WindWorks Trumpet Academy Forums WindWorks Is my pivot backwards?

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    • #153109
      Rob Medina

      Hi all,
      I am wondering if anyone has come up with this in their own teaching or practice. Through over 20 years of playing, music school, and playing since then, I have had the habit of pivoting upward when I ascend in range. My jaw pushes very far forward, it is not comfortable, and I know it is wrong. It has always held me back and I have pretty poor endurance and range which I am fairly convinced is a result of that upward tilt. It’s not a small tilt either, it is pretty severe the more I try to push into the high register. My playing is continuously suffering and I am growing more frustrated. I have my orchestra season coming up and I play principal which I am not looking forward to any more. I have studied so many player’s embouchures and they all seem to tilt downward as they ascend (Bobby Shew, Al Vizutti, Doc Severinsen, etc.).

      Has anyone seen this? And am I doomed or how could I overcome this unusual habit?
      Thank you,

    • #153110

      Hi Rob

      I recommend to you to start immediately with Greg Spence MtM and you will learn a new Technik to play the trumpet.

      I learned his method during the last two years. Today I am able to play hours. My range improved incredible up to high g.

      I am going to quit the program by the end of this month.

      If you like please contact me

      Hajo Thome 🎺 from
      Germany 🇩🇪

    • #153112
      Rob Medina

      Hi Hajo,
      I’ve been working through the MTM course and I can tell I’m not as efficient as I know I should be. As I progress higher my jaw starts to move forward. This is not the intention I believe Greg has when he says to keep the lips forward, milk spout, etc. However, it’s a habit I have had for a long time so it is difficult to change. I am wondering if there are any considerations I should have as I try to change this approach to a more downward pivot when ascending range. My concern is that if this habit does not change, no amount of practice will make up for the issue. Also, there is not any great player I have seen that does this and I know that it is something that has held me back.

      It seems as though most people start with a downward horn angle and roll their bottom lip in, pointing the trumpet further down, as they ascend. My issue is that I have adopted the habit of doing the opposite, and have never had good or consistent slotting and ease of playing above the staff. It’s a complex issue so I don’t expect there to be a single solution to this.

    • #153113

      How long have you been working through MtM.
      It seems to me that you are very frustrated.
      Although I can understand you I would like to give you an advice.
      Stay in the process and concentrate on every tiny explanation from Greg.

      I could improve my playing during the last two years and I am sure you will make it , too.

      Frustration can be a good motivation 😉

    • #153141
      Christopher Hall


      I’ve always played the same way as what you are describing.

      I’ve spent the last 18 months trying to change this, just over 12-months of it looking at MTM. I’ve made some progress, but not there yet, and don’t really know the answer.

      However, I don’t think that trying to play ‘down’ is necessarily the answer in itself, though.

      For me, it’s been more trying to be aware of what I was doing with my jaw (was jutting it out and tilting horn up), with my air pressure (was trying to blow the horn straight a lot of the time), lip pressure (too much!) and then bringing all that back to a more neutral position.

      It was terrible at first–couldn’t play, sounded horrible, hated it. It’s still not great, but 18 months later, kind of a bit better–can play a bit, but I wouldn’t want to have to be gigging. (This will likely be a challenge for you if you are playing professionally. Good luck!)

      As well as looking at the MTM course for the last year–and getting some good things from it, but still not ‘getting it’ fully–I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the embouchures of good players online (YouTube etc). Some helpful, some not. Charlie Porter has some interesting ideas, though, at the end of the day I can’t play like he’s advocating (either). For me, when I practice in front of a mirror I’ve been trying to look more like people I admire for their chops: Wynton Marsalis, Maurice Andre etc, and anyone who seems to have the trumpet more or less centred on their face, playing easily, and not using jaw, tilt or extreme lip pressure/air pressure to play. I try and copy the set of the instrument on my face, see if I can imagine what they might be doing and see if I can make a sound the same way. Some other trumpet players have been an inspiration in the opposite direction–amazing musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Fergusson and others who sound incredible, but are doing what I don’t what to do in as much as their necks pop out and and they look like they’re going to explode. (Absolutely incredible musicians, but that’s not what we’re talking about.) And then there’s James Morrison, who sometimes looks to me like he’s doing it all ‘wrong’ (puffed cheeks etc), but apparently isn’t, and sounds nothing but ‘right’, all of the time. (Another incredible musician–I could only dream of being a bead of sweat in the armpit of his ability…but I don’t know how he does some of what he does on the trumpet without hurting himself.) Again, I’m not talking about musicality, just, ‘what is the most efficient way to get a sound out of the trumpet’ and ‘how do you play high, loud and for a long time without causing yourself injury’. I don’t know! But, like you, I came to the conclusion that what I was doing with tilt and pressure was/is not it. I don’t think it’s likely to be it if tilting the other way, either.

      Finding how to best work the instrument (as opposed to how best to play music) seems to be the point of the MTM course. The thing is, while I’d love to be able to play easily like Greg Spence is advocating, unlike Hajo, I haven’t been able to make that happen, yet. Maybe I’ll get it in time, too–we’ll see.

      I don’t know if any of this is likely to help you, but wanted you to know that your playing issues/concerns sound just like me/mine, and I may understand what you’re talking about and going through.

      If you come up with ‘the answer’ then let me know and we’ll both benefit!

    • #153142

      I made the same way you described.
      Watching Charly Porter and following his exercises.
      Observing the embouchure of good players
      Imitating there sounds etc.

      Today I know that every player is different.
      Every player looks different

      What we can see is only the outside part of the embouchure.
      After MtM I know that it is not important how it looks like.
      Important is what happened behind the mouthpiece.???
      Air, lips and tongue
      I can give all of you only one advice.
      Be patient and stay with the process!!!!
      Good luck

    • #153143
      Christopher Hall

      Thank you, Hajo!

    • #153176
      Rob Medina

      Chris and Hajo,
      Thanks for the insight! I agree there is a lot to the equation. I think I am on the right track with getting rid of forward jaw movement and jaw tension. I also don’t expect it to happen in the span of a few weeks or months. The MtM course has brought a lot of awareness to the limitations of my previous playing style and that is why I posted this question. I will post an update on this maybe a few months from now on progress. Of course, anyone who wants to share still should. This has been a helpful conversation and I hope to keep moving forward.

    • #153238
      Christopher Hall

      Hi Rob,

      Another thought I’ve been having on this topic lately (for me) is: maybe I tilt upwards a bit because of the shape of my teeth and jaw. Maybe that’s ok (?!) so long as there’s not too much tension??? I think this probably aligns with some of what Hajo was saying, too–probably everyone is different.

      For me, I was definitely exaggerating this jaw movement in the past, using too much pressure etc as noted in my post above. But, also, maybe some people just point up a bit (rather than tilting down)?

      I had conflicting advice on this many years ago which has caused me doubt and confusion (still). One former teacher said, essentially, that some people upstream, some downstream, doesn’t really matter, just “do what works for you” and “don’t try to change what you’re doing naturally”.

      However, another teacher, a very successful player in my region, easily the best/most proficient trumpet player I’ve ever been in the same room with for any length of time, let alone had lessons with, insisted on changing my embouchure to a downstream approach (like his). When someone that good (who is also a nice/good person!) gives you that sort of advice, you do your best to follow it. However, I couldn’t make it work and ended up damaging my top lip trying (from my teeth banging into them, I think, because I was pivoting too far down, I think, while trying to do what I thought was being advised), had minor surgery on the lip… and eventually gave up the trumpet for my second (and for the last 30-years, main!) instrument, the piano. The good news is that my piano playing improved (ha!). And I picked up guitar, too, along the way. (Why am I trying to play trumpet again? I forget.) And here we are today. (I picked up the trumpet again 18-months ago to work on it with my kids who are in school band).

      It’s difficult to know (for me) what’s best. I’m trying to follow Hajo’s advice, and, for now, am working my way back through the Wind Works program again from the start. I don’t know if this helps you or not, but maybe food for thought? Maybe teeth/jaw shape is a factor sometimes, too.

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