Hi Greg and forum,
I’ve been doing the course for 3months and it’s great, really enjoying it and I’m noticing positive changes bit by bit.
One thing I was wondering for myself and a particular student of mine is how much does lip size matter? Should all of the red be inside the mouthpiece/cup? In my situation it can feel like my mpc alters my lips without me doing any thing as my bottom lip isnt completely inside the cup. It is very marginal.
Lips come in an interesting variety of shapes. I envy those that have a little bird beak smack dab in the middle of the upper lip. I have a little bump left of center an a little bump right of center and a hint of a cleavage in between.
I tried putting all the pink inside the mouthpiece once but couldn’t get my mustache to buzz so I gave it up.
I buzzed right of center and eventually was able to move the mouthpiece on center but guess what, i still buzz right of center.🤫🤪
I’m an amateur comeback player on this journey as well, so I don’t consider myself an authority, but FWIW, my understanding is that the top lip is most important. I have been having success the past couple months with “hiding the red” when setting the mouthpiece on my lips then moving my lips apart (top up and bottom down) as I get the lips and take a breath. I do the ooooh ahhh thing and check to see if I’m buzzing by pulling the mouthpiece out as I blow, etc. And my lips seem more forward than rolled in or tucked–I think I was doing that back in high school, in fact I recall being told to roll my bottom lip in or under as I ascended….which now doesn’t make sense to me.
That’s working for me. I’m having great sensations and my range and control is increasing, not out of strength or endurance but seemingly out of coordination of tightening the corners of the embouchure/aperture and arching my tongue in the back but getting the front of my tongue down and out of the way (I think I was putting the tip of my tongue too high and blocking the air column before) while trying to keep my throat open and relaxed. I’ve been thinking of it lately as patting my head and rubbing my stomach at the same time–kind of that focused effort of coordination, using my mind to actively control my different muscles in my mouth and throat (relaxed).
I’ve also been focusing on backing off the air and trying to use the minimum amount of movement necessary–I think I was doing way too much previously but the space between the notes as we ascend gets closer and closer, so it seems that less incremental movement would be needed the higher we ascend.
The only thing I would add, however, is that I have not been able to to play shallow mouthpieces (i.e. 3E) without bottoming out, but I have never in my life previously played shallow mouthpieces so I can’t say that what I’m doing is wrong. It feels and sounds good to me but I haven’t figured out how to play shallow mouthpieces yet.
My lips are on the thinner side and I went back to playing a 7C–I had moved to a 5C then 3C but things started falling apart on me so I decided to go back to basics and that’s working for me. But I’m eager to try out some shallower / brighter mouthpieces once I feel like playing has become more second nature / automatic to me.
Look at the professor’s video where he plays the trumpet with a balloon. I’m going to throw this out there: Lips don’t matter. OK, they do, but not in the way we think they do. After working through MTM to a high level, I’m convinced lip buzzing in a mouthpiece is a symptom of sound in the horn and body, not what produces the sound. In fact, I will propose that lips typically get in the way by if you blow too hard, apply too much pressure, or use a mouthpiece that simply doesn’t allow your aperture to be open.
Ever look closely out how Faddis plays? What do you think he thinks of the center of his lips?
In the end, it’s Greg’s elusive “shape” that matters. It’s such a personal thing. Shape is a combination of aperture and mouth cavity (which produces a resonant cavity) and body cavity. The body cavity is an energy reservoir, the mouth cavity is the note-selection resonant cavity. The only way to find the shape is through trial and error, say, by using a controlled experiment like the entire Windworks course!
If you’re trolling the web, check out Charlie Porter’s whisper tones. Try to produce a whisper tone on a G in the staff. Do it while you are doing soft long tones. It’s an amazing experience. There is resonant sound in the horn, but the lips do not buzz!
I also historically have had trouble playing shallow mouthpieces. I have a Bobby Shew lead I take out once in a while when I’m feeling like I I want to test out my lead sound. I do better with a Warburtun 3M and J29 backbore. Probably similar to a 3D? Typically, with a shallow mouthpiece, I can scream for a short time, then I bottom out. The lips just get in the way. I believe I’m just blowing too hard. You are probably correct in focusing on less air for a shallow mouthpiece.
Here’s the thing: I do all of my Windworks work on a Bach 1x. I can actually get quite a strong sound out of that, even in high register playing. I just can’t play loud and high for very long. For practice, though, I find it so comfortable, I worry less about the lips and can really focus on process. Then, in results practice, it sounds damn nice, which is good for the feedback loop. So, for me, I’ve settled on a setup that is #1: Comfortable, #2 sounds good to me. I pull out the Warburton for when I’m playing with a funk band.
As I work through the course, I’m sure there will be much more I learn about how to play various mouthpieces.
Thank for the feedback. Paul is a great teacher with some great ideas. I’m also totally on board with what everyone is saying. I guess for me personally, I wonder if my mpc diameter is quite right for allowing my lips to oscillate in the m2m way. It feels like my mpc kind of pushes some of my bottom lip tissue over my bottom teeth which causes excess resistance. Im definitely not pinching.I wonder if a slightly wider mpc would stop that happening or if it’s more to do with shape etc.