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Trying to make a decision whether to lower the mouthpiece on



 
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GTDon501
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Joined: 30 Apr 2013
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:32 am    Post subject: Trying to make a decision whether to lower the mouthpiece on Reply with quote

Rich, I have been working hard on buzzing, pencil exercise, jaw retention, etc. Probably two months now. I am a trombone player, not a trumpet player, although I have played trumpet in the past and my set up (and problem) was the same. Here's the problem:

I have the so-called "cupid's bow" upper lip (aka "PTL" in some circles). I also have a minor overbite. So my natural embouchure is downstream. When I ascend, my mouthpiece slips ever higher on my top lip until the bottom lip is barely engaged. It seems to do this because my top lip seems to produce the vibrations necessary for higher notes and the lower lip doesn't. I've practice octaves to watch this, experimented many times with different placements, and this seems to be an immutable fact about my embouchure. The problem is the tone quality becomes airy and articulation is sloppy. Regarding articulation, I first pinpointed this deficiency when I practiced double or triple tonguing the higher notes. I concluded that the notes were being missed because (a) my upper and lower lips weren't in line vertically with other, and to a lesser degree (b) the ever-higher slippage of the mouthpiece to the upper lip isn't producing reliable and consistent vibration between both lips (i.e. the lower lip is getting excluded from the mouthpiece).

I can play in the middle register and lower register with a lower placement embouchure (50 - 50 or even 40-50). Articulation becomes a lot more reliable. And since I'm not playing high, I don't find the lower jaw receding (yes, this also happens, although not much). In sum, better tone and better articulation.

So I have a choice as I move forward with Reinhardt: Do I allow the mouthpiece to slip to where it wants to go or do I try to keep it fixed and continue with the drills? By the way, I play with a wet set up, so the slipping occurs without any conscious manipulation.

As additional information, I have experimented with the idea that higher notes are the product of a projected jaw and a lower lip curled inward. Yes, this seems to be true somewhat for me, but the inward lip curl is far more than
"slightly over the lower teeth"; in fact, it becomes so pronounced as to interfere with my normal tonguing. And I am equally comfortable with dorsal tonguing as well as regular tonguing.

I haven't been typed, but I believe I am a 3A. Maybe 3B.

The upper movement of my mouthpiece seems to be contradictory to the idea of the pivot, which to my understanding does not involve movement of the mouthpiece separate from the lips.

Readers; please, I'm only asking for Reinhardt advice in this forum. So if you have other advice, thanks but no.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Trying to make a decision whether to lower the mouthpiec Reply with quote

GTDon501 wrote:
Rich, I have been working hard on buzzing, pencil exercise, jaw retention, etc. Probably two months now. I am a trombone player, not a trumpet player, although I have played trumpet in the past and my set up (and problem) was the same. Here's the problem:

I have the so-called "cupid's bow" upper lip (aka "PTL" in some circles). I also have a minor overbite. So my natural embouchure is downstream. When I ascend, my mouthpiece slips ever higher on my top lip until the bottom lip is barely engaged. It seems to do this because my top lip seems to produce the vibrations necessary for higher notes and the lower lip doesn't. I've practice octaves to watch this, experimented many times with different placements, and this seems to be an immutable fact about my embouchure. The problem is the tone quality becomes airy and articulation is sloppy. Regarding articulation, I first pinpointed this deficiency when I practiced double or triple tonguing the higher notes. I concluded that the notes were being missed because (a) my upper and lower lips weren't in line vertically with other, and to a lesser degree (b) the ever-higher slippage of the mouthpiece to the upper lip isn't producing reliable and consistent vibration between both lips (i.e. the lower lip is getting excluded from the mouthpiece).

I can play in the middle register and lower register with a lower placement embouchure (50 - 50 or even 40-50). Articulation becomes a lot more reliable. And since I'm not playing high, I don't find the lower jaw receding (yes, this also happens, although not much). In sum, better tone and better articulation.

So I have a choice as I move forward with Reinhardt: Do I allow the mouthpiece to slip to where it wants to go or do I try to keep it fixed and continue with the drills? By the way, I play with a wet set up, so the slipping occurs without any conscious manipulation.

As additional information, I have experimented with the idea that higher notes are the product of a projected jaw and a lower lip curled inward. Yes, this seems to be true somewhat for me, but the inward lip curl is far more than
"slightly over the lower teeth"; in fact, it becomes so pronounced as to interfere with my normal tonguing. And I am equally comfortable with dorsal tonguing as well as regular tonguing.

I haven't been typed, but I believe I am a 3A. Maybe 3B.

The upper movement of my mouthpiece seems to be contradictory to the idea of the pivot, which to my understanding does not involve movement of the mouthpiece separate from the lips.

Readers; please, I'm only asking for Reinhardt advice in this forum. So if you have other advice, thanks but no.


Hey, Don (I'm guessing that's your name),

This is a lot of information, but no information helps like actually watching you play and letting a skilled eye see what you might be doing that is holding you back.

Chris LaBarbera does Skype lessons these days. He's Mr.Hollywood here at TH. You might want to see if he could take a look at your chops. He is rock-solid when it comes to troubleshooting à la Reinhardt. I would go to him before I would go to me, although chances are pretty good I could help you as well.

So with that, I will refrain from guessing what might be going on with your chops and encourage you to look up Chris and get his opinion. I'm pretty busy with a lot of projects these days and that's another reason I would direct you to Chris. I called him a few weeks ago with my own chops question and he nailed it right down, having known my playing and some of my history and difficulties.

There you go . . . keep us posted!
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GTDon501
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Joined: 30 Apr 2013
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 6:08 am    Post subject: Update Reply with quote

I thought I'd post my experience after taking a lesson with Doug Elliott. I took a Skype lesson from him about a month ago.

First, he told me, "forget about anything you previously thought you knew".

Then he watched my embouchure, both sides, as I played arpeggios and octaves pointing directly at my computer screen. He had me move my bell experimentally both left and right, up and down as I played. I play trombone, mind you.

He confirmed that I am definitely a downstream player. No news there.

He recommended that I work on pointing my horn slightly up and to my left as I ascend, and slightly lower and diagonally left as I descended. I couldn't tell any difference. I suspect he was listening to my pitch going sharp or flat, but I don't really know. The difference in movement is very slight; say 1 - 2 inches of movement at the outer end of my slide. The movement is all with my hands; in other words, no movement with my head.

Then he asked me to free buzz. I had been working on that for about 4 months, so I had a pretty good buzz. He said he was looking for a bit "airier" tone, and softer, that mine was a bit too "buzzy". Then he had me buzz, then place my buzzing embouchure direct to the mouthpiece and attempt to play with that identical embouchure. Surprise, surprise, I couldn't without an adjustment which felt like I was allowing my lower lip to move forward. He said keep working on it, that he saw nothing wrong.

We worked on two exercises; buzzing, then placing the horn on my lips, and working the up - down horn movement with arpeggios. Also, the same buzzing to horn placement, then working on decreasing the sound to a whisper, down to where my sound cuts out, then trying to re-establish the tone, back and forth..

That's it. He said work on that every day. And I do. And I buzz every day, in my car, to and from work.

Doug says he plays with the exact same embouchure used when free buzzing.
I watched him free buzz about three octaves. He says the only thing he does to ascend is move his tongue and slightly intensify the lower corners of his embouchure.

I find that using the same buzzing embouchure to playing is very difficult for me, as my lower lip tucks in quite a bit while free buzzing, which causes a pretty radical downward angle on the horn. Also, my lower lip is so drawn in when buzzing that it interferes with my tonguing. I think I understand enough to believe this will change over time.

So how has this changed my playing? Not much, yet. I practice every day, about an hour. I notice that I am trying to ascend with my lower lip tucked in and my jaw attempting to bear more of the weight of the mouthpiece pressure. Mostly I just do the exercises as best I can, then practice my music.

The reason for this post is not to teach anyone else that this is right for them. The primary thing I learned is that this is a highly individual approach, and that what Doug suggested for me might be radically different than what is good for someone else. In other words, don't assume that what was prescribed for me is right for you.

I hope that I'm being fair to Doug, here. If not, I hope he will correct me. My current plan is to give this about four months of work, and then take another Skype lesson with him.

One further thing I will say is that paying $150 for a lesson sure makes you pay attention and apply what you are told.
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