Correcting A Wonky Embouchure

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by madrich, May 22, 2005.

  1. madrich

    madrich Member

    I've got a wonky embouchure, and always have done. By "wonky" I play that I play, rather than in the centre of my lips with the instrument pointing forward, I play over to the right with the instrument nearly 30 degrees away from straight forward. I'm considering sitting down and finally sorting this out, but from brief experimentation I think its going to take about 6 months to build my lip back up to wear it is now, so I'm slightly concerned that its not going to do me any good.

    Has anyone else got an embouchure like mine who's tried to correct it with any success or failure?
  2. persins

    persins Member

    I've got a suggestion, switch to baritone!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (that is what he did previously!)
    There was a discussion previously on this and I believe that the over riding theme was, as long as you can still play comfortably, the wonkyness isn;t the worst thing in the world. Some did say that it is worth sorting t out but as you expect, it does take time to get back up to standard!!
  3. The Cornet King

    The Cornet King Active Member

    Know how you feel Madrich!
    I've got a strange embochure too, hard to explain, but i play on the left of my mouth after sort of twisting my top lip...

    It developed after having 5 months off because of a lung operation and the result has been crap playing, no stamina etc etc. Like you i tried my old embochure but there's no way i could go back to that without a very healthy spell of lip building.

    Frustrating isn't it! Any bright ideas and i'd like to hear them too. :p
  4. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    No magic answer to this one, its gonna take ages and a lot of dedication / hard work etc etc

    One thing though, if it is working why change it? If you intend on being a superstar then yes I guess it looks better but even some of the best players around have "funny" embouchures. One that springs to mind is Chris Pannell who seems to have a shocking embouchure but boy can he blow that tennor horn
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    ... erm, what's your teeth like? Do you have a cross-bite or something that allows the embouchure to set as it has? Do you find that your range is restricted (... esp. bottom) or that you cannot vary your sound enough? As others have said before, there is no real quick solution (if there is one at all) and it depends on whether a change will benefit your playing or not. Hard decision to make and yes, it will take time (lots building from scratch) and playing in a band may halt any progress you might want to make!
  6. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    ... I had to search hard to find this link from a former (?) UK cornet player who suffered damage to his face in a car accident and subsequently rebuilt his playing after intensive research into the subject of embouchure support. Interesting reading this self-imposed case study ....
  7. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    Go and see a decent teacher, if you don't already have one.

    ANY advice you receive online can only be so useful, because we can't actually see what you are doing, how your natural chops are set up and how you currently sound.
    Before attempting any sort of embouchure change I would strongly recommend going to see a decent teacher - they will be able to give you a good guide as to how the best results might be achieved.
  8. Moy

    Moy Active Member

    First of all I will say "If it 'aint broke don't fix it"
    The problem is that most of us will not admit that there is a problem.

    I changed my embouchure when I was in my 40's and have never regretted it.
    Not only has it made me a better player it has also made me a far better teacher with much more understanding of how things work - and more importantly WHY things don't work.

    My limitations before my embouchure change were mainly range and stamina. The problem was lots of people would say you have a great tone you don't need to change. I did have probs and did need to change.

    The first thing you need is a good teacher to get through the change and the next is loads and loads of patients. If done properly you will never regret it.

    If your tone,range and stamina are all good and you play on a wonky embouchure well leave well alone but be honest and if there are problems try changing.

    Best thing I ever did and no regrets.
    Mind you I had one of the best guiding me all the way - David James. (Ta again - will always appreciate that you have brought back playing and banding to me)
  9. madrich

    madrich Member

    I started playing when I was quite small (about 6) and I had very wonky teeth. My front right tooth stuck out into my mouthpiece and pushed it over to the right. It didn't seem to hold me up at all to start with, I had a lovely tone and did quite well in a couple of local soloist competitions. As I got older things were less rosy, vibrato was extremely difficult and my range was quite limited.

    I switched to the baritone as the mouthpiece was larger and I could play (apparently) centrally without impairment from my teeth. Now I've switched back to cornet and my embouchure has returned to its "pipe smoke" location, dispite having had orthodontic treatment to straighten my teeth. I've only been playing cornet for about 6 months, so its quite difficult to tell if my range and stamina issues are because I haven't been playing long or because of my embouchure. My sound I guess can be described as "adequate" and does appear to be improving. I agree that if it aint broke then it probably shouldn't be fixed, I'm just not totally sure how to tell if its broke or not!!
  10. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    ... maybe we need to get a clearer picture of what happened when you changed back to cornet from baritone. Were you able to get time off to rebuild your cornet playing or were you still actively playing in your band? Did you start with a centralised embouchure and maybe used too much pressure against the teeth to get short-term satisfaction? What made you change back to the older set-up when you already had remedial action on your teeth? Did you have any physical discomfort playing cornet after playing a larger mouthpiece for a while (and how long were you playing baritone) ?? :confused:

    .... this is why it is really important to get an experienced remedial teacher to gauge at first hand possible problems and fixes!
  11. madrich

    madrich Member

    I think the message is "find a decent teacher and see what they think". I need a teacher anyway. Anyone know any in the west london area?

    To answer your question, I played baritone from the age of about 15 up until I went to university (about 20). I didn't really play while at uni (I depped at the odd fete, but that was it). I joined Capital about 6 months ago and went straight onto the cornet and didn't really pay attention to my embouchure. I just noticed about two months ago, when someone pointed it out, that I had reverted to my previous position. Its not at all unconfortable, it just looks really strange and I'm concerned that it may be affecting my performance.
  12. JamesResurgam

    JamesResurgam Member

    Suggest change!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I also subscribe to the "If it 'aint broke don't fix it" school.

    Although I believe you’ve answered your own question by expressing doubts about your own embouchure.
    There are two aspects to be aware of when changing the embouchure; the physical and the psychological; the one can influence the other.
    In the end it’s all about the angles of the teeth and jaws; not bringing the lower jaw too far forward in order to bring the teeth into alignment, and thus producing undue pressure on the jaw joints which can wear and be excruciatingly painful.
    Finally it’s about getting the points of co-ordination perfect, fingers, tongue, chops, and diaphragm. The idea is to become the laziest player possible; maximum results for minimum effort; use the sound like a computer read-out, it gives you all the answers, if you can read it.
    I suggest changing your embouchure should be done under supervision by someone who fully understands the problems; there aren’t too many around I’m afraid. There is a gentleman teaching at Birmingham Conservatoire called Andrew Stone-Fewings I could recommend.
    Good luck, and here’s to a brighter future.

    David James
  13. euphfanhan

    euphfanhan Member

    I started a thread about a similar problem a few months ago, and have come to the following conclusion:

    Give up and learn the piano instead.

    Which is pretty much what I did. Well I could already play the piano, but I'm a hell of a lot better now I've stopped practising euph! But if you're not a quitter like me, I would say unless theres a problem with your sound, don't bother changing. When somebody pointed out the problem to me I didn't really see what the fuss was about, but since then a teacher at my school who used to play euph for top section bands, pointed out that I change the position of my mouth for high notes, which means I am completely incapable of doing slurs of more than an octave! I'm trying to get it sorted, but it's incredibly difficult, having to consciously think about every note I play. Anyway, don't let me put you off! Good luck and let me know if you manage it :D
  14. FlugelD

    FlugelD Member

    Aged 14 (early 70's....:rolleyes:) I literally received a kick in the teeth that caused some dental damage, and was fixed (courtesy of the Dental Hospital) with a steel crown.

    Result? Trumpet moved from straight ahead to about 45 degrees right - 3 months before my O-grade practical. Nice.

    Lots of practice (and a clarinetist as examiner!) saw me through the exam - I'd sounded like a constipated frog, and had a range of about an octave until a matter of only days before the practical exam.

    Two months before Higher grade practical (a year later - think Scottish exam board here...) the metal crown was replaced with a 'cutout' crown with white fillers at the front - 'It looks more natural'. Trumpet went 45 degrees left, sound/range returned to... as above.

    More work, and a pianist as examiner for the practical. (He made me play all 3 pieces all the way through - unheard of! - but no-one else he'd heard had attempted Badinage or the Arban study at that speed.... And he only asked for two (easy) scales)...

    Since then, I've played sop, cornet (almost all seats....), tenor horn, baritone, euph, Eb bass, and back to flugel, twice (where I started). My embouchure has always been 'where it feels comfortable', and, excluding sop (I was keech...) has always produced a decent sound. Stamina has always been a problem, especially on smaller instruments (and not so much on bass), but I'll be honest - I should practice more.

    The point of my history? -

    1) Should you really be on cornet? Horn/euph/bari may be more suitable.

    2) Changing to a 'correct' embouchure is possible, but the younger the better, and it'll take time, probably months.

    3) My current conductor listened to my moans about lack of stamina, and said 'It ain't broke - leave tutti parts to tutti players, play when you're heard'. His trumpet tutor at RSAMD was David James - see above. Does for me!

    4) Some people seem to be 'natural' back row players, range from bottom G up for two octaves, forget the rest. The basis of a good cornet section! (And as important as the flash sods on the front row :biggrin: )

    IMHO, the most important thing is, are you enjoying yourself??? We can't all be Jim Shepherd, Phil McCann, Roger Bennet, whoever - are you happy doing your best for your band?

    Whatever you do, best of luck - I've been there!!!
  15. You have received some great replies there - but maybe this may help...

    Try buzzing the mouthpiece only - and find the spot where the MP buzzes best - that could be your best playing position - when MP connects to the instument.
  16. mr.forde

    mr.forde Member

    Most baritone players swich well to euphoneium or bass ide go for bass men play bass euphoniums are for girls who carnt hack propper basses
  17. Darth_Tuba

    Darth_Tuba Active Member

  18. mr.forde

    mr.forde Member

    Alot of trumpet player find it easy to swap to a tenor horn, but i wouldnt addvise it. The trumpet is a great instroment for a band its better than a cornet
  19. madrich

    madrich Member

  20. JamesResurgam

    JamesResurgam Member

    Suggest change

    From the photo, I suspect you have a problem with both the top and bottom register; I deduce this from the fact there is too little bottom lip in the mouthpiece and the muscle in the bottom lip is bunching. You probably have a problem with stamina and production as well; not being able to control the start of a phrase, especially quietly.
    I see you work for Auntie, try contacting trumpet section of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, (I can still remember my BBC No, five digit starting with 99, I am an old f**t) If no luck there contact Colin Clegue at English National Opera, he would be able to help.
    Finally, I do think a change would be for the better. If not an embouchure, then change to a much bigger instrument and be careful not to fall into the traps you’ve done so far. Sorry to be so direct.

    David James

    P.S. Remember playing should be fun, with a capital "F".

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