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Air vs embouchure

Posted on July 27, 2004 by 

The power of air vs an embouchure change

There are thousands of variables in trumpet playing. I have had and will continue to have people who add anywhere from a third to a fifth in an in person lesson. The octave is rare but does indeed happen. 2 octaves never. I know of other teachers who have had the same thing happen.

Don’t underestimate the power of the airstream. I’ve seen players with degrees up to AND including DMAs receive great benefits from an AIR lesson. Also playing pros, teachers… This includes players with up to 60 years of experience. (My oldest student to date was 74.)

My lesson on Monday did NOT add a single note during his lesson. I took the airy sound out of his tone, fixed his tonguing problem, taught him to relax and freed up the sound of his lower register. I helped him to reach his current top notes with less pressure and more power as a note rather than a squeel. But in fact he did NOT add to his range.

Still all in all I consider it a great improvement for him as a player.

I teach players to relax in the lower register using a similar approach that was presented in an ITG masterclass by Vincent Cichowicz.

I teach the visualization of range that was presented by Mike Vax at the same convention.

AND I teach the compression that was taught by Brisbois in the 70s for the upper register (currenty taught by Bobby Shew).

I learned all of these from Don Jacoby who was mentioned at an ITG masterclass.

There are MANY people who ADD to their range suddenly by this approach AND do NOT change embouchures. That is WHY the people I just mentioned AND me teach AIR, AIR, AIR.

Undergoing an embouchure change is a completely different matter all together. You have to spend a great deal of time in the mid and low registers. As the facial muscles have to strengthen and adjust to new demands. I have NEVER said an embouchure change is easy. And I try everything else first before I do one in person also.

As far as lip size goes the guy who taught me had the smallest lips I’ve ever seen. I have thick lips. I use a smaller percentage of my lip in the curl but the same amount of curl as he did.

The Stevens is an AHA type of embouchure. It requires a great deal of tiny adjustments that vary from person to person. It would take a book several thousands of pages to try to describe them all. And nobody would ever read that detailed an account. A lesson is the best way. Hundreds of tiny ahas will one day become a big AHA and then you have it. I’ve seen it learned in 4-5 lessons AND I’ve seen people who never got a handle on it. They played it but not well. Hey I can’t play golf. Why is that?

Air is a much faster and easier approach. Perhaps a minor fine tuning of your current embouchure and a more economical use of air is what you require.