Embouchure Setting

Please describe the trumpet sound you want to hear?

Very centered and brilliant where you can hear the total resonance of the sound. Solid, but never overblown.
                                  - Jerry
Spit- Buzz (High C range)
Click for Demonstration
Double Pedal Tones
  Low C below the staff
Middle 3rd space C   High C and above

Master Superchops ~
What is the Master Superchops Embouchure?
Master Superchops is the purely physical technique necessary to play brass instruments with the greatest ease and finest sound. Though it has little to do with actual musicality, mastering it has everything to do with becoming a highly successful brass player - a musician producing clear, centered, and powerful sounds in all registers in perfect intonation without strain or overblowing.

What are the common pitfalls that get people off track in their development of Superchops?
They don’t dedicate themselves to carefully practicing this way. This is a “doing thing”. You have to do this very precisely until it becomes a habit. It takes 3 weeks to correctly form a habit. I believe if someone with an open mind very carefully practices this way for 3 weeks they’ll never want to go back to their old ways. I’m not saying they will be a virtuoso in 3 weeks. But, they will never want to go back.

The Tongue-Stop ~
To end each tone, should we use the tongue or the lungs?
Air flow should always be stopped by the tongue. The tongue-stop serves two equally important functions. First, it sets up the air for each articulation and second, it stops the air at the end of each tone. The second step correctly sets up the tongue for the next articulation. This technique is essential for rapid, precise, in-tune articulation. If you let the tongue come back after every articulation you let too much air into the mouthpiece cup and the tone goes flat after every attack. Train your ears to hear this all-too-common intonation problem and you will be well on your way to a whole new level of playing. When done correctly, your ears teach your tongue!

The Spit Buzz ~
Please define the action and importance of the Spit Buzz.
It is best to see the spit buzz in two phases. Before you make the actual attack, the tongue stops the air by touching both lips. We call this a tongue-stop. The air is then released by a spitting action much like spitting a hair off the top of the tongue. At the precise moment of the spit buzz the released air causes a vibration of the lips. Every time you begin a new attack you must first stop the air with the tongue. In other words, an air-stop precedes every articulation, not just the first of a series. Most players are trying to blow the air first. You must change this very bad habit. Blowing the air first produces a wider, spread sound without the core, focus, and perfect pitch we are striving for.

About the Tongue ~
To repeat, you want a distinct tongue articulation at both the start and end of the tone?
Yes, always. Actually, the stop is the start, the start of the next sound. You must think this way.

You say the tongue is thickened by resistance. Is there resistance from the teeth?
Most of the resistance comes from the grip of the lower lip. However, there is also some resistance from the top teeth. The air you are blowing goes over the tongue and under the top teeth. With the proper use of the lower lip, we direct the tongue to come closer to the top teeth and stay there. This gives you more brilliance, more power, and eventually, a much easier upper register with greatly increased endurance and less strain.

Are there good ways away from the trumpet to properly strengthen the tongue?
Absolutely. I do spit buzzing away from the horn for at least 20 minutes a day. When your tongue gets strong enough to articulate and do a tongue- stop then you are well on your way. You must think of a percussive attack, like beating a snare drum or hitting a small bell. A tongue-attack combined with a tongue-stop provides the cleanest, clearest articulation possible regardless of style.

Breathing ~
What is the proper way to breathe and blow?
Many players talk about taking a full yoga breath. In a full yoga breath one fills all the way from the bottom and all the way to the top. This is not helpful for any brass instrument including the tuba. You need only about 1/3 as much air as most players currently use. I like to use the upper chest while pulling the lower stomach in a little bit. But don’t inhale fully! If you have too much air on the intake your sound will get harsh and blasty and you may get light headed as well.

What is the problem with overblowing?
We’ve talked about a harsh sound plus lightheadedness. More importantly, when you overblow you cannot precisely control pitch. This causes your sound to spread even worse than having a bad attack. Also, let’s say you are overblowing for a high C and need a high F. How much added pressure do you now need? And, where are you going to get it? Blowing hard is an extremely inefficient and non-musical way to ascend in register.

How do we use less air and still get sound volume?
Volume of sound is based on air compression, not air volume. Efficient compression is done inside the mouth before the air hits the lips. The goal in spit buzzing is to play from C below the staff to the 1st C above the staff without horn or mouthpiece. If you can spit buzz these two octaves you have an embouchure strong enough to play anything.

Interviewer: Dr. Kyle Schmeer, DMA

"You are warmly welcome for questions and discussion of my teaching pedagogy – There is no charge for this. The MASTER SUPERCHOPS DVD greatly expands my teachings in order to bring Superchops to every musician."      - Jerry