended up in a breakdown for him. Skip ahead to 4:50.
Best,
Dave


I feel like a broken record, but this player does not demonstrate the condition I'm talking about either, nor the condition of the OP as I understand it. If I am wrong about his placement, then I am wrong, and if the OP plays on a setup like the many you've tried to use as examples then he is probably fine. However, I don't think that is the case.
Mr. Classical Trumpet may be one of the 0.01% (or less) that can play on the embouchure I think he is using, especially if his upper teeth point into his mouth (though I'd think the braces would fix that). If this is the case, maybe a mouthpiece set that low could work. I don't think this is the case though.
A couple of points and I am finished here:
First - At the very least the OP is playing on an incredibly inefficient embouchure, one that provides a brittle and difficult to control sound, poor articulation, and limited flexibility and endurance. If he continues he will not find much improvement regardless of the effort given and will probably become very frustrated in the near future. An inefficient embouchure itself can cause injuries, not necessarily of the embouchure, but things like neck injuries, throat injuries, stomach injuries, hernia's etc. Why? Lets face it, we're trumpet players and our whole goal is to play higher, faster and louder than the next guy, and we will do whatever we have to in order to accomplish that goal (I say this in jest, but we all know that there is some truth to the stereotype). This can result in at least the injuries I mentioned if not more.

Second - No plausible danger of embouchure injuries? Really? A downstream, overbite player, using too much pressure on a setup that places such a small amount of upper lip in the mouthpiece with the rim edge in the red? When pressure is applied the mouthpiece is not only going to be pushed into the teeth, but into the bottom edge of the teeth possibly resulting in cutting from the mouthpiece and/or teeth. Bruising. Possible nerve damage. Muscle stretches or tears.

Am I being an alarmist? Probably, but I would rather tell a player what is possible than tell him he'll be fine, only to have him come back in a couple of months complaining that he can't play a note anymore. All of that can be averted with some minor changes. I am not advocating any dramatic changes, just a slight raising of the mouthpiece, and possibly a slight raising of the horn angle. He would be greatly benefited by using a more efficient embouchure in his playing, which can probably be said of us all.
PB
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Pete.
Quote:
I feel like a broken record, but this player does not demonstrate the condition I'm talking about either, nor the condition of the OP as I understand it.


Pete, I feel as if you're not debating honestly again. The last example I offered was to show how universally recommending moving the mouthpiece off the red can do more harm than good, not what I think the OP's embouchure looks like. In fact, I didn't claim that any of my examples look like the OP's embouchure. I just pointed out that as a blanket recommendation for all players, the advice to avoid placing in the red of the upper lip is not necessarily wrong. It seems as if you're trying to make the particulars of Mr. Classical Trumpet's embouchure fit your advice, rather than your advice specifically fit the OP.

Quote:
Mr. Classical Trumpet may be one of the 0.01% (or less) that can play on the embouchure I think he is using, especially if his upper teeth point into his mouth (though I'd think the braces would fix that).


0.01%? What's your source? That's way too low, by my experience (considering the embouchure which I think the OP is using). What about your claims of the weakness of the orbicular oris under the vermillion? You still haven't told us where you got that information from yet. Have you changed your opinion on that or do you still stand by that earlier statement?

We all make rough guestimates about things based on our own personal experience, so there's nothing wrong with the speculation you're doing here. Just understand that our personal impressions are subject to a whole range of biases that you'll want to be aware of and take into account when you offer your beliefs as indisputable fact. Or at the very least, get used to people asking for your sources when you do.

Quote:
First - At the very least the OP is playing on an incredibly inefficient embouchure, one that provides a brittle and difficult to control sound, poor articulation, and limited flexibility and endurance.


If Mr. Classical Trumpet had a well functioning embouchure he would certainly not be posting embouchure questions, so it's fair for you to say it's inefficient. However, I don't know where you're getting all the symptoms and descriptions you attribute to the OP's playing. The only complaint I recall him mentioning was he lost some range after getting his braces off. That's common, regardless of placement. So are the symptoms you've mentioned, regardless of placement. They may be related to an improper placement, but they certainly aren't always. How do you know what situation applies to Mr. Classical Trumpet?

Quote:
Second - No plausible danger of embouchure injuries? Really? A downstream, overbite player, using too much pressure on a setup that places such a small amount of upper lip in the mouthpiece with the rim edge in the red? When pressure is applied the mouthpiece is not only going to be pushed into the teeth, but into the bottom edge of the teeth possibly resulting in cutting from the mouthpiece and/or teeth. Bruising. Possible nerve damage. Muscle stretches or tears.


I've already addressed everything you've mentioned here, however you keep changing the parameters or offering red herrings every time I do. All the physical damage you mention can happen to all players, regardless of mouthpiece placement, when they have some flaw in their playing mechanics. They are not caused purely by a poor mouthpiece placement.

Please remember that my advice to the OP was simply to find a good placement where things work (wherever that happens to be) and practice building strength and control - all the things that every player wants to work on regardless of placement. I've not even suggested to the OP that he place on the red of the upper lip, just showed that it's not necessarily wrong for some players and might not want to change it if it works best for him. You're making your advice specific and applying it broadly to a player you haven't watched play.

Also, please note that the OP is probably not a downstream player, in spite of his receded jaw position and belief that he's downstream. It's not the horn angle that makes a player upstream or downstream, it's the ratio of upper to lower lip inside. Watch more of my videos if you doubt this. I've shown examples of other players who place extremely low with the exact same characteristics - regardless of whether you believe this applies the the OP (who knows?), it does happen and it's more common than you're realizing.

If the OP is actually setting the mouthpiece so there's no upper teeth support under the mouthpiece rim, then I agree this probably should be corrected. All players, regardless of mouthpiece placement, do want to have the support structure of the teeth and gums under the rim. I've never seen anyone, even a beginner, actually use the sort of placement you're speculating the OP does and I think it's a pretty safe guess that the Mr. Classical Trumpet isn't either (I just tried to do this for fun, and I can't even make anything resembling a sound this way, maybe someone else can have more success). Without being able to see him play, I don't think we should be assuming that he has the issue you (now) claim he does. At least not without asking him about it first or at least elaborating in your points further in case it actually doesn't apply.

Quote:
This can result in at least the injuries I mentioned if not more.


You're moving the goalpost again, and offering red herrings as well. If you want to claim that all the injuries you mentioned are directly related to placing the mouthpiece on the red, then I think it's fair for me to ask again for your source on this information again. A lot of what passes in the brass community as "common knowledge" is wrong, and I still think you're hanging onto some widely believed misconceptions about how brass embouchures actually function.

Quote:
I am not advocating any dramatic changes, just a slight raising of the mouthpiece, and possibly a slight raising of the horn angle.


And the only advice I'm offering that's relevant for you is that perhaps you shouldn't be so confident that you understand what's going when you can't see the player in person. It's not bad to try out your recommendations. In fact, I might recommend similar things to people (including Mr. Classical Trumpet), depending on the individual circumstances as I understand them. However, there's nothing we know about the OP that would indicate this is good advice or bad. My suggestion for you is only to not be so rigid with your recommendations. Especially when you haven't watch the player in person.

I like your attitude, Pete. You're not taking what I'm saying as true without carefully considering it and trying to put it into a proper context. I would like to encourage you to apply the same skeptical attitude to some of your own beliefs about brass embouchures. I think if you do that you'll be able to come back and teach us all something new. Take a look at all the players around you and see what you find out.


Thanks,

Dave
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peteb
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Hi, Pete.
Quote:
Mr. Classical Trumpet may be one of the 0.01% (or less) that can play on the embouchure I think he is using, especially if his upper teeth point into his mouth (though I'd think the braces would fix that).

0.01%? What's your source? That's way too low, by my experience (considering the embouchure which I think the OP is using). What about your claims of the weakness of the orbicular oris under the vermillion? You still haven't told us where you got that information from yet. Have you changed your opinion on that or do you still stand by that earlier statement?

Arbitrary very low number to show how improbable it is, I feel, that such a set up will actually work.


Quote:
If Mr. Classical Trumpet had a well functioning embouchure he would certainly not be posting embouchure questions,


My point from the beginning.
Quote:
However, I don't know where you're getting all the symptoms and descriptions you attribute to the OP's playing.


In your own research you list general characteristics of a variety of embouchures. This is all I am doing.
Quote:
The only complaint I recall him mentioning was he lost some range after getting his braces off. That's common, regardless of placement. So are the symptoms you've mentioned, regardless of placement. They may be related to an improper placement, but they certainly aren't always. How do you know what situation applies to Mr. Classical Trumpet?
I've already addressed everything you've mentioned here, however you keep changing the parameters or offering red herrings every time I do. All the physical damage you mention can happen to all players, regardless of mouthpiece placement, when they have some flaw in their playing mechanics. They are not caused purely by a poor mouthpiece placement.


Poor placement sure will not help.

Quote:
I've shown examples of other players who place extremely low with the exact same characteristics - regardless of whether you believe this applies the the OP (who knows?), it does happen and it's more common than you're realizing.


I don't believe it applies to the OP (I thought I've made that clear). Pretty much every low placement example shows the way I play, so yeah.

Quote:
If the OP is actually setting the mouthpiece so there's no upper teeth support under the mouthpiece rim, then I agree this probably should be corrected. All players, regardless of mouthpiece placement, do want to have the support structure of the teeth and gums under the rim. I've never seen anyone, even a beginner, actually use the sort of placement you're speculating the OP does and I think it's a pretty safe guess that the Mr. Classical Trumpet isn't either (I just tried to do this for fun, and I can't even make anything resembling a sound this way, maybe someone else can have more success).


I have had a student that played so low that I could see most of his upper lip above the mouthpiece. He demonstrated all of the characteristics I mentioned, plus the complaints of the OP.
Quote:
Without being able to see him play, I don't think we should be assuming that he has the issue you (now) claim he does.

Again I thought I made myself pretty clear as to what I thought he was explaining. I have not changed that idea.
Quote:
If you want to claim that all the injuries you mentioned are directly related to placing the mouthpiece on the red, then I think it's fair for me to ask again for your source on this information again.

In this example I was not talking about mouthpiece placement. I was describing problems that can occur when we try to force our body/embouchure to do something it is unable to do.

Quote:
A lot of what passes in the brass community as "common knowledge" is wrong, and I still think you're hanging onto some widely believed misconceptions about how brass embouchures actually function.


According to who? I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but what are your sources that disprove long standing pedagogical tools that have been used by brass players/teachers for years (other than your own interpretations of your research)? I am not proposing to be an expert on embouchure form and function, while you seem to have plenty of knowledge (I am not trying to dispute your research - again, it looks great). I am just trying to share what I know through study and experience.

Quote:
However, there's nothing we know about the OP that would indicate this is good advice or bad. My suggestion for you is only to not be so rigid with your recommendations. Especially when you haven't watch the player in person.


Again, I'm just offering the other point of view from yours, namely that he shouldn't get complacent with this problem.

I appreciate your willingness to challenge me, but I think this has turned into a lot more than offering help for the OP. Sorry if I've contributed to that.
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royjohn
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:04 am    Post subject: Embouchure question Reply with quote

Hi Pete and Dave,

peteb wrote:

Quote:
I appreciate your willingness to challenge me, but I think this has turned into a lot more than offering help for the OP. Sorry if I've contributed to that.


I don't think an apology is necessary. I do agree that you and Dave have gotten rather far afield from the original question, which was rather unclear from the start, but that's the nature of these discussions. I think more info from the OP would be necessary to actually solve his problem and he seems to have decided not to respond further here. It isn't clear to me that he actually plays downstream, it also isn't clear to me what's changed since the braces came off and I also don't know what, if any, influence an diagnosis of CP might have on attempts to play the trumpet.

What has let to the length of this thread is two competing ideas about what's advisable in low placement embouchures. You and Dave have presented your cases pretty well. The only thing I would add is that I have followed several of these threads regarding upstream players and playing in the red to which Dave has contributed. In each case he's cited examples and given research findings based on a fairly large number of individuals studied and he's also shown videos buttressing his conclusions. Also in each case opponents have continued to object out of their experiences, but none has cited any research or given examples which involve more than their own experience or that of one or two students, as far as I can tell. If you look at this purely with an eye to the data, I think Dave is presenting a pretty cogent case. As they say, seeing is believing and seeing repeatedly in a number of cases is pretty persuasive.

If you, peteb, or someone else can come up with some videos of students who have initially played low and on the red and then moved up and played better, let's see them. If what you are saying is based only on your own experience or on that of one or two (or more) students, let's state the facts clearly and let those reading (maybe just the three of us <LOL>) decide what they think.

My experience of these discussions here is that they devolve into "don't confuse me with the facts" and I have decided to accept that that's the way it is. You can only present the data and then let folks make their own decisions. Remember that people didn't believe the earth is round long after proof that is was presented and the same thing is true of organic farming being better than chemicals. I'm sure there are other examples.

One thing nice about brass embouchures is that if you make a change that doesn't work, it doesn't work and that fact is apparent immediately or pretty quickly, so people can do their own experiments. I find it interesting that in several cases people have come here to TH talking about changing their low placements to go higher and have done so, been disappointed and gone back to a low placement. I have not seen anyone post about getting off the red of the upper lip and being successful at that.
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Pete.

Quote:
According to who? I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but what are your sources that disprove long standing pedagogical tools that have been used by brass players/teachers for years (other than your own interpretations of your research)? I am not proposing to be an expert on embouchure form and function, while you seem to have plenty of knowledge (I am not trying to dispute your research - again, it looks great). I am just trying to share what I know through study and experience.


You're not sounding like a jerk at all, you're sounding like a career academic. Or at least someone with a healthy skepticism. Welcome to the club!

I did cite Gray's Anatomy (the medical textbook, not the TV show) for my information about the orbicularis oris. My fiance, the speech therapist I mentioned, is perhaps somewhat biased to simply tell me what I want to hear, but she's never been reluctant to call me out on my B.S before. Not to mention her demonstration, which I'll leave to your imagination to keep the discussion PG.

But if you've got a specific question about something I've stated here, let me know and I'll try to clarify my evidence or cite a source for you. I try to make it clear in my writing when I'm making a guess based on what I think I commonly see and when I've got actual data to back me up, but sometimes I slip up.

Quote:
I have had a student that played so low that I could see most of his upper lip above the mouthpiece. He demonstrated all of the characteristics I mentioned, plus the complaints of the OP.


Quote:
I have not seen anyone post about getting off the red of the upper lip and being successful at that.


Roy, I actually have seen some. I think one of the students in this topic also feels his playing improved after he moved his placement off the red. It's quite possible that Pete's recommendation for his student was spot on.

Pete, I've actually helped some students with similar embouchure problems by doing the exact same thing you did, moving the placement off the red. I've also helped a couple by moving their placement down onto the red. More often, I find that helping the student with firm mouth corners, avoiding a smile embouchure, keep the chin flat, avoid excessive jaw motion, use their correct embouchure motion, and other issues related to embouchure form fix the problems without having to move the placement. It's also important to consider breathing and tonguing mechanics too.

When you help a private student, you get the chance to look at all these issues and see exactly what's going on. When you offer advice online, you're not so informed. Your objection to my thoughts now seem to be that you don't think it applies to Mr. Classical Trumpet. Perhaps you're right, but based on the OPs own words, I think we should at least consider the possibility.

Quote:
I appreciate your willingness to challenge me, but I think this has turned into a lot more than offering help for the OP.


I think we need to admit there's a chance that your advice for Mr. Classical Trumpet to change his placement may not be helpful for him at this time. It won't hurt him to go into his practicing with the understanding that some players play very well with an extremely low placement while others don't. Furthermore, any public discussion like this has an audience that goes well beyond us and the OP. The vast majority of people who read this discussion (sometimes years later) will feel no compulsion to participate, but many will take our discussion and apply it to their own situation without the necessary background to put it into their own context. This makes it more than just a valuable exercise to be as clear as possible when we offer specific advice and to qualify our suggestions when we just don't have enough information.

Quote:
Again, I'm just offering the other point of view from yours, namely that he shouldn't get complacent with this problem.


Again, I feel like your debating tactics are little dishonest. First, I've never stated that Mr. Classical Trumpet should be complacent with his mouthpiece placement. In fact, I think I've been pretty clear that I consider finding the appropriate placement to be very important, regardless of where that ends up. I've also made it pretty clear that this extremely low placement is not very common and that most players won't place that low. Secondly, you still assert that placing on the red of the upper lip is always a "problem," in spite of a lack of support.

Tradition doesn't equal evidence. As one example, it was once common to encourage a smile embouchure, but today we learned that this isn't the best way to play. The lesson here is we need to apply some critical thinking to the suggestions we give and receive, regardless of how authoritative the source seems. That goes for the OP and those of us continuing this conversation equally.


Best,

Dave


Last edited by Wilktone on Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jerry Freedman
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:03 am    Post subject: Re: Embouchure question Reply with quote

royjohn wrote:
Hi Pete and Dave,

peteb wrote:

Quote:
I appreciate your willingness to challenge me, but I think this has turned into a lot more than offering help for the OP. Sorry if I've contributed to that.


I don't think an apology is necessary. I do agree that you and Dave have gotten rather far afield from the original question, which was rather unclear from the start, but that's the nature of these discussions. I think more info from the OP would be necessary to actually solve his problem and he seems to have decided not to respond further here. It isn't clear to me that he actually plays downstream, it also isn't clear to me what's changed since the braces came off and I also don't know what, if any, influence an diagnosis of CP might have on attempts to play the trumpet.

What has let to the length of this thread is two competing ideas about what's advisable in low placement embouchures. You and Dave have presented your cases pretty well. The only thing I would add is that I have followed several of these threads regarding upstream players and playing in the red to which Dave has contributed. In each case he's cited examples and given research findings based on a fairly large number of individuals studied and he's also shown videos buttressing his conclusions. Also in each case opponents have continued to object out of their experiences, but none has cited any research or given examples which involve more than their own experience or that of one or two students, as far as I can tell. If you look at this purely with an eye to the data, I think Dave is presenting a pretty cogent case. As they say, seeing is believing and seeing repeatedly in a number of cases is pretty persuasive.

If you, peteb, or someone else can come up with some videos of students who have initially played low and on the red and then moved up and played better, let's see them. If what you are saying is based only on your own experience or on that of one or two (or more) students, let's state the facts clearly and let those reading (maybe just the three of us <LOL>) decide what they think.
.


Whether or not Dave or Peteb is right ( whatever that may mean) Dave's research is not that much more than anecdotal evidence. Peteb has offered less organized and less anecdotal evidence, but in the absence of real statistics (and there aren't enough samples to judge what is probable or not) all you can say is the Dave has a better presentation.
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:29 am    Post subject: Re: Embouchure question Reply with quote

Hi, Jerry.

Jerry Freedman wrote:
Dave's research is not that much more than anecdotal evidence.


I agree that my video presentations are simply a collection of individual anecdotes. I also am quick to point out that the plural of anecdote does not equal evidence. However, the raw data in the videos (absent of any of my narration) does constitute real evidence, depending on how you apply it.

I'll use the null hypothesis approach to demonstrate what I mean:

H1 - There will be no players who can be shown to play well while placing the mouthpiece on the red of the lip.

This is the default view of a huge number of players and teachers, including some who have offered their opinion in this topic. The data in some of my videos falsify H1 because there indeed are some good players who can be found to place the mouthpiece so the rim is on the upper lip. If someone wants to claim that placing the rim on the red of the upper lip is always wrong, then they need to address this data directly.

H2 - There will be no players who can be shown to play well while placing the mouthpiece above the red of the lip.

Also falsified by the data. If I want to claim that my extremely low placement is the best one for everyone, I need to prove that all those other players are doing it wrong. That won't be supported by the data I presented in my videos.

H3 - There will be no brass players who fit within the 3 basic embouchure types as defined by Doug Elliott, or one of the 9 detailed types of Donald Reinhardt.

So far, I haven't found any players who can't be shown to exhibit the characteristics consistent with these brass embouchure patterns. I've also done some homework and learned that there have been other authors who have independently confirmed the same embouchure features while similarly collecting data that would potentially falsify these embouchure patterns. While H1 and H2 were unrelated to my dissertation research, I actually did address H3 in my experimental design and review of the literature.

I have applied particular controls in the way that I document every player's embouchure. For example, you'll notice that in almost every example I use I show the musicians playing octave slurs so that we can investigate the similarities and differences. This allows us to similarly apply the null hypothesis to other sorts of questions and subject them to an experimental designed to falsify it.

As far as the statistical data that some of us are curious about, I'm afraid that the data I've collected can't be considered a reliable sample in the context of this discussion. I've intentionally gone out of my way to find upstream players so that I could have an appropriate number of examples of the different embouchure types to search for statistically significant differences in easily observed anatomical features (results were largely inconclusive). My best guess is that maybe around 15% of brass players are upstream players, and maybe around 5% will place the mouthpiece best on the upper lip. That's just a guess, though, and purely anecdotal evidence. Still, I think my experiences looking closely suggest that 0.01% is way to low. Still both figures are based purely on anecdotal evidence and shouldn't be trusted.

Quote:
Peteb has offered less organized and less anecdotal evidence,


With all due respect to Pete, who has been very friendly and open, I disagree that Pete's evidence is less anecdotal than mine. My main complaint about Pete's advice is that he is taking a couple of situations (his own embouchure and that of one of his students) and offering suggestions that would seem to be falsified in the data I presented. The Campos source Pete sited appears to be inaccurate and I would think that Gray's Anatomy is a better resource anyway.

Beyond that, all the support I've read in this topic for avoiding placing on the red at all costs is either purely anecdotal, easily falsified, or not relevant to my suggestion to recommend students place the mouthpiece on the lips wherever it happens to work - even on the red of the upper lip if that's where it happens to be.

Quote:
...all you can say is the Dave has a better presentation.


Thanks, I appreciate that. Again, I don't think you should take my word for this. Question me and let me know if you think of something I haven't considered.


Dave
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peteb
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Pete, I've actually helped some students with similar embouchure problems by doing the exact same thing you did, moving the placement off the red. I've also helped a couple by moving their placement down onto the red.More often, I find that helping the student with firm mouth corners, avoiding a smile embouchure, keep the chin flat, avoid excessive jaw motion, use their correct embouchure motion, and other issues related to embouchure form fix the problems without having to move the placement. It's also important to consider breathing and tonguing mechanics too.

I agree 100%.
Quote:
Quote:
Again, I'm just offering the other point of view from yours, namely that he shouldn't get complacent with this problem.


Again, I feel like your debating tactics are little dishonest. First, I've never stated that Mr. Classical Trumpet should be complacent with his mouthpiece placement.

I'm not saying that you have, and I'm probably inputting my own reaction in place of the OP, but if I was recommended to stay with what I have until further notice (even after being told to see someone) I'd probably just stay with what I have - the end. If someone tells me there is even a slight possibility of later issues (damage, injury, poor playing. etc), I will act (faster at least). Chalk that up to laziness, but that would be my reaction - hence my alarmist tone. Having dealt with this issue several times, and observed it more (not in research, so sorry - no evidence here) I figured I could at least chime in with my thoughts. I am in no way an expert - I prefer just to play and not think about it, but as a teacher I need to know these things, and sometimes these "discussions" add more knowledge, or at least more confirmation of what I know.

I have observed a couple cases (just in the past couple of years - probably more if I thought about it) of an embouchure change that was wrong. One player went from head up , horn down embouchure (my understanding of "downstream") to a horn up, head down embouchure (my understanding of "upstream"). The student sounds pretty good and is a great jazz player, but cannot play above a high c. Probably a bad recommendation. Anyway, off topic... (again - A.D.D. )

royjohn - I have been wondering about the implications of the cerebral palsy on the performer as well. Maybe a good research topic...
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

peteb wrote:
I am in no way an expert - I prefer just to play and not think about it, but as a teacher I need to know these things, and sometimes these "discussions" add more knowledge, or at least more confirmation of what I know.


Pete, I said it before, but I like your attitude. Even though you're not particularly interested in this topic, you want to learn more because you recognize it can be useful. And you don't accept something unquestioningly without looking at it from different directions, without resorting to name calling and getting angry. I have no doubt that you'll be successful with your academic pursuits. Good luck!

Dave
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