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Let's share some positive embouchure change stories


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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PH wrote:
Were you working with Adam or one of his students?

No, I used his approach yes, but not an actual teacher. I had none available at the time.

PH wrote:
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.

No, you misunderstood. I didn't try to change anything about my embouchure before I tried his approach (other than practicing a lot in vain hoping to improve).
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delano
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

VetPsychWars wrote:
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


I did exactly the same. In my case the only solution to get rid of a suffocated way of playing.
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PH
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hibidogrulez wrote:
PH wrote:
Were you working with Adam or one of his students?

No, I used his approach yes, but not an actual teacher. I had none available at the time.

PH wrote:
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.

No, you misunderstood. I didn't try to change anything about my embouchure before I tried his approach (other than practicing a lot in vain hoping to improve).


Sorry. I misremembered your post. Rereading it now, I do not think anyone would call what you did an "embouchure change." That is precisely what I mean when I say, "Evolution, not revolution!"
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JoseLindE4
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom Hooten is a great player who made an embouchure change work: https://www.chopsaver.com/blog/tom-hooten-principal-trumpet-los-angeles-philharmonic-orchestra-interview-part-3/. He REALLY made it work.
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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PH wrote:
Sorry. I misremembered your post. Rereading it now, I do not think anyone would call what you did an "embouchure change." That is precisely what I mean when I say, "Evolution, not revolution!"

No problem. The reason I call it that personally is that I've played 'wrongly' for about 25 years and then spent a summer 'setting up a new way of playing' which (at the end of sumer) only gave me about the same range I had before, same endurance but better tone and no lip pressure.

Everything leading up to the summer did prepare me mentally for such a change. Before that I thought I'd be stuck at a nasal middle G forever, but that first new mouthpiece kicked things off by showing me that improvement was at least a possibility. I spent 2 years after that building my range, embouchure and getting gear that actually fit me. So while the 'revolution' period was quite short, there was an 'evolution' period around it of about 5 years

The actual change was a radical new thing for me and the biggest change I've ever made, but I agree that it wasn't 'from middle C to DHC overnight'.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hibidogrulez wrote:
... The actual change was a radical new thing for me and the biggest change I've ever made, but I agree that it wasn't 'from middle C to DHC overnight'.

------
How did you find and choose the embouchure that you adopted?
Did you compare your 'old' embouchure to a description of the 'new' before you started to make the change?
Is your new embouchure similar to any of the types described online or in books?

Jay
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 9:02 am    Post subject: Re: Let's share some positive embouchure change stories Reply with quote

trumpetcadet wrote:
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 would love to hear your stories!


I began playing cornet back in the late fifthies. Was told to approach the thing as if I were to spit -so much for that! Practiced a lot and some 4 -5 years later I had won a front row chair in the brass band (still do). Obviously I did rather well in spite of hardly 10 months of instructions. University years ment playing lead in a swingband, Hayden 1974 - concert with the university band. Years went by - practiced a lot, meaning maybe 30 minuters a day, a good day (full time job, full time studies full time childrearing, full time....)still brass band still swingband. Charles Colins Advanced Lip Flexibilites kept me going. But - then I semiretired and began to practice, much! Chops went to the dogs in no time. Overuse syndrom.
Evidently I had played all these years on a faulty embouchure. So I took lessons, well beyond 70. Back to being able to play again; the main focus was on breathing. Often I had produced notes with my lips, not enough back up from my lungs. Obviously young lips, dedication and a certain knack for playing higher than my mates. However more squeaks than pure sound.

Then the embouchure change happened! Finding the TH I found the BE!
A bit odd circumstances resulted in lead chairs again. How to regain my range (well..almost)? The endurance of my youth (well....almost)? BE!
I will say no more. But I feel blessed finding the BE. It´s remarkable!
So is the bl-y covid 19.....but I use the quarantine upgrading. But it really sucks. Not at all appropriate when you play the trumpet.
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Steve A
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personal opinion - I don't mean any disrespect to anyone or their views, just some observations from my own experience.

I think that embouchure is probably the most difficult and potentially problematic aspect of trumpet playing to teach, so it's not surprising that many people try to focus on anything and everything else first, but that it's every bit as important as air, and that there's not much logical basis for disputing that. People who happen to start out with reasonably functional embouchure formations or who have good luck when practicing in finding physical settings that work for them might understandably not think it's important or productive to work on, but I think there's a meaningful subset of the brass playing population who don't happen to fall into one of those camps (through no fault of their own), and the fact that most currently popular teaching methodologies, especially in the classical branch of trumpet playing, either ignore teaching embouchure or are even actively hostile to the idea that it can or should be taught are a big cause of frustration and lack of progress for people who are otherwise labeled "untalented".

Yes it's difficult, and there is a degree of variation from person to person, but in my experience, no amount of air volume or pressure, or vivid sound concept, or tongue level adjustment, or equipment changes, etc., will solve problems for people who don't know how their embouchures are supposed to feel and work. This whole issue is vexed by the dogmatic and inflexible insistence of people who've evidently not needed to make embouchure adjustments or been successful in doing it that it's always wrong and unnecessary and the answer is always more air. I don't tell people air isn't important, because there's no sound without it, but there's also no sound without an embouchure, and the suggestion that learning one actively will guarantee the other works naturally is no more sound when starting with air than when starting with embouchure. You need both to work, and might need to roll up your sleeves and figure something embouchure related out, especially if you teach, so I wish we'd stop insisting our way is the only way, and start trying to learn from people who've taken different paths to good results.
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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JayKosta wrote:
How did you find and choose the embouchure that you adopted?

That's actually a really good question. The answer is that I don't really know. I kinda read about Bill Adam's 'imagine the tone you want to play and focus on that, not your body' and went with that. Leadpipe buzzing also helped me realize how little force you actually need to play.

JayKosta wrote:
Did you compare your 'old' embouchure to a description of the 'new' before you started to make the change?

Sort of. My old embouchure, if it can even be called that, was forcing stomach breathing to the point where it actually locked my air, and stuffing my trumpet in my face as hard as I could whenever I wanted to play anything above middle C. My main purpose was to stop forcing the notes, so anytime I felt I applied the slighest bit of force, I stopped playing. If I had a bad embouchure day, I didn't play at all. I really wanted my muscle memory to adapt to playing relaxed. Even now, when I play stuff from the past, I have to be careful not to play 'the old way' again. Muscle memory is looong...

JayKosta wrote:
Is your new embouchure similar to any of the types described online or in books?

I'd like to think I'm practicing Bill Adam's techniques, but I'll admit it's only a very small part of it. Basically, I don't really know exactly what I'm doing right now, but it works for me.

I do not claim to be a great or even a good player, or that this is THE next best way to learn the trumpet. All I can say is that it worked for me.
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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve A wrote:
... that it's always wrong and unnecessary and the answer is always more air.

Like you, I've been told that many times. It can actually be counterproductive. In an effort to forcibly take in and put out as much air as you can, playing can actually become much harder (especially if you lock up your breath while doing so). It really doesn't take all that much air to play the trumpet (especially high notes). In this masterclass, Jens Lindemann shows how little air playing high takes (it's really worth watching).

Steve A wrote:
so I wish we'd stop insisting our way is the only way, and start trying to learn from people who've taken different paths to good results.

Nicely put. I for one am very grateful of all the stories and experiences shared on these forums. They've really changed my (trumpet) life.
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Last edited by hibidogrulez on Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:50 am; edited 2 times in total
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delano
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve A wrote:
Personal opinion - I don't mean any disrespect to anyone or their views, just some observations from my own experience.

I think that embouchure is probably the most difficult and potentially problematic aspect of trumpet playing to teach, so it's not surprising that many people try to focus on anything and everything else first, but that it's every bit as important as air, and that there's not much logical basis for disputing that. People who happen to start out with reasonably functional embouchure formations or who have good luck when practicing in finding physical settings that work for them might understandably not think it's important or productive to work on, but I think there's a meaningful subset of the brass playing population who don't happen to fall into one of those camps (through no fault of their own), and the fact that most currently popular teaching methodologies, especially in the classical branch of trumpet playing, either ignore teaching embouchure or are even actively hostile to the idea that it can or should be taught are a big cause of frustration and lack of progress for people who are otherwise labeled "untalented".

Yes it's difficult, and there is a degree of variation from person to person, but in my experience, no amount of air volume or pressure, or vivid sound concept, or tongue level adjustment, or equipment changes, etc., will solve problems for people who don't know how their embouchures are supposed to feel and work. This whole issue is vexed by the dogmatic and inflexible insistence of people who've evidently not needed to make embouchure adjustments or been successful in doing it that it's always wrong and unnecessary and the answer is always more air. I don't tell people air isn't important, because there's no sound without it, but there's also no sound without an embouchure, and the suggestion that learning one actively will guarantee the other works naturally is no more sound when starting with air than when starting with embouchure. You need both to work, and might need to roll up your sleeves and figure something embouchure related out, especially if you teach, so I wish we'd stop insisting our way is the only way, and start trying to learn from people who've taken different paths to good results.


I suppose this is the way to go, very good post. Teaching embouchure is so difficult because how do you teach the experience of a certain feeling?
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delano
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hibidogrulez wrote:
Steve A wrote:
... that it's always wrong and unnecessary and the answer is always more air.

That could actually be counterproductive. In an effort to forcibly take in and put out as much air as you can, playing can actually become much harder. It really doesn't take all that much air to play the trumpet (especially high notes). In this masterclass, Jens Lindemann shows how little air playing high takes (it's really worth watching).


Well, start on 2.40:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUij8FCg0z8
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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

delano wrote:
Well, start on 2.40:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUij8FCg0z8

Nice video. Mendez indeed says the same thing: the effort you put into the trumpet shouldn't be more than you do when talking. Having a lot of breath merely extends how long you can play in succession. It is amazing to see how little effort he actually uses .

P.S. Timestamp for Jens' example (at 26 minutes into the video).

EDIT: A lot of less experienced players confuse 'lots of air' with 'force a lot of air through your instrument when playing' (I was one of those players).
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gstump
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I played off to the side and my right cheek puffed out. At college my teacher was not into clinical stuff or actually how to play the trumpet. My range was good but my lower dynamic range was bad. I could not really play soft above the staff.

Summer of my junior year I took lessons from Bruce Revesz. Bruce played with City Center Opera and was a very popular teacher in New Jersey. He asked me if I wanted to do an embouchure change. He said it would be 6 weeks before I should play above G top on the staff. I went for it and saw a major improvement in my sound and control. My teacher back at BGSU seemed slightly put off and said...."I did not think you were that serious about trumpet"

-Corners pulled slightly down and against teeth
-A little less than 2/3 on top lip.

Whenever I need reminded to maintain my embouchure I look at this "portrait" in my studio for some inspiration.



This embouchure has served me well! Thank you Bruce
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2020 1:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Let's share some positive embouchure change stories Reply with quote

trumpetcadet wrote:
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.


Depending on how to define an embouchure “change” I’ve gone through a number. In high school my trumpet teacher worked with me to center my mouthpiece placement, which was noticeably set on the left side. It must not have really stayed put, since I went through the exact same suggestion as a freshman in college, now studying trombone. Fast forward about 8 years and I was a doctoral student still struggling with the same high range and tone issues that I had had since high school. My teacher at the time helped set me up with a lesson from Doug Elliott, who advised me to move my mouthpiece placement not only back towards the left side, but also to allow it to go much lower so that there was more lower lip inside than upper lip. It helped me break through my high range cap in about 30 minutes. After a couple of months I retrained myself to play my entire range with the very low mouthpiece placement setting and I’m still playing this way.



After this experience I developed an academic interest in brass embouchure technique and pedagogy. I’ve conducted original research on the topic and published in a couple of different academic journals and given masterclasses in embouchure technique to share what I’ve learned. I’ve successfully helped students make embouchure corrections and embouchure changes as well as learned when to stay away from making any suggestions.

Steve A wrote:
Personal opinion - I don't mean any disrespect to anyone or their views, just some observations from my own experience.


Steve, I agree wholeheartedly with virtually everything you wrote above. Your point that brass teachers should understand embouchure technique better is spot on. The one area where I disagree is here:

Quote:
I think that embouchure is probably the most difficult and potentially problematic aspect of trumpet playing to teach…


I really don’t think it’s all that complicated, but there is definitely a culture of ignorance when it comes to teaching embouchure mechanics. Case in point, the advice to ignore it or focus on another aspect of technique in order to let issues work itself out is prevalent in many circles, including this topic. It’s one thing for a performer to both not understand how he/she plays and not really care. It’s quite another thing for a teacher to refuse to learn about an absolutely vital topic of brass playing. It perpetuates the cycle of ignorance.

What’s currently lacking is a conceptual framework for brass teachers and players to understand not just what correct embouchure technique is, but how to analyze problems and make fixes. If analyzing technique is screwing up a musician it’s probably because they (or their teacher) is doing it wrong.

All brass musicians have a different face, so all embouchures are going to be different. There are some basic patterns, however. When you understand what to look for and how those characteristics interact with each other along with the other elements of brass technique you will have a powerful pedagogical tool. How you choose to teach your students to play is up to you and your student’s unique circumstances, but having an accurate understanding of what you’re trying to teach is much better than ignoring it and hoping that problems will go away.

Here is a resource I put together that strives to help brass teachers understand embouchure technique better. My target audience are music teachers, not performers, but some of you who are just players wanting to understand how your chops work might find something useful in it as well.

http://www.wilktone.com/?page_id=5619

Dave
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Jaw04
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2020 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve A wrote:
Personal opinion - I don't mean any disrespect to anyone or their views, just some observations from my own experience.

I think that embouchure is probably the most difficult and potentially problematic aspect of trumpet playing to teach, so it's not surprising that many people try to focus on anything and everything else first, but that it's every bit as important as air, and that there's not much logical basis for disputing that. People who happen to start out with reasonably functional embouchure formations or who have good luck when practicing in finding physical settings that work for them might understandably not think it's important or productive to work on, but I think there's a meaningful subset of the brass playing population who don't happen to fall into one of those camps (through no fault of their own), and the fact that most currently popular teaching methodologies, especially in the classical branch of trumpet playing, either ignore teaching embouchure or are even actively hostile to the idea that it can or should be taught are a big cause of frustration and lack of progress for people who are otherwise labeled "untalented".

Yes it's difficult, and there is a degree of variation from person to person, but in my experience, no amount of air volume or pressure, or vivid sound concept, or tongue level adjustment, or equipment changes, etc., will solve problems for people who don't know how their embouchures are supposed to feel and work. This whole issue is vexed by the dogmatic and inflexible insistence of people who've evidently not needed to make embouchure adjustments or been successful in doing it that it's always wrong and unnecessary and the answer is always more air. I don't tell people air isn't important, because there's no sound without it, but there's also no sound without an embouchure, and the suggestion that learning one actively will guarantee the other works naturally is no more sound when starting with air than when starting with embouchure. You need both to work, and might need to roll up your sleeves and figure something embouchure related out, especially if you teach, so I wish we'd stop insisting our way is the only way, and start trying to learn from people who've taken different paths to good results.
This is right on. I hate when people go into percentages of what trumpet playing is all about. As soon as I hear "its 90%..." I want to scream. Its everything in balance, and talking about only one thing is actually harmful.
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Trumpetingbynurture
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

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!


If I can make a suggestion, if you're playing on a fairly affordable stock mouthpiece, get a matching one, but have the mouthpiece bent like ~8-10 degrees. It's counter-intuitive, but for me, bending the mouthpiece actually helps my lower jaw stay/hang forward slightly. I noticed that happening the first time I played on a bent mouthpiece, which is the opposite of what I had expected. The first few days were a bit weird and disorientating but then I adjusted. For me, this was helpful because the mouthpiece creates a change and is, itself, consistent, so it meant I didn't have to think about 'form' constantly, I just played and let the adjustment happen intuitively. It's also not a big deal going back to an unbent mouthpiece if after a couple of weeks it's not working for you. I can swap backwards and forwards and it's not a big deal. There's only an adjustment period if I've been playing on an unbent one for a few days, and then want to go back to a bent one.
For some reason that I don't really understand, it's easier to keep my lower jaw forward with a bent mouthpiece than with a straight one. Which doesn't make sense, because you'd think the angle would encourage the lower jaw to stay receded, but for me, the opposite is true, it comes forward a bit and with no feeling of holding it forward. Doesn't make sense to my rational brain, but the change has meant my horn angle and jaw position stays more consistent from day to day, which has made my playing more consistent from day to day, and also makes the horn less awkward for the left hand and wrist as it's consistently fairly horizontal.

Run it past your teacher, but with their blessing, give it a try for a couple of weeks and see if you notice any improvements. First few days will be weird, because your jaw will be in a different place than you're used to, but then everything will go back to feeling and working like 'normal'. At least that's what happened for me.

If it's a matter of 60 or 80 bucks for a bent mouthpiece, it's worth the experiment in my opinion.
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Seymor B Fudd
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gstump´s wonderful picture of a gorilla - looking at it I find the "Mean Old Man Look" advocated by Jeff Smiley, our Balanced Embouchure Man!!
That´s all there is to it!!
Thanks a lot Gstump for providing! I find great inspiration looking at it. Looking as it doesn´t make me popular with my wife though. Or small dogs - have noticed they start barking at me if...
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trumpetingbynurture wrote:
If I can make a suggestion, if you're playing on a fairly affordable stock mouthpiece, get a matching one, but have the mouthpiece bent like ~8-10 degrees. It's counter-intuitive, but for me, bending the mouthpiece actually helps my lower jaw stay/hang forward slightly.


Interesting.

That said, not everyone will want to move their jaw forward when playing, many brass musicians play with a receded jaw position. For those players, changing their jaw position would have the opposite effect.

Dave
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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wilktone wrote:
That said, not everyone will want to move their jaw forward when playing, many brass musicians play with a receded jaw position. For those players, changing their jaw position would have the opposite effect.

You could rotate the mouthpiece 180 degrees for that.
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