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Thread: Greetings, Salutations, and a question (long)

  1. Greetings, Salutations, and a question (long)

    Hello Everyone:

    After a 30-year hiatus, I purchased a Jupiter model 474 3-valve student euphonium this week (12/19) online from Woodwind and Brasswind. My girlfriend and I went out for lunch today (12/22) and when we returned, much to my surprise, there was my horn sitting on the front porch 4 days early, even though I chose the free shipping option! Don't know why the FedEx guy would leave such an expensive package without a signature, but I'm not complaining! He probably figured it was a Christmas gift and I needed it right away. It's a beautiful instrument--much nicer than the nasty, crusty, stinky loaners I played in junior high!

    So I rush down to my local music store and pick up a couple of trumpet books. I figure I'll rip off a couple of scales to warm up and then play a few tunes. WRONG! While attempting to play the C Major scale, it took me several attempts to find the first note, and several more attempts to play a recognizable scale. And I sounded baaaaaad!!! At this point, I'm thinking some lessons may be necessary just to produce a decent tone, but I will practice for a couple of months and see what happens. I'm basically an absolute beginner who happens to be able to read music.

    My question is this: can anyone recommend a good small shank mouthpiece for someone with a weak embouchure? The only one I can find online which may be of help is the Bach model 15C small shank tenor trombone mouthpiece.

    A bit about my embouchure, if it will help:
    I have a slight overbite, my bottom teeth are very crooked, and my bottom lip (or more precisely, the fold beneath my bottom lip) protrudes--it looks as if I constantly have a wad of chewing tobacco in there!

    I realize that given my physical limitations, I am never going to be a virtuoso. For now, I just want to get back to the level I was at 30 years ago and hopefully improve from there. I want to be able to have fun playing with family and friends and maybe one day join a community band or orchestra.

    Sorry this is so long--I'm just really excited to be getting back into music again. Thank you for taking the time to read it. Any suggestions you can make would be greatly appreciated.

    Happy Holidays!

  2. Greetings, Salutations, and a question (long)

    Hello EuphNewbie!
    Welcome back to the world of Euphonium, and welcome to the forum! Here is the only advice that I can give you regarding mouthpiece size: there is no mouthpiece out there that can do the work for you, or that will automatically give you a good sound or a good embouchure. All of that is upto you. However, there certainly are mouthpieces that are standards for people to start on. I wouldn't recomend that you start on anything smaller than a 12C. A 12C is even a bit small, but it is a mouthpiece that, because of it's size, would aid you in your development as you regain the strength of your embouchure. Then again, because of the physical dimensions of your lips/mouth/teeth, you may actually feel more physically comfortable on a mouthpiece that is a little bit bigger, like a 6 1/2 AL. The best thing you can do is go to a music store and try out some mouthpieces and see what is comfortable.... Congratulations, on your purchase, and your return to the Euphonium!
    Gregory E. Lopes
    Euphonium player
    US Navy Band Great Lakes
    US Navy Music Program, 2009-Present

    Besson Prestige 2052

  3. Greetings, Salutations, and a question (long)


    I'm in the same boat as you, really. I just got my euphonium about three weeks ago, and I never even played a brass instrument before.

    I'm betting that the mouthpiece on your new Jupiter is about the equivalent of the 6 1/2 AL so many people start out with. It's what's on mine right now, too.

    I wouldn't worry all that much at the moment about the mouthpiece, but would concentrate on blowing long tones, listening carefully to them and trying to get a nice euphy sound.

    Start those scales, but play each note, again, as a long tone, focusing on the best sound you can make, and thinking about what note you're playing and the fingering you're using.

    Next, do lip slurs to refamiliarize yourself with the feel of the different partials and to build your range. As you progress, try some simple bugle calls...they're really good for that job, too.

    Find some nice simple music to play, too, and work on those pieces until you play them nicely and with a good sound.

    Anyhow, that's what I'm doing with my new horn, and my wife said yesterday that I was really starting to sound nice. That's a big change from the day I got my new old euphonium. The song I was playing was "I'll be Home for Christmas," one of my favorite Christmas songs.


  4. Greetings, Salutations, and a question (long)

    15C is definately a bit too small, I agree with Greg, a 12C or 6.5 AL is probably the way to go to start out. However, once you've gained some strength with your embouchure you might want to take a look at something a bit deeper like a Schilke 51D. That being said, the mouthpiece that came with it is probably similar to the 12C or 6.5 AL, and the big thing to do will just be to practice and build up your chops! The more you practice the easier it will be to find the notes and the better the sound will get!

    Steve L.

  5. #5

    Greetings, Salutations, and a question (long)

    I would recommend staying away from the 12C if possible. i would say either 6.5 AL or 48L. maybe a 5G?

  6. Greetings, Salutations, and a question (long)

    I've got to agree. But I will add that right now the mouthpiece is not the problem (sorry).

    I would suggest major practice on stuff lower than the tuning concert Bb. Work on the low register below the Bass Staff. As above do this on a 6 1/2 Al or larger. Then when your chops have some muscle tone you might want to look at other mouthpieces.

    I would suggest very deep mouthpieces with wide rims. Like the 6 1/2 Al, 5G, SM5 or SM 6 (Wick). The real large Cup (large diameter) may be to large unless you find your lips need the bigger cup.

    A wider rim will spread the pressure around and have a better chance of contact with your face. You may also find that you want a couple of lessons with a professional (soon) to have them look at your posture, ambrouchure, fingers and warmup routine. Re-starting seems to be harder because we tend to remember how we were and forget how we are today.

  7. Greetings, Salutations, and a question (long)

    Long, low, soft notes. I'd second the idea about getting at least one lesson sooner than later to avoid getting some bad habits. I think the 6.5 AL is the best all-round starter, just to get your chops back. Then, look for something that works with your facial structure to optimize your playing.

    Give yourself time! My euph arrived about 11 months ago, and it took a solid month to get to where I was in junior high. Read some of the posts on this site for some good suggestions on improving range and the like. Happy playing!!


  8. Greetings, Salutations, and a question (long)

    Thank you for all of the great advice, everyone!

    Based on your recommendations, I picked up a Bach 6 1/2 AL. It has a wider rim than the 5GB that came with my horn; I will work with both and see which works better for me.

    With the holidays, I haven't had much time to practice, but I did work on playing long, low tones for about an hour yesterday, and it really seemed to help. After about half an hour I could occasionally play some decent sounding tones, although it's still pretty hit and miss. Tried some bugle calls too, but I'm not quite ready for those yet--maybe in a week or two.

    I was going to work on learning to read bass clef--I originally started out on trumpet and switched to "baritone" after two years because of the embouchure issue, so I never really learned it (hence my treble clef avatar). I used to fake it on bass clef by penciling in the fingerings under the notes. But I think I have enough on my plate for now just working on getting my chops back.

    And I agree that I should take some lessons now to avoid developing bad habits.

    Thanks again, and Happy New Year!

  9. #9

    Greetings, Salutations, and a question (long)

    Originally posted by: EuphNewbie
    I was going to work on learning to read bass clef--I originally started out on trumpet and switched to "baritone" after two years because of the embouchure issue, so I never really learned it (hence my treble clef avatar). I used to fake it on bass clef by penciling in the fingerings under the notes. But I think I have enough on my plate for now just working on getting my chops back.
    This is the perfect time to learn bass clef and get your chops back simultaneously! I was in a similar situation about 18 months ago, and I can tell you that it is not hard. Here's how:

    1. Get Arban's, bass clef of course. There are several additions, the one I've been using is the Randall & Mantia one.
    [EDITOR NOTE: you can find the Arban here: Arban/Randall Bass Clef Book ]

    2. Start with the scale section. The scales are great for almost everything, but specifically strengthing your embouchure, getting your fingering coordination back and learning bass clef.

    3. Don't try to transpose in your head from treble to bass. Just use Arban's to learn it naturally. I have found that I can switch between bass back to treble with no problem, so don't worry about "forgetting" treble.

    Next steps are to explore all of Arban's and join a band. Best wishes for 2008!

    - Carroll

  10. Greetings, Salutations, and a question (long)

    I can attest to what Carroll is saying about just learn what the new notes are, only I've been doing it from bass clef to trebble clef! Been playing some euph-trumpet duets using some recorder arrangements I did when I was in college (range and key signatures are more friendly than most of the TubaChristmas stuff for my beginning trumpet player buddy) so I am just plain learining the trebble clef fingerings. So far, I haven't noticed a problem switching back to bass clef (or tuba, for that matter).

    Scales, hymns, Christmas songs, all to help with learning new fingerings!

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