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Let's share some positive embouchure change stories


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trumpetcadet
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 12:49 pm    Post subject: Let's share some positive embouchure change stories Reply with quote

As the title suggest, I would like to hear some of your embouchure change success stories and maybe use this thread as a repository for the fellow players in here that are going through one and are struggling bringing their playing back to the level they desired.


I am going through a minor adjustment myself (moved my lowed jaw slightly forward because my lower lip was getting rolled over and would be stuck between my teeth rows as I ascended), and even though everything else is technically the same I am having to rebuild most of my playing. I am having to bring back articulation, flexibility, endurance, range and response to where they were, and after a couple of really hard days now I can say I am more than 50% back (today is day 11) with a more resonant, freer sound. Even though I enjoy seeing the fast improvement happening before my eyes, some days it's harder to be patient and stay positive. I would love to hear your stories!
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps it would be more helpful if people mentioned the things that they changed to get improvement.
for example -
I was doing xyz before, and it had such-and-such an effect. Now I do abc and get this effect.

For me, the 2 big changes are
1) Stop doing 'stretched thin lips' (caused lip pain and loss of vibration), and started doing 'lip stiffening' to control vibration rate.
2) Stop depending on high mouthpiece upper lip pressure to 'squeak out' higher pitches, started using controlled lower lip pressure to allow my upper lip to be CAPABLE of vibrating (not smashed flat).

You might also find something useful in my doc here -
http://users.hancock.net/jkosta/Embouchure_Basic_Concepts.docx

Jay
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Shark01
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of mine is similar to Jays......I am working to stop “smiling” for higher notes, going more towards a Claude Gordon approach. I recently had my upper front tooth break off at the gum line so the end result has been slow in coming but my range is at least on par with the smile approach.

The other is trying to get to more of a 50/50 use of upper and lower. In high school, a century ago, I would thin out my upper lip and be like 80% lower. Now this one is a work in progress as I will now tend to go mostly upper lip when things get dicey.

But I feel like I’m past the break even point and will see more benefits than challenges in the future.
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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For about 20 years I did something that visually looked like 'playing the trumpet' but without any of the sound or range that you'd expect from someone who's been playing for 20 years (ok, maybe not that bad, but it wasn't anything near decent). I tried various teachers and methods of playing, but no matter what, I couldn't get the technique right (my breath was way too high and I couldn't breathe with my stomach muscles if my life depended on it). My goto technique was 'stick your trumpet into your face hard for the high notes', which was anything above the middle c (yeah the one IN the bar).

About 4 years ago, my teacher was moving to pursue other things (running a kitesurfing school to be exact) and informed me that het was selling an old vintage trumpet. I tried it after a particularly gruesome rehersal night and I had barely any embrouchure left, but I could still hardly put the horn down. It played a lot better than my Getzen and I really experienced the effects of equipment on performance could be. My own life took a different turn as well and that summer, I wound up trying a new method of playing. Using some of the basic techniques of Bill Adam, I reset my embrouchure that summer.

What I did was essentially this:
- I stopped focusing on anything other than the sound coming from my instrument. Instead, I concentrated on the sound I wished to make. That taught me not to lock up my lungs.
- I tried the leadpipe/mouthpiece trick where you blow only air through the mouthpiece (without sound) and then put it on the leadpipe which then produces a sound. That taught me that you don't need power to play, only finesse.
- I 'sang' the notes first, then through the leadpipe, and finally through my instrument. That taught me to make my air flow and hit the notes in the core.
- I only played if I could play relaxed and well. If I used too much pressure or the sound/airflow wasn't open, I stopped playing and picked up the instrument again the next day. That helped my muscles to memorize the 'right' way to play.
- I got a shallow mouthpiece just before and I think that helped my technique as my lips had less room to move.

I stopped all the excercises and etudes, all the focusing on forcing my chops & body to do what I thought it needed to do, and just relaxed and played. At first, that included only a few notes (the center F to be exact). But my technique and range expanded and over the course of 2 years. I can now hit the D above the bar without applying any pressure or effort at all (lips, mouth or breath)! I also sound a lot better than I ever did and although it still requires concentration, it's not the fatiguing kind. All I have to do now is ensure that I don't fall back to my old playing style. But even when I do have an off day, I still play way better than I ever did.

Buying that Olds Recording was the first step in a chain of events that helped me become a proper lead trumpet for our orchestra. I found that the Olds, combined with the shallow mouthpiece, more or less forced me to shape up because unlike the Getzen with a regular mouthpiece, there's simply no room for error. And when you do get it right on an Olds...you really get it right.

So my golden tip to others would be: you don't need force or power to play the trumpet. Make sure your lips have room to vibrate with the air and go for finesse. If you have to work for a note, you're doing it wrong.
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Jaw04
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My embouchure has been evolving for years. I did a full embouchure reset in college because my teacher said my setting was too high. So he had me lower it and I ended up playing in the red of my top lip. My placement floated around for a few years, and still does change a bit from day to day or week to week or month to month. My teeth have shifted a bit. I experimented with a lot of different ways to play. Nowadays my top lip is inside the mouthpiece, I've learned how to use the embouchure muscles and not overblow. I've learned how to use my tongue and jaw and the fine mechanics that are involved in flexibility and range.

Basically it took me until my mid to late twenties to be able to play well above the staff and be happy with my sound on a recording. I just never gave up. I'm not a super high note player but I get up to high Fs and Gs, and I can play in tune and can enjoy playing the trumpet most days
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jscahoy
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JayKosta wrote:
Perhaps it would be more helpful if people mentioned the things that they changed to get improvement.
for example -
I was doing xyz before, and it had such-and-such an effect. Now I do abc and get this effect.

My endurance was always poor. Then one day I saw myself play on a recording. My horn was basically pointed to the ground. All I really had to do was keep thinking "horn up". This required pushing my jaw out. Suddenly I no longer blew my chops apart. Playing higher became a matter of breath support, not facial muscles that quickly tired.

I kick myself for taking so long to figure this out.
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dershem
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started out mostly self-taught. My junior high school band teacher played trumpet, but he was primarily a screamer, and had a thin, annoying sound.
My bro Mic would come by once a year when he was in town, and give me pointers, but never stuck around long enough to explain what he meant by most of them, so while he helped a little, he may have also slowed things down. He talked about the 'no pressure' system and got me into free buzzing, but never expanded on it, and when he came to town we spent more time hanging out that anything else - he wanted to get away from worrying about technique (this is when he was in his late teens to early 20's).
The teacher they assigned me at the navy music school was a worth [EXPLETIVES DELETED]. Ducks sounded better and his ego was massive. My lessons with him were always "your hand position is wrong and you're not supporting." No ideas on why or how to change that - just criticism. So I experimented a lot, and got contrasting pointers from other students, but my sound and range were still mylookout. other teachers helped with reading, but...
After I left the navy, I gave L.A. a shot, and accidentally met Red Rodney, and talked him into giving me lessons.
Red chewed me out a lot, and told stories a lot, often about how he re-did his embouchure after getting his new teeth (a story of its own), but he stopped me using the horn and the mouthpiece and pressure and stress to play above the steff, and taught me better.
"Learn to play wet. Your setting is found by saying 'mom' and putting the mouthpiece to your lip at the last 'm';, and playing a LOT of long tones and flexibilities to build firmness in the chops without getting stiff or tense. learn to avoid using mouthpiece pressure by rotating your horn around the long axis while playing. Hold the horn in the palm of your hand and play long tones and flexibilities that way, to learn how to not use pressure.
Red gave me an octave+ on my range (when I have the time to practice), and added a lot of flexibility. Totally changed my setup, and all for the better.
When I got back together with Mic after he started playing again (and stopped hiding out, which was for good reasons) his reaction was mostly "Well... yeah. you didn't knowthat?" THENwe did a few lessons and refined things.
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PH
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2020 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I began teaching my first private trumpet students in 1968. Over that time I have not seen a single conscious and willfull "embouchure change" that was a net positive experience. Not a single one, including a great many students studying with other people of high repute.

Evolution over time is the answer. Revolution is an act of violence.
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JoseLindE4
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2020 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went to college at a big state institution where many of the younger players studied with TAs. During my freshman year, I was with a TA. The main professor was a brilliant teacher and completely against any kind of embouchure changes other than what happens naturally over time.

My TA was more of a tinkerer. I was working hard and not making much progress. I was also experiencing pretty significant pain, but if I took time off (even a day), I couldn't play for days. Basically, I had a pretty massive daily routine to keep my house of cards up in order to play but all of that playing was hurting me. My setup was pretty low and utilized manipulating the amount of flesh available on my upper lip as well as a pretty intense wrist twist. There was a permanent, open wound on the inside of my upper lip. It hurt.

After my freshman year, I took the leap and changed my setup over the summer. I had spent the spring practicing various drills developing a new setup while maintaining my old, complicated system. Once the semester was over, I was determined to never look back.

When I returned the next fall, I could barely play, but my gut told me that this was a better approach (the pain was gone and there was a core to the sound that I could never produce before). I was by then studying with the main professor, who was unhappy with my choice but was very patient. He was also pretty unhappy with my old TA.

It took maybe another year (and lots of practice) to get back to my previous level. The good news was that I could practice as much as I wanted to without pain. By my senior year, I was playing pretty well. A few years after that, I won a full-time, professional audition.

That TA took a real risk and gave me a career. If not for him, I'd be doing something else.

It was no doubt a big risk. I could have found myself lost in the wilderness of confusion. At times it was terrifying. I had to be comfortable with being the worst player around for quite a while. There may have been a gentle route to getting there, but that route didn't seem apparent and I still can't see it in hindsight.

That said, I've never pushed a student in this direction. Virtually all young players suffer from ineffective thinking about the horn and getting wrapped up in the setup doesn't solve that problem. Quite often, solving thinking problems will lead the student to solve any setup problems. The reverse is virtually impossible.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PH wrote:
... Evolution over time is the answer. ...

-------------------------------------
Have you noticed any common aspects in the 'end-point successful' embouchures?
In your teaching, do you envision 'individual student-specific' embouchure improvements and guide or instruct your students?

Jay
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going back to French horn!
Yamaha 668N, Holton DC mpc
The 'next note' is the most important one.
Don't take a '20 minute mouthpiece' to a 1 hour session.
http://users.hancock.net/jkosta/2021_April_1_snow_web.jpg
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PH
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JayKosta wrote:
PH wrote:
... Evolution over time is the answer. ...

-------------------------------------
Have you noticed any common aspects in the 'end-point successful' embouchures?
In your teaching, do you envision 'individual student-specific' embouchure improvements and guide or instruct your students?

Jay


As Mr. Adam used to say, the perfect embouchure is one that let's you play as high as you need to, as low as you need to, as loud as you need to, and as soft as you need to. Beyond that, it is very individualized. I understand how to get a player to play better and with proper guidance the embouchure will evolve into something that works. But people have to understand that great players often develop embouchures that look "wrong" according to many so called embouchure "experts." Look at Liesl Whitaker, Chris Botti, Jon Faddis, Ray Crisara...
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@ Phil. What's unconventional about Liesl's embouchure?
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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PH wrote:
I have not seen a single conscious and willfull "embouchure change" that was a net positive experience.

Sorry to hear that, but those do exist. Mine was anyway, and that was done using Bill Adam's teachings, something I think you support greatly.
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PH
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hibidogrulez wrote:
PH wrote:
I have not seen a single conscious and willfull "embouchure change" that was a net positive experience.

Sorry to hear that, but those do exist. Mine was anyway, and that was done using Bill Adam's teachings, something I think you support greatly.


Were you working with Adam or one of his students?

In reading your post above, it sounds like you used the Adam approach to RECOVER from the typical dead end problems that almost always result from conscious embouchure changes.

The cure is not the disease.
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PH
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kehaulani wrote:
@ Phil. What's unconventional about Liesl's embouchure?


Have you looked at it closely? It's off center and she plays down and at an angle, among other things. I didn't put her through an embouchure change, which many teachers would have. I just had her focus on certain things that made her better and better.
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deleted_user_48e5f31
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PH wrote:
kehaulani wrote:
@ Phil. What's unconventional about Liesl's embouchure?


Have you looked at it closely? It's off center and she plays down and at an angle, among other things. I didn't put her through an embouchure change, which many teachers would have. I just had her focus on certain things that made her better and better.


I guess I've just seen so many altered chops that they look normal to me. Thanks for answering.
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RussellDDixon
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jay[/quote]

As Mr. Adam used to say, the perfect embouchure is one that let's you play as high as you need to, as low as you need to, as loud as you need to, and as soft as you need to. Beyond that, it is very individualized. I understand how to get a player to play better and with proper guidance the embouchure will evolve into something that works. But people have to understand that great players often develop embouchures that look "wrong" according to many so called embouchure "experts." Look at Liesl Whitaker, Chris Botti, Jon Faddis, Ray Crisara...[/quote]

AMEN to that ... we are ALL individuals.
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deleted_user_02066fd
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went to high school with a guy who was a beast of a player. He could peel paint with his power. He was good to F-G above high C when he was 16. He never missed and never seemed to get tired. His setup was so cockeyed that it made Faddis look normal. The closest to his setup I've ever seen was photos and video of Ziggy Elman. He did all this with a very limited practice schedule as well, maybe an hour a day. We studied from the same private teacher. He was also a very good athlete who played football and spring track. Thankfully our teacher left him alone and never tried to change his set up. He was a couple of years ahead of me and never really played again after high school. He probably hasn't played since 1973. He focused on throwing events for track in college and was a Division 2 All American.
I reconnected with him last year through facebook and we don't live too far from each other. Once the covid crisis improves we are going to get together. I'd love to know if he would be interested in picking up the horn again.
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VetPsychWars
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suffered for decades until I just pulled the mouthpiece as far down as it would go. If you look at me, it looks like there's a lot of rim on the upper lip, but it sure doesn't feel that way.

Effort to play went from "a whole lot" to "hardly any".

Tom
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