Date: Sat, 31 Jan 1998 17:27:04 -0500 (EST)
From: Alan Rouse <>
Subject: Re: LONG! Re: my mystifying embouchure(and other random stuff)...

On at, 31 Jan 1998 11:23:43 -0500 (EST), Kimberly Stephans wrote:
>I think I understand where y`all are coming from with the advice to
>move away from the mirror -- "paralysis thru analysis" and all that
>stuff.  I have to come clean, though: I admit it, it's true, I'm an

That sounds like something I could have written!   Actually, I have "weighed in" on the analysis side of this conversation in the past. An embouchure problem can be kinda like a faulty golf swing.  No matter how much you practice, it doesn't get better.  The bad habit just gets more deeply entrenched.  To fix it you have to find out what is wrong, and change it.

On the other hand, lots of players create great problems for themselves by hopping around from one philosophy to another, trying to find the holy grail of embouchures, continually frustrated.  So there are real dangers.

I suspect that the Claude Gordon recommendations must be taken in the context of his overall system.  He describes how the embouchure should work,and lays out a 52-week series of exercises (in "Systematic Approach to Daily Practice") to develop  all components of that approach. He recommends 2/3 upper lip, and instructs that you should draw the lips inward toward the center of the mouthpiece as you ascend (in combination with raising the tongue). He provides exercises in which you are to focus on contracting the lips in this manner, and on tongue level.  (Read his explanation for more details).  Beyond that, he says "forget the lip".   In particular, he says don't worry about what it looks like--it will look different for different players due to physiological differences between people.

Claude Gordon was apparently an incredibly great trumpet player as well as an outstanding teacher.  He had it all--a range greater (up and down) than a piano keyboard, with wonderful sound and great accuracy.  He was in high demand as a commercial trumpeter for many years.  While it would be foolish of me to say that his approach is the only valid one, I think I can safely say that it is a very sound approach.  He had hundreds of students during his teaching career, and produced many fine professional players.  His books are clearly written and truly take you through a "systematic approach" to building your trumpet skills.