Chops reboot for 2015

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by ten left thumbs, Dec 7, 2014.

  1. Hi All, I have just realized after an excellent lesson, that I need a serious rebuild of my embouchure. (Background: adult restarter on cornet, playing for a year now, serious issues getting high notes and dreadful tone if I am foolish enough to attempt them). I understand what I need to do - a change in the angle of the mouthpiece on my lip - and I know it will take time. Naturally, the week before the Christmas concert seems like a bad time to try something new, whereas January feels like the perfect time.

    My teacher has suggested continuing to play, any old way, while doing this. I'm not so sure that's sensible, and I'm wondering if it would be better to stop allowing myself to play the 'bad old' way entirely. I am capable of being exceedingly patient. What do others do while rebuilding chops?
  2. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Find a teacher who will teach you "breathing", not "embouchure"; As a former teacher used to tell me, "if your breathing's right, your chops will do whatever's needed of them without you having to worry about it". People's experience will vary, but personally, I was taught breathing first and foremost, and I'm glad I don't have an embouchure to worry about ...
  3. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    I would have thought that January is just about the worst time for a brass band player to start messing around with their chops. Butlins, and then Areas, and then various others. Of course you may not be in a competing band. Normally, June, July, August are best. That said, I have read about players developing a new setup whilst continuing to play on an old setup.
  4. Er, well, it's not that we've been ignoring breathing, only I think I breathe pretty well, and yet my lips are not in any way doing what is described as 'effective'. Maybe the lip stuff just came naturally to you?
  5. Good to know, thanks. No, it's not a competing band.
  6. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

  7. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Absolutely the opposite; I struggled with all sorts of embouchure issues until I had lessons from someone who focussed almost entirely on breathing. You just learn to "stick it on and blow" ...
  8. TrumpetTom

    TrumpetTom Member

    I had a massive embouchure change two years ago now. I was playing quite downwards with the top rim on my top lip and now i play more towards horizontal (I think) although still downstream like most people because of my teeth and with the top rim above my lip. I went back to learning everything (apart from fingerwork) from scratch and it took months and months before things were natural and I was just as good, over a year I think, I can't remember exactly. During the change I wasn't allowed to play the way I used to.
  9. Tom, you described my problem exactly. I blow right down my chin, and the higher I go the more my lower lip disappears. I didn't realize this wasn't OK. The teacher is saying blow forward (which does make sense) then keep the same embouchure for higher notes. With him there making sure I was at the 'right' angle it felt terribly wrong - it could have been a different instrument. I hope it doesn't take as long as a year, but really it'll take as long as it takes.
  10. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    Be warned, changing your embouchure is a risky thing to do, I know a number of players who have gone through it....if it works it can take many months, many do not make it and then can't even play the way they used to!
  11. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

  12. TrumpetTom

    TrumpetTom Member

    Could be similar, although not sure about the chin thing. I have a vague recollection of my bottom lip disappearing on high notes but was a while ago! I've attached a photo (hopefully) of how it used to look, from when I was in show band at school a few years ago.

    I did my change under John Dickinson when I was at Chetham's so was in a brilliant environment for doing it and under a teacher with loads and loads of experience! The thing about it that knocked me the most was confidence though. I've always had problems with stage fright and nerves but going back into playing properly after I'd had it done, I was the worst I'd ever been. Not sure that's a usual thing though, could've been other factors involved too or I could just be weird :p

    Attached Files:

  13. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    A friend of mine was quite a passable sop player until his teacher got him to change his embouchure - ended up as a very fine tuba player!
  14. Great story Peter! :D

    Tom, that is fairly much the angle I am now trying to avoid, thanks for the photo. As soon as the teacher mentioned it, I recognized what he was talking about. Thing is, if I close my eyes and imagine anyone playing cornet (trumpet, etc) *well*, the angle is straight. The mouthpiece, leadpipe come straight out - as the player plays higher, they don't adjust the angle.

    The thing is, just now, my playing is so very bad and it frustrates me that I can't reach notes I really ought to be able to get, or to maintain notes, or to keep going for a decent length or time. I find playing very tiring. So I feel really like I have nothing to lose.

    Vegasbound, I had a look at the sight, but I'm afraid it doesn't make sense to me yet - things like pivot obviously mean something, but what?
  15. TrumpetTom

    TrumpetTom Member

    Yeah, although as I say most players play down a little bit, because of their teeth. I do because I have an overbite - although have braces at the moment so that could change! My change was to give me better stamina and range. First notes I played whilst relearning were between G and C on the stave and those are still my most natural notes. I struggle with playing low more than I used to I think (I guess with time I could sort this if I took it more seriously though and practiced lots :p) but because of my over bite, was told to lift the trumpet up slightly for low notes, therefore pushing my bottom jaw forward.

    Oh one other downside I found from my change - the bell gets in the way of the music much more often now :p Maybe your change if you decide to do one won't be so drastic, I have friends who've had changes which haven't affected them too much in comparison.

    Whilst it can be really frustrating and depressing, I had some really weird days where I could play super high - G two octaves above the one that sits on the top of the stave :p If my teacher had ever seen that video......

    I'd say you have to have full confidence in your teacher though, because you pass a point where there's no going back, in a big change anyway and it can be quite a big thing.
  16. Ha ha - that these should be my problems. :D

    The thing is, I'm a musician (other instruments) and I don't need cornet for musical gratification. Or confidence, for that matter. If I want to play a tune, there are instruments I can pick up and play. I do like cornet for tone (which I lack) and band (which I'm rubbish at) so I'm in it for the long run. If I can't play it well, I'd rather ditch it and play sax instead.

    I'll have a chat with the teacher in the new year and decide if he's the person for the job.
  17. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    Every player has a point somewhere in their range where a slight shift is made...that is your pivot point! I play similar but not quite as low as Kai Winding, mainly because there is not a huge amount of space between my top lip and nose....
  18. Ah, I see. You know, I think it's a simple matter of adjusting the angle, without getting my protractor out, and reconditioning the body to get used to it. Given I've just built myself up from nothing over the last year, doing it again at a different angle really shouldn't be impossible.
  19. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    As I previously said....Maggio!
  20. Yes you did. I'm afraid I still don't get it.