I firmly believe that
a trumpeter must use his or her body as a vessel or engine to both
create and sustain the energy required in performance. The trumpeter
must always initially travel through the physical first, to eventually
arrive at the musical destination. In clinics I always compare the
trumpeter's body or vessel to a powerful vehicle engine. The embouchure
is not the center of energy for the trumpeter but it is rather in
the solar plexus, where the true engine resides, hence the term,
"a strong lip" is truly a misinformed conception. The
function of the embouchure itself is to create the proper alignment
and compression required to hold the mouthpiece in correct position,
while our airstream or fuel is channeled through our oral cavity,
then projected through our instrument and beyond.
As with a vehicle engine, the center of energy is of course the
engine itself, but without the proper alignment of the front end
and tires, the vehicle is in effect useless. The trumpeter's engine
resides in the solar plexus and its alignment resides in the embouchure.
In ascending and descending, the embouchure travels along a track
or pivot. This can be proven by observing yourself performing
in front of a mirror, ascending from low "C" to high
"C" and beyond before returning to the initial note.
You will notice a minuscule movement of the musculature, hence
the "track" that was mentioned earlier. It is necessary
that the corners of the embouchure generate the required compression
and serve as a kind of "seat belt" to allow the embouchure
to remain in correct alignment and track position to channel the
tremendous energy generated by our solar plexus and airstream
The embouchure has many idiosyncrasies including teeth and jaw
formations, teeth and lip apertures, tongue positions and the
use of lubrication to allow our muscular movement to, in effect,
"glide" rather than "slide" along our track
or pivot. The embouchure is in effect a "fuel injector",
when functioning properly can produce an enormously effect result,
but when not can cause one to consider a second career--perhaps
as a MORTICIAN!
Our lip tissue itself can be regenerated by the use of aloe vera
gel, a miraculous substance I was exposed to many years ago by
both Dizzy Gillespie and Bobby Shew. As one of natures greatest
healing agents, daily use of this aide can serve to reinvigorate
the small circumference that must physically create the musical
thoughts we ultimately hope to express. As a trumpeter, we need
any friend we can make!
Finally, I wish to express my most sincere gratitude posthumously
to two gentleman who had dedicated their entire lives to the study
of the trumpeter's embouchure; Dr. Donald Reinhardt and Roy Stevens.
Performing on the trumpet is like riding a roller coaster; it
can scare you to death , but you can't wait to get back on!