Embouchures

The embouchure controls the pitch and to some degree the quality of your sound.

Regardless of the embouchure you use these things MUST always happen.

The lips must be moist. The surface tension of the water aids in setting up the vibrations.

The lips must be touching. (If the air has nothing to fight there is NO buzz.)

Use as Little pressure as possible. Pressure only separates the lips and stops the sound. Backing off the pressure will allow you to soar.

Everyone says Tighten up to play high. Hold something between your finger and thumb. That squeeze is what they are talking about. Playing high involves slightly pushing your lips together as you ascend.

Farkas

75-80% of all players use this embouchure.
This embouchure is described FULLY in “The Art of Brass Playing” by Phillip Farkas.
He told people to blow as if they were trying to cool soup. That is how he set the embouchure.

Raphael Mendez said to say the letter “M”.

In this embouchure you must Point the CHIN down. It is the pointing of the chin that prevents you from stretching the lips too thinly.
The skin under your lower lip will be taut with no air pocket.
Your lips do not over lap nor do they roll in or out.
The corners of the mouth are held firmly in place.

Now what they DIDN’T say.
To play with an extended range you must.

  • Use a Pivot
  • Use a Tongue Arch
  • Remember use compression for range
  • Like finger pushing against finger

 

Maggio

The Maggio system was established because Louis Maggio had sustained an injury which prevented him from playing any other system.

This embouchure is elusive for some players. The pucker is so different from what they used before that they lose control and sound quality. Others do well.

In this system you cushion the lips by extending them or puckering ( like a monkey ).
In fact their T-shirts are a closeup of a monkey forming the embouchure.

This puckering enables the players to overcome physical malformations.
It also lets the player play for an extended time in the upper register.

I DO advise people who can not play other embouchures because of injury or serious dental malformations to TRY Maggio.

 

Stevens

This requires a special mouth formation to be 100% successful. In the past 2 years I’ve only started a few students on this embouchure.

To set this embouchure you:

  • Make sure that your teeth are 1/4 – 1/2 of an inch apart.
  • Make sure that your jaw is forward making a flat playing surface.
  • Make sure that your lips are touching and slightly push your lips together to make a cushion.
  • Then PLACE the mouthpiece ON your lips.
  • To ascend you will push the lipstogether.0l>
  • The lips will have a natural tendency to slightly curl in. That’s OK.
  • Remember to use as little pressure as possible.
  • The more that you can back off the pressure the more you have in reserve for later
  • Use a PIVOT.

 

Superchops

This is taught by a well known teacher / horn maker.

It seems ( at least to me ) to mix parts of both the Maggio and Stevens. It shares the same problems also. Plus it is very difficult to learn to slide the lips up to the high register position and back to normal.

In this system the pivot is much more aggressive than on other embouchures.

  • The pivot is used to push the lips over the top teeth and force the air stream to follow it.
  • The lower lip curls in over the top of the bottom teeth ( like a reed player ).
  • The top lip slightly overlaps the lower lip.
  • The lip compression comes from pulling all of the muscles in toward the center. This causes a semi-pucker.
  • This system does NOT use a tongue arch. He says that it constricts the throat.
  • All tonguing is to be done thru your teeth. This part really disturbed me.

As you ascend you pivot draw your facial muscles in and slide the mouthpiece over the top of the upper teeth.
To me it seemed like an extreme embouchure shift.

There ARE some good professional players using this to their advantage.

 

Lip Buzzing

This is the embouchure Mendez played. When he taught he made his students lip buzz a month before he gave them a mouthpiece. He then made them mouthpiece buzz a month before he gave them the trumpet. By then they could change pitches and had decent tone. I use this embouchure on most of my students.

The fastest way to successfully go to a closed embouchure is :

  • Lip Buzz: (Like spitting seeds.)
  • Do this 15 – 30 minutes a day. Buzz scales, songs, arpeggios, etudes….
  • Set your new embouchure
  • Buzz a note and while holding the buzz sneak the horn & mpc into playing position.
  • Take ALL breaths through your nose (so you don’t disturb the embouchure). (Most open aperture players try to start closed and open up the chops as they breathe. They pin the lips in place while separated and can only make the lips touch by using mpc pressure.)
  • And play songs and etudes.

(After the new setting is secure go back to normal breathing.)

Stay in the staff until you have strengthened the NEW embouchure.

Do a lip setting drill:
Buzz and sneak the horn into place to play 1 note. Remove the horn and start over. It takes thousands of good reps to break a bad habit.

Do those things for 1 month.

Then AFTER the new embouchure is set and the chops are stronger you can work on the Stevens palming exercise. I only do open arpeggios with this. Do it 15 minutes a day and after a month you should be able to play over High C with almost no pressure.

Then you must learn to relax the face and let the tone become full. Work on pulling the corners in to adjust tone color and assist range. Relearn your pivot and tongue arch. Work on more efficient breathing….

Pops

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