Welcome to our brand new website. Let me know what you think by pressing CONTACT and sending me a message. If there's something you'd like us to add, please let me know. Carl close ×

What is a good embouchure?

What is a good embouchure? Good question. Embouchures are like snow flakes, golf swings and finger prints. None are the same. I’ve seen many different approaches and positions that trumpet players use to place a trumpet on their face that work. Some have the horn pointed down or off to the side. These to me are unnatural positions, but have been made to work by a lot of very good players.

In my view, the reasons for these unnatural positions are 1.Poor or no fundamental training when starting out 2. An unnatural bite 3. Uneven teeth. I contend that people who fall in the categories of 2 and 3 should be discouraged from playing a brass instrument from the beginning.

So what is a natural embouchure? To me a natural embouchure is placing your lower jaw out far enough so your lower teeth align evenly with your upper teeth to make a wall where the mouthpiece can comfortably rest without tilting up or down or to either side. 60% of the pressure should be on the lower jaw and 40 & on the upper. With this position achieved, the upper lip should be free to vibrate (of course your lower lip vibrates, too) and your horn should be pointing straight out (even with the ground.) More results with less effort should ensue.

On hard and long pounding gigs one should make sure that the pressure and abuse should be directed to the lower jaw and lip not the upper. The upper teeth can’t move or do anything to help the positioning. The lower teeth (jaw) can move and must be set in a position to achieve proper alignment of the teeth and take responsibility to protect the upper lip.

With your lower teeth (jaw) dropped back and behind the line of your upper teeth, your horn will start pointing down, your upper lip will be taking most of the pressure, and proper vibration is stifled. Your lower jaw has got to take care of business and that is to take most of the stress off of the upper lip.

You’ll know when you’re doing this properly when you develop a little callus on the inside of your lower lip and your upper lip isn’t bashed and mangled from playing hard. Your range and endurance will improve.

A lot is said about blowing air. “Blow more air, more velocity, blow harder, louder”. Most all trumpet players that I have observed in my career blow too much air or over blow. They’re trying to overcome the physicality of the trumpet with force. I have found that when one blows too much air, their flexibility suffers. Light and tight swinging is near to impossible and your sound and ability to play clean and delicate is compromised.

If one uses the embouchure described above, the lips should be in a position to vibrate freely and effortlessly with less air. I’ll leave you with an axiom from my personal approach to playing trumpet….

“Use the least amount of air to get the job done to its fullest”

Carl Saunders

Share : facebooktwittergoogle plus

Some thoughts on the blues

I think the blues exists in places other than the usual packaging oftwelve bars… 1-4– 1– 2-5–1…

I think the blues is an approach to playing, rather than a song or a tune. Of course, there have been millions of songs or tunes written on the blues form of twelve bars. We all love to hear and play the blues in that form, but the way I see it… there is more.

The blues is in all music. It’s the phrasing…a bent note here or there, a pulled string, sliding into a phrase…and don’t forget the blue notes themselves.

The blues was originally characterized as sad music, but nowadays I don’t hear sadness when people play the blues. I hear complaining and anger. The blues to me is beauty. When one is sad, humbled, and has the blues one can express the beauty of the blues. Anger is not beautiful. It’s not humble or sad. It is ugly.

Of course the blues doesn’t have a lock on sad music. Standards and other songs can communicate sadness. When you hear a blues program or show on the radio, you hear people who are musically illiterate. They have soul and have a natural feel, but they haven’t studied their instruments enough to play in more than two or three keys. These people are limited and demean the potential of the blues. The term “Get Down” means to me that a person has experienced pain in his life, is highly evolved, classically trained & an accomplished instrumentalist, and can get down, get funky, bluesy, & soulful. Take Herbie Hancock, he is a highly evolved and accomplished musician, but when its time to he can “Get Down” and play some funky blues.

There are a few gifted individuals who span the distance between being highly accomplished on one’s instrument and are still able to get down to the nitty gritty of the blues. They are our only hope to connect with so called ‘unsophisticated ears’ and bring them up to a level where they can achieve a broader appreciation of the blues.


Share : facebooktwittergoogle plus