A Conversation for Trumpets

Ombiture... (ahm-bish-shure)

Post 1

Cheezdanish, Slacker Princess

Is what you need to play a trumpet, not just a bronx cheer smiley - winkeye

Ombiture is the tension of your lip and cheek muscles when you blow into the horn. First, you need to slightly grimace, while at the same time, pulling your lips into a puckery kissy shape. Then, you need to apply the mouthpiece to said kissy, and THEN blow your raspberry, whilst containing small pockets of air in your cheeks. This was taken into extremes by the late, great Dizzy Gillespie, who you may have seen pictures of with his largely distended cheeks.

Ombiture... (ahm-bish-shure)

Post 2

Gnomon - time to move on

The way you hold your mouth when playing the trumpet, or any other wind instrument, is called "embouchure" and is pronounced "ahm-boo-shoor". It is a French word which literally means "the way you hold your mouth". The embouchure for a trumpet is tight lipped as Cheezydanish has said. For a tuba, the embouchure needs to be much more relaxed. The ultimate loose-lipped embouchure is that needed for the didjeridoo.

Ombiture... (ahm-bish-shure)

Post 3


This is not strictly true. A trumpet player does not simply buzz his/her lips to make a noise. Although this is often a start, the whole process is a bit more complicated.

All noise is created by air vibrating and frequencies are created by air vibrating at different speeds. Brass players control this through a combination of their embrouture and diaphragm. The embrouture takes into account not only the lips and facial muscles, but also the position of the tounge. If you whistle it is very much the same principle: to go higher you will raise your tounge, thus squeezing the air through faster (imagine a hosepipe that needs speeding up, you can squeeze the end to create a faster jet), and to go lower your tounge decends in your mouth.

This is combined with correct breathing which, when controlled properly by the diaphragm, can considerably increase or decrease airspeed at a given time to produce higher or lower tones respectivley. The idea that one should increase the presure of the mouthpiece is flawed as it can put enormous strain on the lips and facial muscles. Similarly, puffing out the cheeks is often a bad idea also as it reduces the number of facial muscles available to the player, thus compromising control and encouraging fatigue.

Brass instruments and the trumpet in particular are increadably physical instruments to play, and the importance of teaching the correct methods to students from the start can not be underestimated. I should know, I was taught wrongly at first and an still trying to rid myself of bad habits, even as a professional.

Ps, I think Dizzy's cheeks were perhaps a result of a either circular breathing techniques (which require cheek air pockets) or a strange embrochure that it is probably inadvisable to copy (probably both)

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