Playing worries


New Member
Hi everyone. Am just looking for a bit of advice. I play in a championship section band, but have been told I must change my embouchure (sp?). I rest the top of my mouthpiece in the middle of my lip, instead of on the muscle above the lip. This has proved no problem so far with my playing, which is of a decent standard (I think, anyway), but I have recently been told if I don't change my embouchure this could lead to problems later on in my playing career. I have been told that it can lead to blood clots/ nerve deadening (sp?) in the lip, meaning I won't be able to play. Does anyone know if this is true, or have a similar experience? I have tried playing in the 'correct' position but I can barely produce a note, and can hit nothing above a middle C. Please reply, I'm desperate for advice. Cheers.


Active Member
All players play differently i reckon there is not one person that plays the same as the next, i mean its like people suiting different mouthpieces.
Surely you should play how you feel comfy, you dont HAVE to do anything.


When I started uni last year, my teacher told me to completely change my embouchure. At first it was really difficult and frustrating. I could hardly play at all and sounded like a complete beginner. I put off joining a band for a few months so that I could concentrate on changing my embouchure. Now I can play fine again - and I think I sound better than b4! I definitely find playing a lot easier.
It is hard work and takes lots of practice and patience but personally I think it was worth it. :)


New Member
I think they are giving you a bit of a scare - talking about nerve damage anb blood clots. Your lip is a muscle and the more you use it - like any muscle the stronger it gets. Your embouchure is just the area you have strengthened around your mouthpiece. Obviously the higher up your top lip you place your mouthpiece the more muscle is available for use. This may help you with endurance, and sometimes your sound quality but if you practice regularly enough it shouldnt matter. If you want to change your embouchure then you have alot of practice ahead. You are baiscally building a up a new muscle from scratch. I know of other people who play on the edge of their lip and whilst it isnt advised to do so - they have no problems.


Staff member
Several years ago a friend of mine - he was in his teens at the time - was playing sop in the band. He was doing quite well, but our bandmaster (who was also his teacher) felt he would do much better if he changed his embouchure. I'm not aware of any medical reason being quoted, simply that he would become a better player.

Having started to change the way he was playing, he stepped down to 2nd cornet while he adjusted. He found, however, that he just couldn't settle properly. Having had a short spell on horn, he settled on EEb bass, joining one of the guards bands, as well as going on to play with a championship section band for a while.

I've not spoken to him about it lately, but it's just a warning that things don't always work out as planned. It may be worth speaking to a few other people in the know before committing yourself to this change.
I have my embouchure much the same as yourself, my teacher commented on it but would not change it on account of everyone is different and a change is not always better for some people.
I have been doing it this way for the best part of 15 years and have had no probs.
This is one of those areas where there will always be different opinions. It may be that you need a change in which case you need to prepare yourself for the long haul, and don't be in too much of a hurry to be back to your current standard!

If you are not sure then I would suggest that you get a second opinion. For £40 you can get yourself an hours lesson with a top pro/teacher from one of the leading orchestras/bands. These guys are very experienced and will give you an unbiased view on what you need to do. This would be money very well spent I think.

The other point I would like to make is that the reponses here seem to be talking about wholesale change of your setup. If you are anything like me then you will be constantly looking at what you are doing with a view to improving. It may be that only a slight adjustment in mouthpiece position is all that is required.

Anyhow, Good Luck.
Our principal conrnet player started at the Scottish RAMD last year and was told to change his emberchoure. He moved down to third cornet and worked his way back up and it took less than a year to do it, as others said it all depends on the reason why you have to change.


I was told to change my embouchure at the start of a Music degree as I had developed a tremendous pressure method over a couple of years when I wasn't having lessons. I also went to get second opinions etc. Anyway, I began the painstaking process and at the start of my 2nd year in Uni, I couldn't even play a middle C!

Now it's been 9 years since this happened, but I can assure you it was worth all the hard work and patience. I still don't have the text book embouchure by a long way but I think i've become a better player in the long run.

There are many famous people in the banding world that would still be playing today if they'd had a decent technique in their younger days. Jim Shepherd can still probably beat the best of todays generation of cornet players, simply due to his faultless technique. Also there's Peter Roberts and Alan Wycherley still playing better than ever.

If you're in doubt, contact David James in Stonehaven (near Aberdeen).
He's like Yoda.

Flugel - Whitburn.
McChambo said:
If you're in doubt, contact David James in Stonehaven (near Aberdeen).
He's like Yoda.

Flugel - Whitburn.

What small and green???? :)

People that I know who have dne changes have taken at least a year to get back to where they were before. The upside is that it gives you a lot more confidence knowing you setup is reliable.


Ok, a bigger version...........and Welsh.

I think he's known as JamesResurgam on this forum. He's been very quiet so far though. I remember back in the days of the Delphi forum when people were afraid of posting anything slightly dodgy, in case they got the wrath of Jamesie. Those people being me.


Active Member
The muscle which forms the red part of your lip is thinner and not as strong as those around it. Ideally your mouthpiece should encroach well onto the 'white' of your upper lip.

I began to play at 11 without good guidance and found myself with a similar problem, the mouthpiece didn't reach the 'white' of my upper lip. By the time I was 14/15 I'd reached a stage where my playing was starting to deteriorate - high register and soft entries became unreliable and affected my confidence, making the problem much worse.

John Ridgeon and Jim Shepherd offered advice which concurred with that of my teacher (Mike Antrobus) so we finally took the plunge and reset my mouthpiece position and spent a good two years rebuilding. This wasn't a good time - it coincided with school exams and university auditions etc. and it was very hard work, but I'm convinced that I wouldn't be playing now if I had stuck with my old embouchure. Once you lose confidence in your lips' ability to produce the right sounds I don't think you have many options.

In the long term it was a good decision - my 'new' embouchure has withstood everything I've thrown at it and the work I did has helped me to understand how the embouchure works to a much greater extent.

Make sure that you have the support of a good teacher who has the understanding and patience to get you through this - and best of luck!


Aussie Tuba

When i was learning my Band leader used to play left of centre as did his teacher b4 him , my teacher whent on to play for city of Coventry for a while and as far as I know he still plays with mouthpiece left of centre . He sounded and still sounds Great .
Having said all that , Playing a tuba as big a mouthpiece as it is it finds its own place , Right in the middle ! :roll:

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