Issue: Apr-Jun 2005
Bandworld Magazine Page




Trumpet Embou-Sure (continued)
by Larry Hudson


The next step is to couple the embouchure formation with the instrument.  Be sure that the student uses the same lip formation when he brings the instrument to playing position as he did without it.  Also mention, (only if necessary) that the mouthpiece should be placed comfortably on the lips and somewhat centered.  Again, each player looks different.

Contrary to most beginning methods, I believe that first space F  (concert Eb) is the best starting note on the trumpet.  This note responds much quicker than the traditional open G approach and is probably the easiest note to play on the trumpet.  So...with first valve down, have the students "sigh through a banana into the horn," making certain that the lips remain in the "B" position.  Demonstration with your own trumpet will help "put the sound in the students' ears."

I have mentioned nothing about wetting the lips, as most students will do this anyway.  However, if a student does not wet his lips and seems to have difficulty making a vibration, suggest to him that he lick his lips and even the inside of the mouthpiece.

Testing each student individually you will encounter one of five predictable results:

#1--CORRECT RESULT More often than not, a reasonable tone will be produced if you have carefully introduced the embouchure formation.  In addition, the student will automatically attempt imitation of your tone and pitch.  When it happens, it should sound like this:


#2--NO TONE, RUSHING AIR In this instance, there are four possible causes:

a. Lips not together (spread aperture).
b. Too much pucker in the lips ('oo' shape).
c. Dry lips, dry mouthpiece.
d. Insufficient air to make lips vibrate.

Any of the four causes will produce this sound:


REMEDY: Re-forming and maintaining the "B" lip formation will eliminate the possibility of spread aperture (lips not together) and also the problem of too much pucker (or 'oo' shape).  Dry lips and dry mouthpiece can easily be eliminated by specifying that the student is to lick his lips and also the inside of the mouthpiece.  The problem of insufficient air to make the lips vibrate can best be handled by reviewing the "sigh" breath and even suggesting that the air move faster.

Since the sound produced in this instance is air only, you should be able to narrow the possible cause in this fashion:  Be sure the student licks his lips; then listen to the speed and force of the "rushing air" sound...if it is weak, the probable cause is insufficient air...if it is strong, the probable cause is in the lip formation.

#3--AIRY TONE This sound:


is one step above #2; the tone is now evident as an actual pitch but the same basic problems exist.  In this case, however, it is less likely that dry lips or insufficient air will be responsible for the sound.  Most often the causes will be:

a. Lips not together (spread aperture) and/or
b. Too much pucker in the lips ('oo' shape).

REMEDY: As before, ask the student to re-form and especially to maintain the "B" lip position.  Watch carefully when the student puts the trumpet to his lips; many times you will detect a severe change of lip position as he begins to play.


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