embouchure problems

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by cjconnor24, May 4, 2005.

  1. cjconnor24

    cjconnor24 Member

    today i went for a trumpet lesson with a highly regarded tutor up here in scotland and he has told me that my embouchure is all wrong and i have to change which has obviously been a bit of a kick in teeth. up until now i have been playing well and getting a great sound however i cant reli argue with him:frown: . i was just wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience...n what kind of timescale it took them to become upto scratch again!

    chris :confused:
  2. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    I'd be a bit wary of someone who wants to totally change your embouchre after just one lesson.

    There is no one "right" embouchre for everyone - your facial bones, lips, teeth, tongue, palate, etc., etc. are different from everyone else's.
  3. Boneman

    Boneman Member

    Same thing happened to me when I was 18 - after playing for 6 years! My new (and first proper) tutor told me that there was only 2 things wrong with my trombone playing - the way I held it and the way I played it (it was said in a light hearted fashion!).

    He got me to totally change my embouchure - it probably took about 3 months to get my 'sound' back - but I strongly feel that this advice has allowed my playing to develop to a level I wouldn't have acheived otherwise, and now I feel indebted to my tutor (a guy called Andy Kemp from Leeds).

    So I would say go for it - it may take some practise - but I'm sure it will be worth it in the long run.
  4. cjconnor24

    cjconnor24 Member

    thanks for your advice (espesh simon:tup you've put ma mind at rest cos i def wnt to try it out!!)

    Robert, i know where your coming from as if it was anyone else who had given me the advice i would have been like "wot do you know anyway", but the gent is one of the top trumpet tutors at the RSAMD in glasgow and for me i think i just have to go with it as it is a career step for.....well hopefully it will b cos at the moment music college's just wont look at me because of my embochure.

    thanks again guys

    (feel free to keep posting, would value any input:tup :p )
  5. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    By all means, follow the tutor's advice if you think he's right. I'm just not sure that one lesson is enough to know exactly what problems you might be having that would require an embouchre change.

    I find it slightly hard to believe that a music college would eliminate someone just because of a non-standard embouchre - there are many fine players who don't have a "standard" embouchre, and there are a number of competing theories about exactly what constitutes a proper embouchre.

    If you do go ahead and make a change, I'd suggest that you go back to the basic studies - haul out your Arban or whatever you use and start with the easy things, gradually building up range on both ends. Discomfort, lip tingling, etc. that feels different from regular "tired lip" is might be a sign that things are not right with the new embouchre. Report that kind of thing to your tutor right away - he sounds like he has the experience necessary to prevent damage during the change.

    I wish you good luck in your studies!
  6. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    I did a gig late last year with a guy who had just recently changed his on advice from a tutor at the RAM in London. Took about 2 to 3 months I think before he was happy, but he really felt it was worth the effort. His was off center which meant he had a ceiling of about high C on his higher register and really struggled on higher pitched trumpets (Eb, D and A/Bb Picc). On the gig, he seemd to be fine to me, played Picc, D and Bb trumpets without too much trouble!

    One of my previous teachers from Ireland teaches at the RSAMD (unless he's quit since I last spoke to him!), Mark O'Keeffe. Stonkin' player and a nice bloke too!!

    Good Luck!

    TIMBONE Active Member

    My embouchure is a little off centre. When I started at the RNCM in 1971, my teacher, Terry Nagle, Principle Tbn Halle Orchestra, suggested that I change my embouchure. I struggled for a year, finding it difficult to get even above a top F (G treble clef). One day, I just decided to go back to where it was most comfortable and secure. At my next lesson, Terry apologised. It was my tooth formation. My suggestion is, try it for two or three months, if there seems to be no improvement, go back to where you are now. I am not saying that your embouchure cannot be changed, it may well be correct to do so, but don't do what I did, and wait a year to reach an outcome.
  8. tim

    tim Member

    The questions you should be asking yourself are:

    1 What is your range like?
    2 Do you like your sound throughout the range?

    If your range is good and your happy with your sound why change? Also I don't think it is true that conservatoires will ignore you for a none conventional embouchure!
  9. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    Good point Tim, I did mean to say that in my post above. The "foundation" of your embouchure is your top teeth, if these aren't straight, your embouchere will reflect this. I don't think that too many teachers take this into account.

    cjconnor24 - can you give us some reasons as to why you need to change? What did the teacher say?
  10. mattster

    mattster New Member

    if you feel comfortable then stick with what you know.
    maybe play in front of a mirror at home,that might help you to see what he is talking about and how much change would be needed.
    i would try warming up on your mouthpeice only with it in a central position on your lips.see how feels.
    go and see someone else get a second opinion.
    just because they are highly regarded doesn't make them good teachers.

    good luck!!

    mattster :tup
  11. Wendy

    Wendy New Member

    I played off centre for years and was having severe intonation problems, (had to play D in first flatter than flat Bb in first for tuning.....(bass clef) )had alright tone and range - but not much point if you aren't in tune. Took about 3 months to sort it out - and about 6 to get back to the range I had. I was dubious - but didn't like the thoughht that however much I practised - I'd always be limited - Still limited - but not due to embochure......
  12. Di

    Di Active Member

    There was an excellent piece of advice from Dr Bob in the British Bandsman about this. The article was titled "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

    I can't put my hand my copy with the article in right now, but someone else remembers it and can say which edition its in, it is worth reading.
  13. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    It's easy for someone like Dr Bob to say something like that anyway, it's just a general common sense comment that can be applied to anything.

    According to the teacher cjconnor24 consulted with, it is broke so it needs fixing!! Maybe cjconnor24 should visit Dr Bob for a second opinion!!
  14. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    I went to a masterclass given by Gordon Higginbottom about 15 years ago, and I'm sure I remember him saying that he has to change his embouchure about every 6 months to a year, due to jaw problems that he has (as I recall - may not be totally correct).

    My teacher also recommended that I change my embouchure as it wasn't idea for playing horn. He was right in retrospect - my endurance was (and still is) very poor. However, this would have apparently meant giving up banding for about 6 months while the change was being made, so I declined his offer. I wish now I had done it, as I have no idea how to do this myself!

  15. Vickitorious

    Vickitorious Active Member

    I had a very highly regarded musician tell me that I ought to change my embouchure after only hearing and seeing me play once. Worried about what lay ahead, I spoke to two other highly regarded musicians, who both asked me a few questions, and said "smile sweetly, say OK and forget you ever heard it"

    Changing it, could break it!
  16. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    There are times when someone can play just about everything on the embouchure they are using, yet if they make an adjustment/change they will be able to play everything more easily/efficiently.
    I am not saying that just because someone says you should do something, you should, but I have seen a large number of embouchures in the brass band world that could be improved upon. The players are often excellent players, but they are fighting against the embouchure they are using, rather than being able to use it more efficiently.
    I have my embouchure adjusted whilst at university. It completely stuffed my playing for about three weeks, after which my playing improved beyond anything I could have imagined.

    My embouchure adjustment did so much for my playing that I am always in the debt of the tutor who recommended and oversaw the adjustment.

    I have seen them work I have seen them fail.
    If you trust the tutor (and they are the one who will be teaching you through this change) then you could stand to benefit greatly.
  17. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Wise words from lots of people here, especially trumpetmike.

    As the keeper of the world's worst embrochure I had a teacher who tried to change it when I was about 14. Trouble was he said "you need to rebuild your embrochure" (I didn't even know what he meant at the time) and told me what to do etc, but when I went back the week after and could hardly play a note he was saying "no, no, no, no, for god's sake this is easy stuff, you obviously haven't practiced, now stop wasting my time and come back when you have" (that is a direct quote - I remember it to this day) this continued for about 3 months with no real improvement, despite my best efforts, until devoid of confidence and hating going to lessons my Mum called my school and told them that I wasn't going anymore. At that point I was on the brink of giving up and had absolutely no confidence in my playing. Bear in mind I had passed my grade six just before I started to attempt changing things.

    What I'm trying to say is, I now realise that he was probably right to try and change my embrouchure, but the way he went about it was totally wrong - he offered me no support with the various struggles I was finding (like range and tone) and was basically a total ******* thoughout. I've no idea if a new embrochure would've made me a significantly better player, I think quite possibly, but it is really like learning to walk again - you need total support of someone to go through it. I didn't get that, which is why I have a crap embrochure now and have to work around any problems that may throw up. In my experience it is not an easy thing to do and you need someone to encourage you.

    I guess I'm rambling but I think you need to consider two things:

    1. Is this guy (assuming its a bloke although I don't know why...) going to be fully supportive though all your self doubts and troubles?
    2. Do you really need to change things? I mean really? If you're looking make a career from playing and your embrochure is really out of kilter the I would give it a go but if its just not quite "text book" then maybe it would be best to wait until you get to uni and see what transpires then.

    Just my thoughts...
    Last edited: May 5, 2005
  18. lewis

    lewis Member

    Not everyone can play with the so called perfect embouchure but changing it doesn't mean that's what your only goal is. I was lucky as Chris Holding taught me when I was 14 and so I had gone through all the hours of mind-numbing practise that is entailed by embouchure changes before I went to music college, but it is very rarely a bad thing to do. I still don't play with perfect chops but I know it wouldn't work half as well as it does if I hadn't changed.

    It will be hard work but like you say if playing is what you want to do then it will be worth it in the long run.

    p.s. I know quite a few people that tried to keep playing with bands and orchestras while changing and it just delayed the process. Take a few months off and do it properly, it will happen so much quicker. Good luck.
  19. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    .... thanks Lewis for mentioning this! Regardless of what you do, ... whether it be music, sport or otherwise ... to rebuild from scratch in any physically supported activity unfortunately means that you will have to take time out to maximise chances of success! Just as important to consider is that there is no guarantee that this success will happen. I wish that some tutors were trained in orthodontic practice as well. I've seen many good potential players' enthusiasm and careers being destroyed when a tutor advocated change without considering physical limitations. :frown:
  20. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Good point, Lewis. The embouchure is the basis of both sound and tuning, so changing it may require re-learning all of this.