Standard trumpet embouchure: The player in this picture uses the most common trumpet embouchure: the mouthpiece is in the center of the mouth, not too high or too low, and the corners are firm.

Standard embouchure, high register: When this player hits a high C, very little changes about his facial position except for a noticeable bunching of the chin. The mouthpiece is still in exactly the same place.

Despite the fact that this particular player has what might fairly be called a textbook embouchure, many players do not. Embouchure depends largely upon dental structure and is by no means consistent from player to player. Therefore, it is imperative that every instructor understand that there is no “one size fits all” solution. However, there are a few general guidelines:

  • The mouthpiece should be approximately centered on the lips—not too high or low, and not too far to one side or the other. Some horizontal off-centereness is acceptable, especially if a protruding tooth makes it uncomfortable to place the mouthpiece in the center of the lips.
  • Since the top lip is the one that vibrates, it is particularly important that the mouthpiece not be placed too low, bringing the rim into contact with the red of the upper lip. This type of placement will severely impair a student’s ability to hit high notes.
  • Corners should be firmed, either where they naturally rest when the mouth is relaxed, or slightly below the line of the mouth (if the student is to bring the lower jaw forward).
  • Students with a large overbite should consider aligning the teeth when they play (corners will be down-turned) in order to maximize efficiency. This position requires extra support from the facial muscles, which may be challenging for a first-time player.

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2 thoughts on “Embouchure

  1. May 1, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Do you have any other helpful information for someone who is having to deal with a significant overbite? I can play with my jaw moved out so that my lower teeth are even with my upper teeth.


  2. bmhendr1
    May 1, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Hi, Scott,

    It’s hard to know what to suggest for you without actually seeing your embouchure (feel free to shoot me an email with pictures if you want). I myself have an overbite, and I play the way you are describing–I bring my lower jaw forward, which aligns my teeth. I made this adjustment while studying with David Hickman at ASU and did so using his “15 Advanced Embouchure Studies” book. I would recommend that book as a good one to start with if you’re working without a teacher’s supervision, because the exercises he uses are only playable with a highly efficient embouchure. Thus, they can be used as a kind of benchmark to help identify what an ideal setup might look like for a given person.

    Hope this helps!

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