View Full Version : Embouchure and playing other instruments

Hilary Mateer
27.04.2003, 12:59
Do you think that playing another wind instrument can adversely affect your embouchure?
I have just got back from Church where I play clarinet in the worship group and I think that if anything it strengthens my embouchure and is certainly so different from bass that it doesn't do any harm

My conductor who teaches me EEb bass is against me playing any other instrument, he knows about me playing clarinet but I usually keep quiet about guesting for other bands on BBb bass as I also get into trouble for that.

I know that music students often play several different instrument to a high standard so it obviously isn't thought to do them any damage.

What is your experience?

27.04.2003, 13:03
hmmm, it really does depend on the instruments involved, for example, while playing sop one week, then Bbb bass the next is possible, and i've seen it done, I think it would have an adverse affect on both instruments, whereas playing EEb bass one week, and clarinet the next should have little negative difference. while playing clarinet may or may not strengthen your muscles, it will give them a rest, which will allow them to rebuild etc, and become stronger.

27.04.2003, 14:28
I also play clarinet too, it uses different muscles to a brass instrument, so in a way it shouldn't affect brass playing, it shoud give the muscles a rest, as Neil said.

By the way like the addition to the avatar!

27.04.2003, 14:37
I think it is a brass band falacy about embertoures. The army bands throw players all over the shop and they cope no problem. There are several players who can play brass and woodwind and they tend to do a better job than others who just stick to brass.

satchmo shaz
27.04.2003, 16:40
I say do it if you want to! life is too short!, I'm sure you can adapt. I know people who successfully play woodwind and brass!

27.04.2003, 17:23
Many people get their knickers in a twist over this issue. As far as I can see, if you have a decent understanding of what you're doing to produce the sound, and you're thinking about what is different and what is similar when you play a new instrument, you are very unlikely to run into problems. I suspect a person adding a new instrument that gets into difficulties does so because they've suddenly reduced the amount of time they spend on their first instrument. You've just got to be clear in your own mind as to what you're doing/trying to do; so in this way, trying two brass instruments at different ends of the pitch spectrum might allow you to differentiate more clearly than trying two that were close together. A Bass player bruising their lip by jamming a Cornet into their teeth will still hae a knackered lip on Bass though!


27.04.2003, 22:41
I play flute as well as brass and if anything, playing brass has helped my flute playing enormously - much more breath control and tone production is easier - probably cos you make more of a seal on brass instruments!

Rach x

You wanna blow my what?
28.04.2003, 01:22
I used to play sax. I got to grade 4 and could have gone higher.

I think quitting sax helped me, but at the end of the day I could have continued with French Horn, Tenor Horn and sax and been perfectly happy.

28.04.2003, 08:20
My conductor who teaches me EEb bass is against me playing any other instrument, he knows about me playing clarinet but I usually keep quiet about guesting for other bands on BBb bass as I also get into trouble for that.

As someone whose first instrument is saxophone, I have never had any major problems with embouchure, having played all instruments in the band from tenor horn down at various times. Thinking about others I know who double on brass and woodwind, I wonder if it is significant that most of the reed players seem to be bass or euphonium players, whereas I know a number of flautists who also play cornet - we had a flute solo in our service last night played by one of our solo cornettists.

The only thing I wish is that, when I am asked to play saxophone on a band programme, a little consideration is given as to whereabouts it is placed. A number of times I have been asked to play a solo immediately after a heavy-blowing band piece, that does not give you any time to adjust, or to ensure the instrument is properly warmed-up.

Incidentally, the most varied evening I have been asked to do was at a Salvation Army Junior School of Music some years ago. They had asked those of us who were there as sergeants to help out on the bass section so I was playing BBb, with Ray Wheaton, then playing cornet in the ISB, on EEb. When they put the "A" band together there were three very good horn players, and then a big drop in standard, so they decided to put two on solo horn and one on first, with one of the tutors helping out on first and me on second. When the final programme came round, I was playing BBb in the individual and massed bands, 2nd horn in the"A" band, and a saxophone solo as well!

28.04.2003, 12:15
Hi Hilary,

I used to play flute and was told that i should never mix brass and woodwind but i never had any problems. It's a completely different kind of embouchure for woodwind because there's little/no physical pressure on the upper lip. I'm not sure that mixing brass is a good idea because of the different pressure distribution of varying size mouthpieces (spot the scientist...)

I didn't give up flute because of embouchure problems, just because i was rubbish! Keep going with clarinet, if anything it should compliment your bass playing!


04.05.2003, 01:41
My daughter plays tenor horn and her teacher wants her to play french horn as well, but someone told me it could effect her embouchure because of the different mouthpiece, so not sure what to do now

You wanna blow my what?
04.05.2003, 01:49
Mel, I'd say give it a shot. It's not bad for all people. And if she does want to continue French Horn, she could always use a shank. I didn't want to use a shank on the tenor horn until I was sure that french horn is what I wanted to do :)

Ps, ex principal of NYBBW uses a shank, she obviously has no problems!

04.05.2003, 16:20
I had a friend at school that took up the Euphonium in order to join the brass band, which was far and away the coolest music group in the school. She was an oboe player at the time and great disasters for her more than competent playing ability on that instrument were predicted. In the event, she turned out to be a pretty good euph player and her oboe playing improved no end. Not quite sure of the reason why, as oboe players need pretty breath control anyway - I tried to play one once and I swear the b**dy thing was attempting to blow back!

04.05.2003, 16:42
if you can adjust to the french horn mouthpiece aswell as a tenor horn mouthpiece then thats fine...
i would avoid playing tenor horn on a french horn mouthpiece with adapter.. as.. although it works so to speak, it leaves you with a harsh sound and production.

04.05.2003, 18:41
...and you would know all about harsh sound and production Aidan! :wink:

You just make it too easy sometimes, you really do!

04.05.2003, 19:08
hahah shh fp

04.05.2003, 23:32
My sister is a bit of a swot......she always used to play the flute, she decided this wasn't enough so started to learn other woodwind instruments (clarinet, sax etc). Then she thought she'd follow me and have a go at a brass instrument so she came to band one night. She now plays Solo Euphonium for a First Section band. She doesn't have any adverse effects from playing the variety of instruments she does....I think she enjoys the change. I find it really annoying though......!!!

05.05.2003, 20:29
Be all that as it may you two, if one can do it one can. If not, one cant.

Bit obvious really. My daughter seems to swap between clarinet and Cornet OK, I swap too bewteen various and the difference seems to be a) how much of a "brass bandsman" one is (its a mind thing) and b) how much one practices.

To me anyway, thats how it appears.


07.05.2003, 04:56
I play a variety of instruments ....

* Eb Bass (reading Treble Clef) in a Brass Band
* Eb Bass (reading from Bb Bass parts in Bass Clef) in the same Brass Band when Bb Bass players are missing
* BBb tuba, CC tuba, Eb tuba and/or F tuba (Bass Clef) in an orchestra
* Valve Trombone (Bass Clef) filling in in a Brass Quintet
* Tenor Trombone with F Attachment (Bass or Tenor Clef) in an orchestra

I found out on Monday that in an orchestra concert later this month, in addition to conducting two numbers (while the regular conductor plays the piano), I will also be playing BBb tuba, Bass Trombone and Euphonium on other numbers.

The embouchure isn't the problem, it's getting all those fingerings confused! :shock:

You wanna blow my what?
08.05.2003, 10:57
if you can adjust to the french horn mouthpiece aswell as a tenor horn mouthpiece then thats fine...

You can't.

i would avoid playing tenor horn on a french horn mouthpiece with adapter.. as.. although it works so to speak, it leaves you with a harsh sound and production.

It's only a brass band :P

08.05.2003, 12:02
As a french horn player who moved back to tenor horn I agree you can't play on both mouthpieces. the embouchure is v different... however for me the biggest problem is the different fingering....get it all muddled up!!!!

You wanna blow my what?
08.05.2003, 18:03
I don't get the fingering muddled any more! I see them as different instruments with different hands!

08.05.2003, 18:11
Why not different lips as well, if you see what I mean?


You wanna blow my what?
08.05.2003, 18:29
Because you can't change the muscle shape that easily.

I actually had no problem, but changed to using a shank just in case.

08.05.2003, 18:34
if you can adjust to the french horn mouthpiece aswell as a tenor horn mouthpiece then thats fine...

You can't.

A guy I know who now plays horn for the LSO could do this easily :P

i would avoid playing tenor horn on a french horn mouthpiece with adapter.. as.. although it works so to speak, it leaves you with a harsh sound and production.

It's only a brass band :P

I think this user should be banned for such an outrageous comment... ;) ;)

08.05.2003, 18:36
I think I know what you mean - all of the standard brass instruments can be approached with one technique, but, on the few occasions I've gone anywhere near a French Horn, I've found it fantastically hard going, mainly due to the mouthpiece/bore profile. I was wondering if it gets any easier with a bit of practise but it doesn't sound like it!


You wanna blow my what?
08.05.2003, 18:40
HAHA it doesn't get better in my case either! It all depends on what horn you have. You have to have the right horn for it to work! (evidently I have the wrong one!)

I've never heard of these things to change the mouthpiece of the LSO.....interesting. I'm sure it would make the french horn sound awful though!

08.05.2003, 18:42
he's only 3rd horn anyway ;)

You wanna blow my what?
08.05.2003, 21:26
haha, ONLY 3rd horn. The ranking order (highest pay!) with french horns is 1st, 3rd, 4th, 2nd. Believe it or not. :P

09.05.2003, 10:00
I used to play the clarinet but gave up mainly becoz everyone told me it was bad for ur embouchure to play both! However, this thread has inspired me to take up the clarinet again! Thanks :D :D :D

09.05.2003, 11:04
yeah i know 3rd is 2nd best.. but it sounds not as good doesnt it ;) :)
i thought it was 2nd then 4th after tho? u get paid more for farting out bass lines then?

You wanna blow my what?
09.05.2003, 14:03
u get paid more for farting out bass lines then?
No you get paid more for playing 4th horn :P because it's harder and nobody wants to do it!

If you're a horn player, being 3rd sounds good :P

09.05.2003, 15:20
I forgot about the french horn, I can play it too. I like playing it, but don't get much chance because it's my sister's and she won't let me use it often. I get confused with the fingerings, on the higher octaves, but because of the nature of the instrument I can normally just play it on open and lip it to the right pitch (e.g. the f and g on top octave etc). I don't find it difficult to switch between them, french horn mouthpieces are more similar to trumpet ones (rim size) than tenor horn ones.

You wanna blow my what?
09.05.2003, 16:20
french horn mouthpieces are more similar to trumpet ones (rim size) than tenor horn ones.

Indeed. Another annoying thing about French horn is the length of tubing, it's the same length as the tuba! Makes it a b**** to pitch!

09.05.2003, 22:34
I don't know about the pros and cons from an embrochure point of view, but I have recently started playing BBFlat in our training band and find that it helps with my Euph playing as it makes me think a lot more about things like lip position and note production because of the unfamiliar mouthpiece.

14.05.2003, 21:20
well i play flute, clarinet, alto sax and other brass instruments and none of them have ever affected my playing but I do think I will never have a perfect tone or perfect range while I play them all. At the end of the day it depends on practice.

blue euph
18.05.2003, 05:40
I used to have problems going from euph. to trombone 8 years when I had to learn the trombone. My main problem was my euph. sound suffered big time and my euph. embourchure never felt comfortable. I didn't had too much problems getting around the trombone and my trombone sound was ok. When I found out some new trombone players were coming to the college, I decided to stop playing trombone cold turkey. After a 4 year, never touched a trombone, last year for the Minot City Band, they urgently needed a trombone player. Seeing that there were 2 other euph players in City Band, I decided to be brave and I borrowed a friends c1948 bach 42 trombone. I only had one rehersal to learn the music in the concert and get rid of my slide rusting hand which the problem solved itself by playing scales and using alternate positions when feasible.

I'm at the point in my trombone doubling which I can fool people thinking trombone is my primary instrument. A month ago, I played a piece of mine which the 2nd half of the piece is all mid register up and goes to high Db. A lot of people at my church didn't knew that I played trombone (and thought it was some real trombone player) and 'course realized that was one miserable, tough piece to play. I'm in the process of finding a decent trombone mouthpiece which is close to the feel as my Dennis Wick SM3 and SM4 mouthpieces which I use on my Besson euph. but course making sure that my trombone sound sounds like a trombone, not an euphonium. The best that I came up with is using a Brian Bowman BB1 on trombone which works not too bad though painful if playing prolong static mid register parts like pomp and circumstance! 'Course I like my SM3 and 4 mouthpieces of my euph. Any suggestions? Most of the rare times which I play trombone is playing 2nd trombone in a concert band.

I do switch to BB tuba as well when needed though I never had too much problems switching or having my euph. sound suffer. Two years ago, for a one concert, I went back and forth from tuba to euph, mainly b/c I didn't had access to an EEb tuba and I didn't want to work any harder than I had to playing the parts which I was playing (1st bassoon for one of them and a string bass) was pretty much mid register up.

01.06.2003, 00:22
If there is a problem, I'd say it's more to do with divided attention and practise time than mouthpiece problems.

I had cornet student who got a clarinet for Christmas. For the next while her tone got worse and worse, but I it had more to do with not practising her cornet! But eventually the fad for clarinet faded, and her tone improved.

I think the arguement goes that if the the mouthpieces are vastly different, no problem. Problems arise when they are very similar in size. But if were to ask all the cornet players on this list how many use different mouthpieces for different situations and instruments, I think the answer will be "quite a few"!

I think it's an individual thing. :)

Naomi McFadyen
02.06.2003, 14:51
I'm going between sax, clarinet, flute and brass instruments and find it easy to go between them with no probs...
I've heard some1 say (an ex of mine actually) that this isn't a good idea at all and you should stick to one instrument... what a load of rubbish that is eh! geeesh...