The amount of equipment resistance have much influence on aperture size. If the equipment is tight, the aperture must be opened up or the player must use an embouchure with little resistance. Open equipment will allow the player to play with a more closed aperture or use a more resistant embouchure.
If the trumpet player feels the resistance increase in the higher register, this might not be an equipment problem. It can also have something to do with the setup, like how far the jaw is pushed out, if the lower lip is allowed to recede, the angle of the trumpet or the mouthpiece placement. This should be investigated before one puts a lot of money into a new and expensive instrument.
Gary Radtke has a great site that describes the detailes of the mouhtpiece.
For more on mouthpiece selection, I think the mouthpiece booklet from the Storks is a must for any trumpet player. The book The No Nonsense Trumpet from A-Z is also excellent in this respect.
Nothing beats getting personal advice from a great mouthpiece maker.
The way of playing is to a great deal influenced by the rim size (related to the players lip size.) I will try to explain what happens when playing a big rim diameter and a small rim diameter.
I think that no method of playing is more correct than another. But
it can be nice to know that one can change the way of playing more easily
if the mouthpiece facilitates the new way of playing.
I have played both big and small rim diameters, and would not recommend one over the other. Choose the rim that suits your goals the best!
Very big diameter mouthpieces is only possible to play efficiently with a moving corner technique. The corners are brought inwards and supported by the cheek muscles. If this is done correctly, range will not be limited by the aperture thinning out.
Big diameters takes more muscle work than smaller diamters. The lips will vibrate freely inside the rim, giving a full sound.
This way of playing is very often used by lead and jazz players, playing smaller equipment. The sound tends to be more compact than larger diameter mouthpieces.
Starting with you current rim.
I did lots of experiments at home with different screw rim and underpart combination. What puzzled me the most, was that there did not seem to be much system when it came to the summed resistance. Rims seemed more important than underparts. The reason for this is that different rim and cup combination causes alpha and length to vary greatly.
Low alpha rims have little resistance, and are not very pitch sensitive to arm pressure.
High alpha rims have more resistance, and are pitch sensitive regarding arm pressure.
Players with thick lips or a protruding embouchure usually need rims with a low alpha. If the slope is not steep enough, the lips will touch the sides of the cup, cutting off sound.
An important feature of the bite is that it stabilizes the embouchure, aiding in security and endurance by keeping the lips in place. Players with soft and thick lips will benefit from a defined bite more than thin lipped players.
A softer bite will make the mouhtpiece feel larger.
A bonus of a defined bite, is that it aids the player to feel the embouchure placement, especially in avoiding getting into the red.
A round rim impoves control because of less friction with the lips. If it is too rounded, it might feel like being a bit sharp, being uncomfortable for the player. For players with thick lips, a rim that is a little rounded might give the optimum comfort.
Rim width is important regarding flexibility. The surface acts as a resistance to lip movement. Thick lips will feel this more than thinner lips. Therefore, thin lipped players often prefer wider rims than those having thicker lips.
A wider rim means more contact with the face, which will reduce pressure on the lips. This increases endurance. If more endurance is required, but flexibility must be maintainted, the outside radius might be enlarged to increase contact area.
What is interesting, is that the same size rim feels like it is different sized according to cup depth. A shallow cup feels narrower, while a deep cup feels wider.
Players that pucker might need deeper mouthpieces.
Players that does not pucker (move the corners inward for the high notes), might feel comfortable on shallow mouthpieces. Because of the rolling in, the lips does not stick very far into the mouhtpiece. Very many fine players play without moving the corners. Comercial style mouthpieces on big trumpets might work.
Those who roll in and pucker at the same time, often do better on deeper and more open mouthpieces. The pucker, even if the lips are rolled in, makes the lips go a little deeper into the mouthpiece. Also, a narrower rim is required to allow more freedom for moving the corners inward. Mouthpieces with deeper cups and lower alpha rims might work well.
I used to believe that switching mouthpieces was impossible. I might
use different mouthpieces, but when warming up on one mouthpiece, this
had to be used for the rest of the session.
There was one event that changed all this. I started to use the Bobby Shew warmup employing lip fluttering ("horse lips") and lip buzzing. I believe this makes a larger portion of the lips vibrate, making the tissue softer. Always using the same rim and doing no lip buzzing, this tissue will be much stiffer then the tissue inside the mouthpiece. This makes switching mouthpieces more difficult, especially switching to a bigger rim diameter.
The result of my new warmup was that switching mouthpieces became a possibility. I even have switched mouthpieces (different rim sizes) during concert.
Switching mouthpieces demands a mental adjustment, because every mouthpiece must be played a bit differently. A bigger mouthpiece demands more lip tension than a small lead mouthpiece.
There is one great advantage of playing a big mouthpiece part of the time. It certainly gives the embouchure more of a workout. Playing only a lead mouthpiece, many players feel their embouchure muscles disappearing. Especially for us with little time to practice, it becomes more important that the embouchure gets a sensible workload.
Nick Drozdoff has more on using the
right mouthpiece for the right job.
Copyright (c) Rune Aleksandersen 1997 - 2002