O.J.'s Trumpet Page Resources

Changing embouchure

   NOTE: When reviewing this text I see that this is just some notes from some experimenting done in my "lip lab." Some of it still makes sense but other things are not right or important anymore. So just take it for what it is - some personal notes....

   If you read the book "Setting Up Drills" by Herbert L. Clarke, you will see that Clarke has tried a lot of embouchures and that he in this book describes an embouchure that helped him play from pedals into the so called double register. As a Cornet soloist, Clarke was not required to play very high - like todays scream or lead-trumpet players, but still he would try to get an optimal embouchure. You can read about his "Struggle toward Perfection" here.

   I have been using my lips as a sort of "lip laboratory" (to borrow a  phrase from Jerry Callett via Nick Drozdoff).  I've been
doing this for about two years now. For this time I also have been exchanging ideas with my Internet and trumpet playing friend Rune Aleksandersen.

"lip buzzing" & "smile embouchure". 
   Recently I have stopped doing the so called lip buzzing. But - lip buzzing was the technique that helped me get rid of my old "smile embouchure".
 NOTE:Well, this was written some time ago - now I do some lip buzzing again, but I have changed the routine a bit. There is at least 3 different types of lip buzzing:
1. Relaxing, massaging (the so called "horse flap"),
2. Melodic buzzing (strengthening type)
3. Short sharp "quack-buzz" (more isometric type).
When I use melodic buzzing I do it from a very low register (tuba pedal register) and up into the middle trumpet register (4 - 5 octaves in range). I "play" a melody like "Frere Jaque" starting in tuba register then go up a fifth, and doing the melody from that note, then up a fourth, and so on until I reach the trumpet register. This is a good practice when walking to job or when travelling without bringing the horn along.

   I started as a kid on euphonium or baritone horn (was in love with the trumpet, but the band director chose the euphonium - I was rather big - and a big kid had to play a bigger horn.... ).

   Very soon I could play quit well - was able to "sing" into this big horn. Some years later in my late teens I had money and I bought a trumpet. But I had no teacher so I got the "Complete Arban" and started practicing. In that book Arban said "to smile" when ascending - and I did. As you understand I devoleped the "smile ebouchure" and was never able to "sing" on the trumpet like I had on the bigger horn.
Some years later I attended a seminar with the principal trumpet of Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. He immediately saw my problems and he showed me how to lip buzz. I did - and was able to change my embouchure to a much better setting.

"Farkas Embouchure"
   Later I got the Farkas book "Art of Brass Playing" and I have been playing this embouchure up until the autumn of 1997.

   Eddie Lewis - this very kind fellow from Houston sent me his book a year ago. For free ! Once more - thanks Eddie! I have been using it ever since - and I can play most of the lip buzz exercises and mouthpiece buzz exercises.

   I also bought a book by Roy Poper where he explains James Stamp's method. Poper says that to buzz in the proper way you have to relax. I find this difficult to do - I feel I easily get too tense when lip buzzing. But when I add a rim vizualiser (like Jacobs advocates) it works much better.
   NOTE: Well, this was the case until I started doing melodic buzzing from tuba register and up (see above). Now my buzz in the trumpet register is much more relaxed.

   Phil Smith who had a seminar here i Norway for NTF (Norwegian Trumpet Forum) in 1996, uses mouthpiece buzzing a lot in his warm up and the exercises he often use is from Stamp. But Phil is skeptic when it comes to lip buzzing - "you uses another embouchure". See a Norwegian text on it at this URL:


"Stevens Embouchure"
   When I changed from my "Farkas Embouchure" to what we may call the "Stevens Embouchure", I felt it conflicted a bit with lip buzz. The lip buzz "took me back to the Farkas embouchure". (NOTE: This was only temporary - no problem anymore)

   The lovely thing with my new setting is that I finally after all this years can "sing" more easily into the trumpet. Wow! With this new embouchure I do not use so much "tug of war" (to cite Farkas) and my chop feels much more "fat" and moving forward and the support on my lower lip is also much stronger.

"Personal Warm Up"
   For a long time I have been using warm up routines from different books (Arturo Sandoval, The Bing Book, Eddie Lewis, Chase Sanborn etc.) - but when I switched to this new setting, I realised that I needed my own personal routine so that I could focus on this new embouchure. I believe a warm up is a personal thing (not only on a trumpet, but also in sports) but there are some common elements, so here is my personal warm up. I call it "Approaching brass playing" - but the idea is based on what Nick Drozdoff calls a progessivly practice or "growing horn setup"

"The Moving Embouchure"
   I have "discovered" that a lot of the past and present great players use what we could call a "moving embouchure" as opposed to a "static" embouchure. See my mini-essay on this subjec here

"Embouchure and Horn Players"
   Recently I have started playing the French Horn. To get to know this instrument, I had to get Horn literature. An interesting book is Thoughts on playing the Horn well by Frøydis Ree Wekre. There she discusses the Farkas Embouchure. She calls it "the poker-face-concept" as opposed to "the rubber-face-concept" (by Dale Clevenger). She prefers the last concept. But - I have taken lessons on horn and my instructor says she tried "the rubber-face-concept" for years (she studied with Frøydis Ree Wekre) but it did not work for her. Now she playes more close to the Farkas concept.
Moral: Use the "golden section" or "middle of the road" or what works best for you.

"Some important notes on Embouchure"
(from Arnold Jacobs and others)