The "smiling" embouchure - advice needed!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by axelo, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. axelo

    axelo Member

    I recently came to think about my embouchure. I've of course noticed it before but never reflected about it like I did this time.

    I have a "smiling" embouchure. I've noticed that I might be the only one in my surroundings that have this and I'm not sure I've ever seen it on another player, actually.

    I talked with a couple of other brass playing friends of mine about it and heard that it might not be the best embouchure. I'm don't know it this is true - or if it is appliable to every brass player - but it made me a little worried. Is my current embouchure in the way for me in my development as a player?

    My current embouchure looks something like this: [​IMG]

    Does anyone know if this kind of look actually prevents me from being the good of a player I could be? I believe I'm a decent player, but I want to be better. And if this is something that stops me, then I want to do something about it. ;)

    Thanks in advance
  2. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    What does your teacher think? If you do not have a teacher, find one and see what they think.

    If you worried that your embouchure "looks different", I wouldn't worry. Everyone is different! If your sound, range, flexibility, stamina is OK (for your current level of playing, based on how much practice you do!! :)), then I would say there is nothing to worry about.

    I'd still say, however, see a teacher and get a professional opinion!

    Good Luck.
  3. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    What David said!!!
  4. worzel

    worzel Member

    My advise would be no unless you absolutely have to. I had to after developing an awful embouchure after coming back from a 20 year break. It was really really difficult to do despite what I was changing from not working at all. If the only problem is that you think it's non standard then there isn't a problem.
  5. axelo

    axelo Member

    I do - kind of - have a teacher but we rarely have lessons as he is my command in the Swedish Army were I currently work as a musician and there is no time for that at the moment. I haven't asked him about it but will do as soon as I get the chance!

    If there is something I believe I really can improve a lot, it's my range. Have some problems at playing low notes and notes above high concert Bb are unreachable, though the Bb itself is relatively good. I don't believe that changing my embouchure is the only solution, I should simply do more exercises that develops my range.

    But I'm glad to hear that it's probably not a problem. I've heard it takes quite a lot of work to redevelop the embouchure and what worse, during that development I guess that your playing skills may fall drastically... if only temporarily ;)
  6. GordonH

    GordonH Member

    I went through an embouchure change a few years ago and it required six months away from playing with anyone else. First three months I was playing almost nothing but Schlossberg exercises and sounding like a ten year old beginner.

    Its not something you should consider without guidance from a good teacher. My problem was efficiency and a lot of the changes were to breathing rather than lip but it took a long time for the lip to get used to its new position.
  7. mark_euph

    mark_euph Member

    I have a similar embouchure in that mine is a smiling one. I've had many teachers comment on this as being the reason for my inability to reach anything higher than D above the stave. I can play relatively low and my sound isn't that bad for the level of band I play in so I refrain from changing it.

    I did once and sounded dire and hit more splashes than an over eager percussionist. I just reverted back and said to myself that what was the point in trying to change as I felt our band had reached it's peak and I wasn't struggling with any music we passed out. That was until Misty was brought out and I had to relinquish the solo to my dep who played a blinder as he could just about play any note above or below the stave.

    I would advise you to change it if you have the time and the interest. It was just going to take me too long and it was something I was not too fussed about.

    Best of luck if you do try to rectify it!
  8. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    Getting an experienced teacher to look at it is a good idea. However, go to someone who has been through embouchure issues themselves in the past. Teachers who themselves have been 'natural' players all their lives may not have the experience you need to fix any problem.

    Before worrying too much about your embouchure have a look to see if it changes as you change register. If it doesn't move then you probably don't have too much of a problem. If however the corners of your mouth stretch further outwards or back towards your ears then maybe you do.

    There are 2 reasons 'smiling' is a problem. Firstly the amount of 'flesh' between mouthpiece and teeth is reduced as the skin of the lips is stretched by the smile. This thinner flesh gets fatigued much more quickly than if you had a more 'inward' embouchure with more flesh between mouthpiece and teeth.

    The second problem relates to the aperture. As you go up the register you want to make this smaller, whilst retaining a buzz. If you have a 'smiling' embouchure the aperture tends to be more oval shaped, a facet which becomes more pronounced and flatter until the aperture is pulled flat/closed. If on the other hand your embouchure pulls inwards at the corners you are more easily able to retain a 'rounder' aperture even as you go up the register thus retaining an open and buzzing hole.

    Having said the above there are exceptions who play very well with smiling embouchures. However best advice for most players is to try and avoid if possible.
  9. axelo

    axelo Member

    Thanks for your post, Mark. I do not have the time right now, but I'll maybe consider it in the future!

    Totally off topic: I believe we've met as I was part of the Swedish Youth Brass Band who played at the gala concert of the NorthWest Music Festival in 2009. I even think that Kim(?) borrowed my baritone for your performance during the competition :cool: you played 'Triptyk' by Sparke I believe. And we even got to visit you during rehearsal!
  10. mark_euph

    mark_euph Member

    Right on all counts Axel! :)

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