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Let's share some positive embouchure change stories


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seilogramp
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hibidogrulez wrote:
You could rotate the mouthpiece 180 degrees for that.


Tried that. Didn't really work for me.


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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha!

But seriously, a couple of folks earlier talked about making changes to their jaw position. There is an approach that it’s better to keep the student’s attention off the jaw, so that can be corrected by raising the horn angle instead (assuming the student will ultimately play better this way). There is some merit to this approach, but it depends on the context.

My point, and maybe Steve’s from earlier, is that whether or not the student should be worrying about the jaw or anything else is different from the teacher’s understanding. Too often we take the approach of throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks. It might end up helping, but you also might have a big mess to clean up afterwards.

Dave
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wilktone wrote:
... There is an approach that it’s better to keep the student’s attention off the jaw, so that can be corrected by raising the horn angle instead (assuming the student will ultimately play better this way). ...

----------------------------------------------------
With that approach, would the teacher be instructing (or discussing) how mouthpiece rim pressure is to be distributed between the upper and lower lips?

Is it reasonable to change horn angle without any concern about rim pressure distribution?

Jay
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JayKosta wrote:
With that approach, would the teacher be instructing (or discussing) how mouthpiece rim pressure is to be distributed between the upper and lower lips?

Is it reasonable to change horn angle without any concern about rim pressure distribution?


Jay, I prefer to explain both the angle and jaw position/pressure distribution together. In my opinion it's better for musicians to have a more complete and accurate understanding of playing mechanics than to ignore it.

That said, it is contextual. Some teachers, for whatever reason, don't want to tell their students how to play. Raising the horn angle could also bring the lower jaw forward (or the reverse, if that's what's needed) without needing to bring attention on what the jaw is doing. If that's what works best in the moment then I think it's fine.

Many of my students are education majors or already music teachers. Many other music students will take on private students at some point in their career, or even just offer advice on the internet to other musicians. For that reason, I think it's best to teach that more complete understanding.

Dave
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wilktone wrote:
...
Jay, I prefer to explain both the angle and jaw position/pressure distribution together. In my opinion it's better for musicians to have a more complete and accurate understanding of playing mechanics than to ignore it.

That said, it is contextual. Some teachers, for whatever reason, don't want to tell their students how to play. Raising the horn angle could also bring the lower jaw forward (or the reverse, if that's what's needed) without needing to bring attention on what the jaw is doing. If that's what works best in the moment then I think it's fine.

Many of my students are education majors or already music teachers. Many other music students will take on private students at some point in their career, or even just offer advice on the internet to other musicians. For that reason, I think it's best to teach that more complete understanding.

Dave

--------------------
Dave, thank you for the response. And I certainly agree that teachers should have the 'more complete understanding' - and I hope it is passed-on to the future teachers.

Jay
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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

.raise hand

Since you've never seen me play, I guess you could technically say your record is unbroken but I made an embouchure and mechanics change that made a huge difference.

Along with changing my placement from a bit off-center to centered I also altered my central incisors shortening them probably 2 mm or so to match the lateral incisors.

It also involved re-focusing the use of the muscles, awareness of and focus on the teeth opening and alignment with the lips with the teeth, pressure distribution, how I place the mp on the lips and finding a mp that works better for me.


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PH
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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

.raise hand

Since you've never seen me play, I guess you could technically say your record is unbroken but I made an embouchure and mechanics change that made a huge difference.

Along with changing my placement from a bit off-center to centered I also altered my central incisors shortening them probably 3 mm or so to match the lateral incisors.

It also involved re-focusing the use of the muscles, awareness of and focus on the teeth opening and alignment with the lips with the teeth, pressure distribution, how I place the mp on the lips and finding a mp that works better for me.


It seems obvious that if the landscape and aerodynamics of your mouth changes your old embouchure will be null and void. To me, this doesn't really count even though it clearly is an embouchure change. It's almost more like a transplant and recovery!
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PH wrote:
To me, this doesn't really count even though it clearly is an embouchure change. It's almost more like a transplant and recovery!


I think you hit on the reason why this is such a difficult topic to discuss. Other folks posted earlier about their embouchure changes and described things that, to me, didn't really seem that significant or were really about changing another aspect of playing technique. We all end up moving the goalpost around to suit our own ideas, but in a different context they could be a significant change.

I would like to think that if we were able to sit down in person over a beverage I could convince you of the value of embouchure analysis. I suspect that our ideas are very much aligned in most areas, but my academic interest in brass embouchure technique provides me with some background that you may not have. Keep in mind, that it also gives me a bias, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

JayKosta wrote:
With that approach, would the teacher be instructing (or discussing) how mouthpiece rim pressure is to be distributed between the upper and lower lips?


I wanted to go into more detail about why I suggested that there's some merit to getting a student to bring the jaw forward by raising the horn angle. If you have about 15 minutes, check out this podcast about focus in golf.

https://soundcloud.com/golf-science-lab/18-what-every-golfer-ought-to-know-about-focus-with-dr-gabriele-wulf

A quick summary: With an external focus (further outside the body) a golfer learns faster than with an internal focus. The more expert the golfer, the further away the external focus the better. With novice golfers, the focus needs to be brought closer to the internal, but golf coaches can be creative in ways to create the internal correction (more weight on the left foot) while giving instructions that put the student's focus on the external (push off the ground on your left side).

For the specific example of moving a student's jaw position forward (again, assuming that this is correct for the specific student), there are different ways you can achieve the results you want.

"Protrude your lower jaw forward until your teeth are close to aligned." A pretty internal focus. This is, at its heart, the specific mechanical goal the teacher is trying to fix.

"Raise your horn so that the bell is pointed at the X on the wall." Completely external. Provided that the trumpet student is experienced enough to intuit that the jaw must come forward to support the embouchure, this might be the best approach. However, it's easy to think of scenarios where a student might not subconsciously get to what we want, so we bring the focus closer to the internal.

"Push the lower rim of the mouthpiece forward with your lower teeth until you see the bell of your trumpet point at the X on the wall." There's still some focus internally, but the attention is ultimately directed outward.

Notice that in all of the hypothetical examples the goal remained the same, but the instructions were different. None are better than the other, it really depends on the context.

One valid question is whether or not our students need to know this background information. Many students just want to know how to play better and get on with their performing. Other students are planning on becoming professional teachers. Most serious students will go on to do some of both. Obviously it depends on the context. Since this is the pedagogy forum, I think we can agree that the actual details are important to discuss, irrespective of the suggestions we're giving our students.

Here are two brass musicians that volunteered to be subjects in one of my embouchure studies. They both happened to have different major issues in their embouchure technique that can be seen and heard in the following videos. If you know what to look for, you will probably see them right away. If you're unfamiliar with what actually goes on with a functioning brass embouchure, you might end up focusing on something more minor.


Link



Link


Here are some clues. The first is that the tubist's embouchure problem is noticeable with the transparent mouthpiece, but the trumpet player's issue is related to something that you wouldn't need a transparent mouthpiece to spot (in fact, if you know what you're looking at you could figure out what's going on with the tubist without the transparent mouthpiece too, but it would take a little controlled experimentation). I'll also say up front that you can find issues with the mouth corners or jaw in these players, but the things I'm hoping you'll notice are related to something else.

What do you feel is the most important correction these particular players needed to make? How would you suggest it to a student that needed a more external focus?

Dave
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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

.raise hand

Since you've never seen me play, I guess you could technically say your record is unbroken but I made an embouchure and mechanics change that made a huge difference.

Along with changing my placement from a bit off-center to centered I also altered my central incisors shortening them probably 3 mm or so to match the lateral incisors.

It also involved re-focusing the use of the muscles, awareness of and focus on the teeth opening and alignment with the lips with the teeth, pressure distribution, how I place the mp on the lips and finding a mp that works better for me.


It seems obvious that if the landscape and aerodynamics of your mouth changes your old embouchure will be null and void. To me, this doesn't really count even though it clearly is an embouchure change. It's almost more like a transplant and recovery!

Lol - well, if my embouchure change doesn't count as an embouchure change, someone else for your consideration is Doc. Going by photographic evidence his placement in his younger days was closer to a 2/3 upper, over time he made an obvious change to an approx 1/3 upper. It seems clear he raised the level of the horn as well. While most would probably be giddy to have the chops he displayed at *any* point in his professional career going back to his late teens, he was dissatisfied with his range. I don't believe he had a double C range in the mid-1950's, by the mid-late 1960's he did.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wilktone wrote:
PH wrote:
To me, this doesn't really count even though it clearly is an embouchure change. It's almost more like a transplant and recovery!


I think you hit on the reason why this is such a difficult topic to discuss. Other folks posted earlier about their embouchure changes and described things that, to me, didn't really seem that significant or were really about changing another aspect of playing technique. We all end up moving the goalpost around to suit our own ideas, but in a different context they could be a significant change.

I would like to think that if we were able to sit down in person over a beverage I could convince you of the value of embouchure analysis. I suspect that our ideas are very much aligned in most areas, but my academic interest in brass embouchure technique provides me with some background that you may not have. Keep in mind, that it also gives me a bias, so take what I say with a grain of salt. ...


I know we would agree about many things. I believe the things Doc Reinhardt has written in his various books is probably the very best and most insightful diagnosis of how the embouchure works and how the various physical types differ. I'm not sure Doc would have actually put anyone through the dreaded "embouchure change" either. Rather, he would have shown a struggling player how to work with their natural gifts instead of trying to do what other people insist is the "proper way to play." Again, to me, that isn't an embouchure change.
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scottfsmith
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The meaning of embouchure change has itself changed. In the bad old days it seems like some teachers didn’t like the look of certain embouchures and forced students to change for no other reason than it didn’t look like what they were used to. I have heard plenty of stories how this kind of thing did not end well at all.

Today I think there are more and more teachers that know how to break down the embouchure into components and help students improve their playing with a series of embouchure tweaks. I myself had a pretty bad embouchure a few years ago, but lessons with a teacher that understands embouchures I managed to make huge tone, range and endurance improvements.

Here were some things I was doing very wrongly that got pointed out to me by my teacher and which I fixed, one by one.

1. I had a huge amount of lower lip above the bottom teeth, from previous trombone playing. Really bad idea on a trumpet! For quite awhile I had to carefully check that and adjust by pushing my lips up/down so only a small amount of lip was over the teeth every time I set up my embouchure. But it eventually became natural.
2. I was pushing too hard against the mouthpiece to force high notes.. this is more a symptom of a bad embouchure, fix the embouchure and you don’t need to push.
3. I was more thinking of pushing my lips together and blowing harder for high notes, not making my face into a stretched “drum head” to help flatten the lips against the teeth as I played higher. Now I focus on getting a nice tight drum-head look and to make sure I use the upper cheek muscles (“sneer”).
4. I was not closing my jaw much as I went higher. Now I close it quite a bit and can play pp high C’s no problem.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PH wrote:
Again, to me, that isn't an embouchure change.

It could be helpful to the discussion if you explained what woul be an embouchure change to you. Maybe we mean different things when we talk about embouchure.
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Trumpetingbynurture
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wilktone wrote:



Link



Link



Tuba player is type switching.

Trumpet player is fighting the embouchure movement with the mouthpiece. I'm not sure from the video which motion is better but seeing as it's ascending to the upper register they have problems with, it looks to me like they need to pull down to ascend and for some reason are resisting doing so. They're okay descending (pushing up), but ascending the mouthpiece movement and the embouchure movement are working against each other.

Am I in the right ballpark?
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PH wrote:
Again, to me, that isn't an embouchure change.


Patrick, with due respect you keep moving the goalpost around with your preferred definition of "embouchure change." Earlier you wrote that you've never seen a conscious embouchure change end up as a positive experience, but after a few folks have posted their success stories you defined their experiences as not an "embouchure change."

What about my experience moving my mouthpiece placement from more centered with more upper lip inside to the placement that you can see in my photograph from earlier? Does that count?

Quote:
I'm not sure Doc would have actually put anyone through the dreaded "embouchure change" either. Rather, he would have shown a struggling player how to work with their natural gifts instead of trying to do what other people insist is the "proper way to play."


Even were that true, which I doubt, your point about working with one's own natural inclinations requires some changes in some circumstances. The two videos I posted above are two examples. Both those players have issues in their embouchure form and function that are hindering their abilities to play. Since you reference Reinhardt and his writings on embouchure you probably know what embouchure characteristics aren't working correctly with those players. How would you go about deciding which "change" is correct for these players and how would you make that correction without making it a conscious change?

Trumpetingbynurture wrote:

Tuba player is type switching.

Trumpet player is fighting the embouchure movement with the mouthpiece. I'm not sure from the video which motion is better but seeing as it's ascending to the upper register they have problems with, it looks to me like they need to pull down to ascend and for some reason are resisting doing so. They're okay descending (pushing up), but ascending the mouthpiece movement and the embouchure movement are working against each other.

Am I in the right ballpark?


Your closer than the ballpark.

If you watch the position of the tubist's lips very carefully inside the mouthpiece you'll see that he flips the air stream direction around for different ranges. In his lower register is lower lip predominates and the air stream is directed up. In the upper register, however, the upper lip predominates and his embouchure switches to a downstream embouchure. Watch and listen to him play at and around that break point and you'll notice that he often cracks the notes there.

So what should this tubist do to make fix this? A further hint is that there are two opposite things to try our to see what is going to work better for this musician's natural inclinations.

As far as the trumpet player struggling in his higher register, here is another video of two different trumpet players who both have well functioning embouchures. If you look closely, you can see that they are doing something (correctly) in the opposite manner.


Link


Both those musicians are playing consistently the same way, within their natural tendencies instead of fighting against it. The first trumpet player is fighting against his tendencies.

Similar to the tubist, there are a couple of opposite embouchure technique things that trumpet player needed to try out before we could determine what he should be doing. What would you try with that player?

Dave
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Steve A
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wilktone wrote:


Both those musicians are playing consistently the same way, within their natural tendencies instead of fighting against it. The first trumpet player is fighting against his tendencies.

Similar to the tubist, there are a couple of opposite embouchure technique things that trumpet player needed to try out before we could determine what he should be doing. What would you try with that player?

Dave


I'm interested in this, but I'll be honest, I spent quite a bit of time reading on your Embouchure 101 series yesterday and watched the videos, and am clearly missing something important. Specifically, I'm confused by the discussion of embouchure motion, and not not seeing what motion you're referring to in these videos. (I mean, I'm seeing lots of things moving, but am not recognizing the up/down, left/right motions, or their significance.)

Have you explained this in more depth somewhere else, or would you be willing to expand a bit on exactly what is moving in the embouchure motion you're referring to? Thanks!
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Trumpetingbynurture
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2020 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woo - glad I was on the right track. It's been years and years since I saw borrowed the Reinhardt Encyclopaedia from a college library but I guess some of it stuck.

For the tuba player, I'd probably say to see if they can keep the lower lip from protruding forward in the lower register, as their upper register seems to work best as with the air travelling downwards. I expect if they could play higher with the lower lip protruded they probably wouldn't be switching.

For trumpet player I'd just ask them to try pulling the mouthpiece down while the ascend and see if there is any immediate improvement. If not, I'd probably ask if they have always placed the mouthpiece in its current position or if they had consciously moved it at some point. I wouldn't be surprised if the mouthpiece placement has been changed at some point and it's now higher than is optimal. If it had been consciously moved, I would make sure they are playing with a wet mouthpiece rim and/or maybe put a small amount of Vaseline on the rim and then ask them to play some more slurs and see if the mouthpiece settles somewhere else.
My guess is it has been moved higher than it once was and is no longer sitting in a good 'groove' with the teeth. But it's possible they actually need to do the opposite and go to a higher placement and then change the motion for the descending.
My intuition based on the video is that the mouthpiece is too high and the correct movement is down to ascend, but if they tried that and it didn't work, then you have eliminated 1 of 2 options really.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hibidogrulez wrote:
PH wrote:
Again, to me, that isn't an embouchure change.

It could be helpful to the discussion if you explained what woul be an embouchure change to you. Maybe we mean different things when we talk about embouchure.


scottfsmith wrote:
...In the bad old days it seems like some teachers didn’t like the look of certain embouchures and forced students to change for no other reason than it didn’t look like what they were used to. I have heard plenty of stories how this kind of thing did not end well at all. ...


In my experience, Scott describes EXACTLY what people have always meant when discussing an "embouchure change." Everything else I have seen people describe on here is what I refer to as an "evolution." If you practice the right things (for you) in the proper way, your embouchure will inevitably look different and work differently over time. I suspect this is exactly what has happened in the above mentioned anecdote about Doc S. I have never heard any stories of him going throuigh an "ambouchure change," and I know quite a few people who know him really well.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2020 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a player who is not getting regular lessons or 'observation' about embouchure, the process towards improvement needs several factors (and similar is needed for a teacher in order to help a student):

1) the realization that something is not working - and that more 'practice' likely won't solve the problem.

2) analysis of what mechanical actions aren't happening.
E.g. lips are being restricted so they cannot vibrate, inappropriate lip usage to produce the desired pitch, inability to produce enough internal air pressure to get air flow.

3) determining what changes are needed to produce the needed mechanical actions.
It could be that the player isn't doing enough of the 'right stuff' to produce the needed actions, or it could be that the player is doing something that inhibits the action.

Jay
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Trumpetingbynurture
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't post about it, but I used to play in the red of the top lip with the bell pointed at the floor. It worked fine but had some significant limitations.

I moved the mouthpiece up. It took a long while then for it to settle in.

On the other hand, I can now put my mouthpiece on virtually any position on my lips and play decently Low C to High C, low, high, left, right, protruded or receded jaw, upstream or downstream.
I have my default which is where I naturally end up at if I don't think about my face and just play, but if I wanted to change my embouchure consciously I'm confident I could. However, I don't think changing would add anything of value.

If you are aware of you embouchure feeling generally, you can often find some way of simplifying the change. For example, if I think of hugging the top teeth with my top lip, I end up with an upstream embouchure. If I just keep 5% of my attention on that feeling, then playing that way is not a big deal (although doesn't confer any obvious immediate advantage).
I can move the mouthpiece up and set it in the red of the lower lip, and play that way too, but I have a crooked lower tooth, so playing that way is uncomfortable as.the rim pushes the lip against the corner of the protruding tooth.

It seems to me your idea of an 'embouchure change' is just 'any change to the embouchure that doesn't work'
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At the end of 2006, I started my battle with dystonia. I was eventually diagnosed formally by a neurological team at the Houston Medical Center as well as by a brass embouchure specialist that had at the time already worked with over 120 dystonia clients. I was also later included in a study at the University of Houston in partner with Performing Arts Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital, where my playing was video recorded. I am not certain what came of that study, being consumed mainly with surviving as a player and supporting my family. In addition I sought help from various sources, including Dave Wilken (aka Wilktone), a contributor to this thread and pioneer in compiling videos and discussing brass embouchure development in light of the Reinhardt Method, and Rich Willey, TrumpetHerald.com Moderator for the Reinhardt Method and who had studied directly with Doc Reinhardt for eight years.

One of the biggest and most positive changes I've made was within the past year in being able to consistently employ something that Dave Wilken showed me over ten years ago in a private video chat and later confirmed in private lesson time with Rich Willey. Dave had analyzed my Embouchure Type, according to his Reinhardt Method training, and encouraged me to move the mouthpiece downward and at a slight angle as I moved downward in the register, but then to move in the opposite direction when ascending. He said that over time, the movement would minimize considerably, and it has. For those who are unfamiliar, this is where the mouthpiece and chops are considered “one,” and the player is to manipulate change of the (mpc/chop) position on the teeth as you change registers. Dave and Rich can better explain this in follow-up posts to this thread or direct you to online resources. I do remember them saying that for some players, all of this is exactly the reverse…it all depends on the Embouchure Type. Getting with a Reinhardt specialist is the only way I know for this to happen. At some point, I learned that Reinhardt, who called this his “Pivot System,” later regretted using that term, since so many people confused “pivot” with “horn angle change.” I know that is what I had always thought when someone said to “pivot."

Since working with both Dave and Rich, I've had my bite opened up and teeth straightened through an Invisalign process and also had a frenectomy, where the tissue holding the tongue to the base of the mouth was surgically cut to permit more tongue movement. The former was done to open up my bite, having been frustrated for years with a sound that wasn't as full as many of my fellow orchestrally-trained colleagues; the latter was done after I was diagnosed by my Pankey dentist as being tongue-tied. I believe my sound is bigger than before, and my single tonguing is now somewhat faster when I play, but mostly my tongue is freer to obtain more varied articulations.

In the process of recovery, I found myself using two chop settings, one that would take me from the low register to about E above high C, and the other setting that could take me well above DHC; however, I did not have control with this high-note setting when it came to solid starts in the middle to low registers.

Over the past few years, I was occasionally getting with a former college student of mine, who could see and hear the positive developments with the high-note setting, and he encouraged me to continue to work on it. I also received similar encouragement from Allen Cox, retired tpt prof, Vanderbilt Univ, when I made a trip to Nashville in Oct. 2016 to have Roy Lawler build a tpt for me prior to his retirement that Dec. In Nov. 2018, I made the decision to only use the high-note setting and abandon using the low-note setting.

While I'm still working for more consistency with low note starts, for the most part all of that is almost totally dependable, plus, I can do some things on the horn that I could never do before, like, play three-octave G major scales with one set and in one breath, tongued or slurred, and move up to DHC and DHD most of the time from there…all with the same chop setting. I can do this on large and small mouthpieces, Bach 1B to 3C to Warburton 4E (Bach 3E size) and smaller. I sincerely thank you, Dave, Rich, Zach, Allen, and many others, for your part in this!

The following demo is on a recently-acquired CarolBrass 4344L-YLT (.470 bore) with an ACB MV3C

https://www.dropbox.com/s/idp5x3tk0rzr60t/3.5%20octave%20G%20major%20scale%20and%20arp%20on%20CB%204344L.mov?dl=0

Oh, and I almost forgot to include: Hallelujah, Jesus!
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