First Sounds with the New Embouchure

Jordan is a talented high school student who is making a major embouchure change.  Before, his lips were erupted outward to the degree that he was playing completely on the inner tissue. Although he had a nice, warm sound (using a large 1 1/2 c mouthpiece), he was having trouble ascending to the top of the staff and above.  We had been working with accelerating his airstream, but with the large lip aperture it was like trying to drive on the interstate in first gear.

After a lot of hard work Jordan was able to evenly invert his lips and create a paper thin aperture that still allowed for the passage of air.  When he first added the horn there was still a slight separation of the lips and so there was no sound, but on 5/18 he was able to maintain enough gentle contact between the lips that the sound emerged.  The first notes were the open high Bb, C, D and E (which were very exciting for him, considering their relative ease and his history), but they were a little shrill and would stop and start, and jump up and down without much control.  Kudos to Jordan for waiting for the notes to play in the position he had made, which gives one much more feedback about how well the current position is being assembled.  When one can already play the instrument the temptation is to do whatever is needed to produce a note (based on previous experience), which keeps one from discovering other possibilities.

By 5/25 Jordan had relaxed much more and learned to use his airflow, rather than tension for control.  The sound became clear and warmed up, and the notes began to sustain through his entire breath, all the while remaining in the range of high C.  Even more exciting to me was when the middle register began to speak while he maintained the same position, meaning he was eliminating even more unneeded tension (including mouthpiece pressure) while still keeping the lips in the same set.   As he is beginning to experience, this setup can play throughout the range of the horn.  Great work Jordan!

Note:  Be sure to visit the later post, “Refining the New Embouchure,” which describes Jordan’s next steps in detail.

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