Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:
(1) “Embouchure Changes”
(2) Flugelhorn Playing
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Tip #1 – “Embouchure Changes”
First let me say that I try to not use this as a personal venting forum when it comes to trumpet playing, but there is SO much B.S. and mystery surrounding this very topic that I feel as though it’s important to point various things out and dispel myths surrounding the embouchure, etc.
When I hear someone say something like “We need to change your embouchure,” or, “I changed my embouchure!” I immediately think, what was deficient in your set up to begin with? If you’re looking for more range and change your embouchure chances are very good you’re going to have the same issues as you did before at some point or another because you didn’t tackle the real issue! Range has less to do with the lips “working” and more to do with what they shouldn’t HAVE to do than anything else. If a trumpet player has horrid sound, no range, no flexibility and no endurance, then they are either on the wrong instrument or they need specific guidance on what to correct. Most likely it’s coming from over tightening the lips just to produce sound. But completely changing the placement of the mouthpiece on your face just to “fix” something is ridiculous to me.
Case in point… I think our placement of the mouthpiece has more to do with jaw, muscle structure and teeth (because the mouthpiece is the only sound contact we have with our instrument) than anything else. Look at pictures of Maynard Ferguson as a young man… he’s pretty much playing dead center on his face. Now… look at pictures of him in 2004 – he’s off to the side a bit! Is he wrong? Would you tell Maynard Ferguson that he needed to fix his embouchure? I hear a great many band directors talk about how a student needs an embouchure change… yet, in most cases that band director is NOT a trumpet player! I have a student going into 9th grade this coming fall and have absolutely battled his middle school (oboe holding) band director on how his sound, range, flexibility is great… she wants to change his embouchure because it’s off to the side and doesn’t “look” right.
Long story short – my first tip for you this week is PLEASE – DO NOT – consider an “embouchure” change. Seek out solutions OTHER than this as there are many things a player can do that will help build what ever deficiency the student may have. Looks don’t count in this arena!
Tip #2 – Flugelhorn Playing
I was reminded tonight of what Arturo Sandoval has been telling me for the better part of the year concerning Flugelhorn playing… you cannot treat the flugelhorn the same way you do when you play trumpet! It must be approached in a different manner… it’s supposed to have a darker, warmer and more rich timbre! Changing your approach to playing the horn is a must! Many players approach the flugelhorn with the same set as they do their trumpet… yet, flugelhorn should have a more dark / defused sound which would require the player to play with a more loose setting… not to the point that you’re playing “flat,” but more relaxed for sure.
Arturo put out a great video on Facebook a couple of weeks ago… I will ask him if I can share that video here for all of you. Once I receive his permission, I will post it. It’s an awesome example of what to do / what not to do!
Care about what other people think – and you will always be their prisoner.
Lao Tzu – Philosopher and Writer
Have a GREAT week!