Embouchure / Buzzing

Don’t most of you guys tweak your embouchures to get those notes? I don’t want to do that. I just want to blow and push the valves.

I’m not exactly sure what is meant by tweaking to get notes.

If you are playing a g to play a f you only have to push a valve. (NOT)

The pressing the valve idea works on a very basic level. We strive to make every note match in sound quality and to be in tune. THIS REQUIRES TWEAKING EVERY NOTE.

Some of these are done with the chops, some with the air, some with the tongue level and some using all three. But every note is tweaked.

If you mean some kind of embouchure shift. Then I can tell you that I don’t shift my embouchure. It is the same from one end to the other. Most people who play with a embouchure shift share these common problems.

1. They do not use enough air.

2. They do not use enough air.

3. They do not use enough air.

4. They compensate with mouthpiece pressure.

5. The set note is in the lower register instead of on top of the staff.

The first 4 explain themselves.

For #5 try this example. Pick up your horn and set for a low c. Now play a low c. On the same breath add air and slur to g, middle c, g, high c, and high g. That is two and a half octaves over the set point of low c. Most people would not be able to do that.

Now set for a g on top of the staff. Play that g and then slur up to high c and high g. On the same breath slur down until you get back to low c. This should have been easy as the top note was only 1 octave higher than the set point. The low notes will come out free as well.

This takes a day or two to get used to but it is a lifesaver in real performance.

That’s how I play NO embouchure shifts.

There are only 3 reasons not to be playing high.

1. The lips separating as you blow allowing the air to hiss through. This happens as you play higher and higher; the lips blow apart and instead of a note you hear air. (This is rarely seen.)

2. The chops / mouthpiece pressure closing the aperture not letting any sound out. As you go higher the lip compression makes the aperture smaller and smaller. You also add some mouthpiece pressure to seal the chops. This pressure closes the aperture down even farther. This has NOTHING to do with lip strength or power. It is a combination of TOO MUCH lip compression, TOO MUCH mouthpiece pressure and NOT ENOUGH AIR to blow the lips apart. (This is the most common.)

3. Not enough air speed / support. This speaks for itself.

The quickest solution is to teach the student to use very little mouthpiece pressure and to use more air.

I had a new student start last Friday. He has a BM and has been playing for 16 – 17 years. I had him play some real music first to check on his tone, flexibility, tonguing. I even had him sight read. (I DO NOT teach poor players to play high. They have to work on the basics first.) His playing was fine. His range was poor.

I gave him an AIR lesson.

1. We used the warmup from my book. I had him blowing arpeggios working on the air and NOT the lips. Take 2nd line g, 3rd space c & g on top of the staff. Play this as a slurred passage of whole notes. There is a tendency for the 4th space e to want to be played or touched as a passing tone.

Use air to blow past this to the g.

Think about blowing the notes out of the horn. The 2nd line g goes out 5 feet. The c goes out 10 feet. Make the g on top of the staff go out 15-20 feet.

(I’ve had students blow out matches before. If I hold a lit match a foot from them they barely blow. If I hold it 20 feet away they blow like a hurricane.)

2. I had him lip trill a C scale starting on middle C. C to E, D to F, E to G…… High C to High E. Keep going up if you can. His last good trill was A to High C#. There are closer harmonics but we are using airflow to push through harmonics. This is an AIR. exercise.

3A. I played this lip trill exercise and let him hold my trumpet. So he could see how little pressure is really needed.

3B. I held his trumpet as he worked on range. After a minute or 2 I let him hold it himself. He then play a Concone study 8va. After he played a good high G. He said ” Is that a high G? That felt like a 2nd line G to my lips. I could do that all day.”

His learning about the upper register has just started. It is has NOTHING to do with how smart a person is. I’ve taught people who had DMA’s in trumpet. It has to do with someone teaching you the RIGHT way to do it.

This is SO easy in person. I hope that this written lesson helps.


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