Embouchure work/Double buzz

Q: 

Hi Weston,

Hope everything goes well with you! 

The more I play in the orchestra, the more I feel the basic things are very important. Now I am pretty sure the thing that causes my double buzz is my weak embouchure. Even in middle range my upper lip is overlaping the lower lip and the air anlge is almost parallel to my chin. I tried a method in the book wirrten by a trumpet teacher John Haynie to move my chin forward and parallel the teeth. But to keep it that way for the whole range is very difficult. I just want to double check with you to make sure that I am on the right track. Will you keep your teeth parallel no matter the range you play or just for the middle and low range? Now I can just play trigger and pedal range like that, do you think it is a good way to use the same embouchure to gradually build up my range?

A:

Hi. Good to hear from you and thanks for submitting a question. Sounds to me like you're on the right path and doing a lot of the right things. It's just a matter of allowing enough time and repetitions to make these changes permanent throughout the entire register of the instrument. I'm not familiar with John Haynie's book, but I do agree with the concept of moving your chin slightly forward and having the rows of teeth be parallel. Most of us have a natural overbite that then leads us to want to roll the bottom lip very far under the top. In my opinion, this creates a thinner sound that doesn't resonate fully.

I would definitely aim for the lips to lie flat on top of one another, with neither lip rolling behind the other. In order to do this, you will most likely have to move your chin forward. At first, it may seem uncomfortable or unnnatural because it is new and it is definitely not the way your mouth situates itself in a normal, relaxed setting away from the trombone. However, if your goal is to have chops that are evenly placed and provide an open passageway for the air to pass through, then it's sensible to have a flat chin and teeth that are slightly spread and parallel. 

There are several ways to think about this. Many teachers emphasize thinking about the air first. They say the speed and direction of the air leads the embouchure to the right place. In discussions and articles about this topic, Ian Bousfield and Jay Friedman seem to endorse this way of thinking. I'm not going to disagree with those guys! So... if you're going along this path, constantly think of the air moving straight forward and hitting a spot that's directly in front of you. A good start is to aim the air towards the end of your top slide tube. For greater visualization, think of something at the same height that's further away. 

If you want to think of this with the lips first, think of saying the letter M, followed by firming your corners. Try to keep this general shape throughout the entire register of the instrument. Keep in mind that because you have a natural overbite your tendency will be to roll the bottom lip under as the range becomes more stressful. Be creative in your ways of counteracting that tendency. Think to roll your bottom lip out.... roll your top lip in.... keep your bottom lip stationary. Experiment with sending different mental signals to your chops, and then check closely in the mirror to see what is ACTUALLY happening. You might surprised to see that when you're telling yourself to blow the air upwards in the high range, the actual result is that the chops are even and your are blowing in a straight line. Use trial and error with your mental cues until you find what cues keep your embouchure consistent. Once you have it, drill it until it becomes permanent. Don't be the person who keeps teling yourself the same thing over again, and keeps making the same errors. Mix it up a bit. 

Good luck with this issue. I hope my thoughts are helpful to you. All the best!

Weston



Leave a comment

    Add comment