Date: Tue, 14 Oct 1997 19:27:35 -0500
From: Robert Romza <>
Subject: Re: Beginning trumpet players

>       I hope this message is not a repeat of any recent ones, because I
>JUST joined the list.
>       I am hoping that some of you with experience in "starting off"
>yound trumpet players can give me some advice about:
>               1) Teaching correct embouchure formation
>               2) Teaching good breath habits

        I have some experience starting beginning players, and while I won't go into what age they should be, here are some techniques I use at the first lesson.  Hope they help!

        First, if possible, don't let the student play anything until you can be with him/her at the lesson to help them get off to a good start. Often they immediately get the horn out, start blowing, and if they don't accidently fall into a good set, may develop some bad habits.

        Embouchure Formation:
        I tell the student to imagine they have a small piece of food that they want to spit off the tip of their tongue.  Have them do this and hold the set they put their lips into.  This will be pretty close to a good embouchure set.  Then have them hold this and put the mouthpiece up and try a buzz.  Start with buzzing long tones: don't worry about the pitch, just keep it steady. Transfer this to the horn and have them play an open pitch (they will probably get low C or second line G. If they are older, I will show them some pictures (from the Farkas Brass Book) of good embouchures and tell them to use a mirror when they buzz and imitate!!

        Breathing Habits:
        At first, I try to keep this non-technical. I tell them to imagine blowing the air THROUGH THE HORN,  not at the mouthpiece; work to keep the tone as steady as they can and hold 8 to 12 beats.  Like water out of fire hose.  As long as they are not doing anything totally wrong (like raising the shoulders) I wait for any technical discussion of breathing.  This is tempered by factors such as age and previous musical experience.  If they are also learning notes, rhythms etc., they have enough to think about.

        Hope this helps.  (By the way, I'm totally new to the list also!)

Bob Romza