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The embouchure controls the pitch

Posted on November 8, 2017 by 


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.



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.

Say the letter “M”.

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.



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

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.



This requires a special mouth formation to be 100% successful. It is very very hard to learn. Roy Stevens would refuse to accept new students if they had an overbite so big that they couldn’t move the lower teeth in front of the top teeth. He felt that embouchure was not right for a player with that type of jaw formation. This gives more validity to the thinking that certain embouchures work best for people with certain physical characteristics.

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 lips together.

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.



The muscles of the chin are used to push the lips together and resist the air.
The lip compression comes from pulling all of the muscles in toward the center.
This system does not use a tongue arch. Instead the tongue is placed very forward in your mouth to direct the airflow.
All tonguing is to be done thru your teeth.


Lip Buzzing

This is the embouchure Mendez played. It is also what Clarke played. And it is what I mainly play. When Mendez 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….