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Thread: Embouchure!

  1. Embouchure!

    Greetings, and apologies in advance. I have been searching, searching, and more searching of back threads for information on all aspects of Euphonium playing. There is an amazing amount of it here. I must say, however, as it concerns embouchure placement, I haven't so far seen any. As a long time (relatively) Horn player, we obsess about things embouchure. The mouthpiece MUST be placed 2/3 upper lip/1/3 lower lip or else! As I understand it, all other brass use the opposite or perhaps 50/50 and so you can have 'upstream players' and 'downstream players'. I personally CANNOT play Horn with the classic embouchure and I self adopted a 2/3 lower lip to 1/3 upper lip placement to fairly good effect. I covered a full 4 octaves and to get to pedals (and double pedals) shifted to a more conventional looking embouchure. This 'shift' is/was obviously a huge technical fault. I know of one other successful professional Hornist using this approach and attempted to correspond with him but he never responded to my initial e-mail. I don't know if he never got it (I had to use his academic affiliation as an intermediary) or he just wasn't interested because of workload or otherwise.

    Water under the bridge. I spent some time last year with a rented Trombone and a 6.5AL mouthpiece and found myself immediately adopting my usual lower lip dominant embouchure. In the highest octave I was right at the top of the mouthpiece. When I look at players like Steven Mead and Dave Werden, it 'looks' from the outside like the top of the mouthpiece is right under the septum's of their noses. This might indicate an upper lip bias in their embouchure's? Norlan Bewley on his Low Brass site recognizes three placements and doesn't appear to judge any of them as better than any other. What about present company? Is there a consensus?

    I have a chance, perhaps, with Euphonium to start with sound fundamentals. If I know what they are. When I started Horn, the Internet was just transitioning from a text based Lynx browser infrastructure to the kind of World Wide Web we have today. I couldn't then and still cannot now justify the cost of lessons beyond, perhaps, a few early introductions. I guess what I am trying to find out is: do Euphonium players judge results by what feels right or by understanding the rules that have been established for their instrument in teaching materials? I understand the concept of 'warm air' and I do notice that much more is written about the kind of airstream a player should use to get a characteristic tone, but little or nothing is written about how the lips should be working in the mouthpiece. Any thoughts gratefully appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    West Palm Beach, FL
    There have been a lot of views of your post but no response as yet.

    I’m no expert but I subscribe to the theory ‘use what works’. I’m about a 50/50 player myself - half upper and half lower. My embouchure has to be a little to the right of center because of my teeth structure. I have noticed that most horn players do have their embouchure mostly on the upper lip as in this video of the Vienna horns playing Jurassic Park... but not all.

    Maybe someone else can add their opinion.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank

    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    Russian Christmas Music (Alfred Reed)
    El Relicario (Jose Padilla; arr. R. Longfield)

  3. #3
    I should copy and paste what Rick just said, because he nailed it for me. I'm not an expert, either.

    Look at this video of Bente Illevold. She plays very easily in all registers, and her top/bottom lips appear to be about equally used. It's a good place to start, anyway.

    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  4. #4
    Mine is also about 50/50 and a tad off center as well, but just a tiny bit, and same reason as Rick - due to my teeth structure.. Finding the "right" position and percentage of upper and lower lip is a very individual thing. Once your own position has been settled on (based on sound, feel, your own physical makeup), it is best to use that throughout the range of your horn. "Resetting" an embouchure to hit high or low notes is, in my opinion, not efficient and can slow you down when trying to play technical passages with wide ranges. To check and work on keeping a consistent embouchure, do slurs from low notes to high notes with various valve combinations and hit all the notes in between the bottom and upper notes. Keeping your embouchure steady. Then try practicing wide interval jumps without "resetting" your embouchure.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  5. Without writing a long dissertation about my background, let me just say I have experience with trumpet, french horn and baritone. I also have many mouthpieces for each. I will point out that depending on the mouthpiece, the embouchure setup changes. That means diameter, depth, bore size, cup shape and backbore all influence the style of embouchure. The mouthpiece will influence the use of aperture control and tongue arch usage and percentages of each. One of the problems with asking players what works, is that beyond their physical attributes, the equipment will also influence them. They may not realize this at all. So one player will say one thing and another argue that the first player has it all wrong.

    When playing my baritone, if I use a certain mouthpiece, I'm a 50/50 type. Using another, I'm a 2/3 - 1/3 type. Now also know that I love playing with mouthpieces. They all give different responses and i switch frequently just for fun.

    Now I can't wait for all of the players to scream, "No, I play the same on completely different equipment!"

    1935 Conn 64I Baritone
    Mouthpieces: Too many to list and growing

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    I generally have a consistent 50/50 split between upper and lower lip, but when I go into the high register I move to a 1/3 upper lip-2/3 lower lip. If a mouthpiece becomes too deep, has too big of a throat or generally has too little backpressure for me or the rim is too thin (the SM4U is right on that line for me), I have trouble anchoring the mouthpiece on my face so it kind of keeps shifting.
    The smaller I go in mouthpiece size, the more I have a 1/3 upper lip embouchure. Maybe it's a leftover from when I had a 6mm overbite between my upper and lower jaw as a kid.

  7. You guys rock. This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by leisesturm View Post
    You guys rock. This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for!
    You may consider contacting Doug Eliiott at his website

    Doug has helped a lot of people with embouchure placement issues.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Smoketown, Pa
    There is a book out there or was out there by Philip Farkas titled the art of Brass Playing which my euphonium teacher had me buy. It was copyrighted in 1962 so I'm not sure if is obtainable or not. Don't remember exactly content as 5 chapters were devoted to the embouchure. I bought this book in 1964 or 65. I had 4 teachers (professors) for euphonium during college. One was like a student teacher from a local symphony and one was for two semesters of trombone and euphonium. I use kind of a combination of what I was taught with about 1/3 on the lower lip. I try to use a bit of inflation to keep the pressure off the chops. That works well for me even in the higher range. Right now I don't have any students but use this method with students with braces in particular.
    B&S 3046 Baritone/Euphonium
    B&S PT33-S Euphonium
    B&S PT37-S
    Schilke ST20 Tenor Trombone


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