Back to basics

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by groovy, Jun 25, 2003.

  1. groovy

    groovy Active Member

    Hello everyone!

    I'm needing a bit of help. After playing for a year with a brace :evil: I tend to have a lot of pressure on my lip. I need to work on my technique to get my embousure back to normal. Any tips?
  2. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    Concentrate on your breathing - this is the single most important thing in brass playing. If you breath well and support the air from the diaphragm you will not need to rely on the lips so much.

    You can play well with a bad embouchure as long as you breath well. You can play badly with a good embouchure if you don't breathe.

    I think a good way to practice your breathing is to get yourself a Denis Wick practice mute (not a silent brass). These mutes are not designed to make you quieter as most people believe but are specifically designed so that when you put enough air through the mute the end of it 'buzzes'. It's hard work pushing this amount of air through the mute but it does work and helps your breathing enourmously.

    You will, I'm sure, get plenty of replies to this thread but my advice would be to focus on the most basic area of all - breathing.

    Good luck with it.
  3. rutty

    rutty Active Member

    What he said ^^^^^ ;)

    Your posture helps your breathing too - sit up straight young man!
  4. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Rutty, how many young men do you know called Katy :?: :?: :?:
  5. blondie

    blondie Member

    After Two years with fixed braces both top and bottom I suffered tremendously as I kept on playing with that wax my dentist gave me. My lips were always bleeding, cut and seriously bruised. But I found that after I had them taken off, just the constant playing helped to create an ideal embouchure.
    I think I'm right in saying (CG will correct me if wrong) when you've had braces and teeth out then you embouchure will change naturally anyway, due to the changes in your mouth.

    Just keep at it, but it does feel weird for a long time afterward.
  6. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    nice one rutty forgot this.

    . .. . what I do is get my students to stand with thier back against a wall (or chair with a very high back, trombonists can use the edge of a door) and put thier head against the wall. Then I ask them to bring thier instrument up and start playing without thier head leaving the wall - try it, it's quite tricky at first!

    Another thing I forgot (there are so many) is to stay relaxed - keep those shoulders down and neck relaxed while breathing.
  7. rutty

    rutty Active Member

    Ooooops :oops:

    All this time, and I thought Groovy was a fella! Sorry Katy ;)
  8. rutty

    rutty Active Member

    I was taught that too - gets the air right down to the bottom of your lungs.
  9. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    One tip I was given was to get hold of a natural trumpet or a post horn (very light) and play it with one hand, the weight of the instrument means that you can't put too much pressure on you lips.

    Since I don't have either I play with one hand (and what I do with the other one is MY buisiness :D ). This helps a bit.
  10. bladder

    bladder Member

    I have a pupil who wears braces and it's helped her reduce embouchure contact pressure. Basically if you press too hard it hurts!!
    As blad (Mike) says breathing and blowing are of paramount importance, and the practice mute 'honking' exercise is invaluable for developing good breathing, blowing and diaphragmatic support.
    There is a simple exercise you can do reduce pressure bit by bit, and it's really straightforward. The hardest thing to realise is that you don't need increase pressure as you climb into the higher register. What you can do is quantify the pressure you're using, you do this by rating your pressure on a scale of 1 - 10. So. if start with a pp bottom C, this would be your lowest pressure, say 2/10. Now slur up to a G, still pp, how much pressure are using now? 3 - 4/10. Repeat this slur a couple of times and see if you do it without pressing harder, it can be done. Remember all the work is done with the air and the embouchure, not arms/hands/shoulders or eyebrows! Once you've got the pressure down for a G, 2/10, repeat again up to C,i.e. C->G->C. Keep doing this pattern all the way up to top C, remember always pp. Hopefully with a bit of work you should be able to reduce the top C pressure from a chop busting 12/10 to say 4-5/10. What you're doing does feel really wierd, just keep trying. Good luck.
    This should help you realise that you don't need pressure for the top stuff. The next step is to keep pressure down while playing loud. For some bizarre reason players press slighty harder to play louder, mad! So, go up the open 'harmonic ladder' as high as you can with low pressure, say top G or C on about 4/10 say. Now crescendo that note to as loud as you can. Don't press harder, blow harder, push more and more air thru embouchure, see Mike's post for more on this. You might experience some intonation difficulties at first, don't worry! Now that you're not busting your chops to play you will gain more fine control over your embouchure making it easier to tune, etc. After some practice you should be able to comfortably play pp - ff from bottom F# - top C without pressing harder than 4/10!!
    If you've mastered that lot try playing 2 octaves of C chromatic up and down, as fast as possible just to make things a bit more interesting. There should be very little change in pressure as you climb, it should feel like you're doing all the work with your air. The idea is that you're too 'busy' with the notes to remember to press!
    I tried this once with some youngsters from MSBB in a rehearsal and this particular young girl was sitting on a top C with absolutely no effort, completely oblivious as to which note she playing. When I informed her which note she was playing, she completely changed her playing, pressing and all sort of bad things and dropped the note. It took a couple of more tries to 'undo' the bad habit/mental stuff and she was soon pumping out the top C's like a demon.
    Hope you find this helpful
  11. groovy

    groovy Active Member

    Thanks everyone, this will all really help.

    Rutty! I'm very insulted - fella indeed. :evil:
  12. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Doesn't the Barbie Avatar give the gender away???????

    Just a thought!

    I'd just re-itterate what Bladder said ... keep the breathing up!!


    hopefully never having to wear braces! :D
  13. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Following that argument, looking for you in the past we should have been looking for a cat and a mouse :!:

    I only hope your trousers don't fall down :lol: :lol: :lol:
  14. amgray

    amgray Member

    Standing against a wall?

    As regards standing up perfectly straight - I've never found this particularly helpful. It seems to restrict diaphragmatic breathing. As a trombone student I was told (by some v. good teachers and players) that a slight forward lean gave more control over the diaphragm. Try it and see what I mean.
    Also keep those arms away from your sides.
  15. bladder

    bladder Member

    Re: Standing against a wall?

    Don't forget to wear oversized shoes!!
  16. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    Re: Standing against a wall?

    ...and it helps you to reach 7th position more easily....

  17. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    Re: Standing against a wall?

    I've also had lessons with top teachers (Denis Wick, Ian Bousfield, Dudley Bright, Lindsay Shilling, Roger Harvey, Chris Mowat, Arthur Wilson, Christian Lindberg to name a few) and none to my knowledge has ever advocated anything other than standing up straight???

    The arms thing is a very good point - some people try to squeeze more air out of thier chest with thier arms :evil:
  18. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Re leaning forward on Trombone, some very good players do on Tenor, particularly when playing high, and it does seem to help. On the other hand, the modern-day Bass Trom responds much better to sitting up absolutely straight and playing out pretty much parallel to the ground - you're playing that much lower in the register that there's very rarely any need for help in playing high.

  19. JessopSmythe

    JessopSmythe Active Member

    When I was a very young 3rd cornet player, one of the old guys in the band told me about the Kneller Hall trick for improving lip techniques.

    Suspend your instrument from the ceiling so that it's able to swing. Now play open notes with your hands behind your back.

    Never tried it myself, but i'm told that regular practice this way gives you the ability to play without any pressure on the lips at all
  20. picju96

    picju96 Member

    I had that demonstrated to me at a summer school a couple of years back, but he held his trumpet by the 3rd valve. He was screaming the top notes, even higher than i had ever heard with no pressure at all. Wouldn't it be brilliant if we could all do that?

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