Off Center Mouthpiece Placement – Trumpet Tutorial

Off Center Mouthpiece Placement – Trumpet Tutorial


Hello everyone today, we’re going to talk about playing off to the side! Now this video does not apply to everybody because not everybody plays off to the side, but I think it’s very important for me to talk about this because usually when people discuss this topic it’s in the context of “should you play off to the side?” “Or should you not play off to the side?” Most traditional trumpet teachers believe that you should not play off to the side. And that’s where the argument usually ends is and and The argument ends with no progress on either side the people who believe that it’s okay to play off to the side haven’t changed their Mind and the people who believe that it’s not okay, they haven’t changed their mind either Okay, but what I’m here to do is give you a little bit more insight And also some information about how you can deal with playing to the side personally I play to the side because of my teeth structure. I’m not going to show them to you But I have three sharp points in my teeth that I have to get the mouthpiece around. If I don’t get the mouthpiece around those three sharp points. I will bleed on a tough gig. Alright? I know this from experience. That is, by the way, why I play on such huge mouthpieces. I would rather not play on big mouthpieces, but I’ve got three of these things and it has to go around all three. And it’s also why I don’t play traditional brands like Bach. Because the Bach mouthpieces don’t get to the sizes that we can get from some of the more custom mouthpiece makers. Alright? So, that’s the only reason why I ever left the Bach mouthpieces and so now the question is Why do people think that everyone has to play in the middle? I think that’s a preposterous idea! Not everybody has the same teeth shape. Not everybody has the same musculature. There are a variety of reasons why people would play to the side and if you’re one of those people that has one of those reasons then the conversation about “should you?” or “should you not?” is irrelevant Right? Okay, so, what we’re going to talk about is how to play off to the side. Now! The first and most important thing that I teach about playing to the side is that the instrument should point in the direction that your embouchure is. So let me show you how far off to the side my embouchure is… my mouthpiece placement… The inner rim of the mouthpiece sits dead center on my lip. That’s how far off mine is. I’m all the way over here. If I measure it with fingers, I can put two fingers from the corner of my lip to the edge of the mouthpiece, on this side. On this side… barely one finger. Less than one finger on this side. That’s how far off I am. Okay? I guess you could say 15 degrees off in that direction. I’m guessing! That’s what it feels like. So when you’re playing to the side, you have to move the instrument to the side. Otherwise… So what we don’t want in trumpet playing, and this is for everybody, we don’t want unequal pressure on different sides of the mouthpiece. We want equal pressure across. That’s going to give you a better sound, going to give you better better control, better flexibility, better endurance… Okay? We want equal pressure on all sides of the mouthpiece, but if you’re playing to the side and trying to hold the horn straight, then you’re putting all that pressure here and almost no pressure over here, and you can’t play like that. You’re gonna… The biggest thing that happens when you have that, is you’re going to start cracking notes. You’re going to crack notes all over the ,place. Alright? So. what you want to do is angle the instrument in the same angle that the embouchure is… that the mouthpiece placement is… that way you have equal pressure on this side and this side. Okay? Now… I discovered a way to find that exact angle by accident! I was doing the Clark Herbert L Clarke Setting Up Drills. Now this was ten years after I had written my first book. By that time I had written maybe five or six different books and I had my own routine that I was doing. But I was also… at the same time, I was doing other more popular routines, because I wanted to have that familiarity with all the different ways to practice. Not for my sake, but for the sake of my students. I don’t just teach my way. Okay? I have learned as many different ways to practice as possible so that when a student comes in here, I can give them what I think is the best solution for their problems. My (personal) solution isn’t always the right solution. It’s often the correct solution, I know that sounds kind of arrogant, but I wouldn’t have written the books if I didn’t think they worked so, yeah, you can call it arrogant if you want, but I have a lot of confidence and the materials that I’ve written. But that said, I I have over this time experimented and so like for two months, I was doing the Herbert or Clarke Setting Up Drills. I wasn’t doing my routine at that time. I was only doing the Herbert L. Clarke, but what it requires in the Setting Up Drills is that you play everything pianissimo. and I discovered that when you play pianissimo, the notes will not come out if the angle of the mouthpiece is not correct. If you have too much pressure on this side and not enough pressure on that side, or vice versa then the notes do not come out. They just stop. Nothing comes out of the horn. And this? Wow! That was like a revelation to me. You know? Because you know if you think about it… if you’re playing off to the side, you have to wonder “how do you know precisely how far off to the side you need to point the bell?” When you play a normal volumes or louder volumes, I think what happens is that the the air pushes the lip into the mouthpiece, so there’s that connection. There’s that seal on the mouthpiece but at the softer volumes, that’s not happening. And it really forces you to make sure that the instrument is pointing in the direction that’s going to create equal pressure on both sides. That’s all I really have to say about the mechanics of playing off to the side. There are are people that need to. There’s no way to get around that. And I’m gonna say it again… the discussion about whether you should or shouldn’t play off to the side… I think is a stupid debate! There’s enough people out there that must play off to the side that… actually, I would go as far as to say that that kind of debate… someone who thinks that everyone must put it down the center… that’s actually harmful to those students who don’t fit that mold Students who didn’t get braces… Students who have a different jaw structure or a different musculature. Different people have different physical settings in their mouth, and you just cannot justify a one-size-fits-all. That’s absolutely ridiculous! Now, for you students who have band directors that want you to play… or or trumpet teachers for that matter… they want you to play exactly dead center… I’m gonna invite you to share this video with them. So they understand exactly why some students have to play off to the side. You know, this this is an issue in my career because… let’s say I’m playing in a brass quintet… if I’m on the right side of the brass quintet (stage left) okay?… if I’m on that side of the brass quintet, I’m pointing in towards the trombone or French horn. Either that or I’m gonna shift all the way in my chair, so that I’m playing like this and reading over my shoulder. This way toward the music. If I’m playing on the right side, I’m pointing more towards the audience. That’s an issue! You know? When I’m on a regular gig, and if I have a music stand and a microphone, I absolutely MUST put my microphone on the left side of the music stand. So are there are issues that you have to take into account when you play off to the side of your of the center. Okay? These are… now… I’ve dealt with them my whole career. But if you’re a younger student, and you’re having difficulty with this issue, it’s good to know, first of all, that someone else who is a successful player is having the same issue as you are. Well, right? So yes! There’s no problem going to the sound guy and saying I need my mic to the left. I only lost my gig one time. I think I actually think I lost a gig once because my microphone wasn’t up high. and it was televised I think they didn’t want someone that didn’t fit that trumpet playing mold. Okay? I think I actually did lose that gig for that reason. but other than that there’s… you know… I haven’t had any issues. With this you just have to be…. you have to speak up about it. So that people know you have this issue. and then most leaders will work with you on it. I’ll say most band directors… Okay, I shouldn’t say band directors… You know… the school band directors… I think sometimes they get tunnel vision. They were taught a certain way and it’s got to be that way. And I have a real problem with that in most things. Now… don’t get me wrong. I have a great deal of admiration for band directors… and a great deal of respect. I actually… when the students come in and they have a conflict with the band director… I actually tell them go to your band director… do what they tell you to do! And if you ever meet any of my students, they’ll tell you that this is what I do. If you are in a band and the band director tells you to do something a certain way, I believe you should do it the way they do it Now… here’s the problem… so for example… I had a student one time that was an upstream so extremely upstream that his bell was pointing up this high. He’s a natural upstream player and his junior high band director kept telling him to point it down. But then he would put his chin like that so then the band director would get angry at him and tell him to stick his chin up. He wanted to point the horn down. He had no knowledge of the whole upstream downstream phenomenon on trumpet. and What he was forcing the student to do was actually causing him to play badly. Because the angle of his horn just wasn’t right on his lips. But that’s another example of band directors trying to make students conform to the same mold… one student to the next… If it wasn’t for me telling the student and his parents that it was natural for him to point his bell up like that… I think that student would have quit [trumpet] in junior high. And yeah [he] ended up going all the way through high school played contests and won and picking hard music by the way. So the student did a really wonderful job, but the band director was convinced that he was doing it wrong, because he didn’t fit that mold. If you have a band director that is forcing you to play in the middle… or a trumpet teacher… that’s forcing you to play in the middle, please invite them to watch this video. And if you have questions, or if your band director or your trumpet teacher has questions asked below in the comments, and we’ll carry on a discussion. I will not discuss whether you should or shouldn’t because that’s, to me, I genuinely believe that that’s a non-issue. Okay? But we will… we can discuss, if you want, how to make that work for your band how.. to make you that work for your students. Alright? So, if you like this video and this kind of information about the trumpet, learning how to play the trumpet, then click on subscribe. I’m going to be putting out more of these. And also… if you like the video, click like down below. All of that helps, alright? And you know what? If you know anybody that’s struggling with this “off to the side” thing, please share the video with them, too. I think this will help. Alright! Thank you very much. God bless you! We’ll see you on the next video. Thank you!

9 thoughts to “Off Center Mouthpiece Placement – Trumpet Tutorial”

  1. Hello Eddie, I am an older, adult (aspiring) cornet player, (note: a cornet is kind of like a small, somewhat shorter trumpet), and a bit earlier, I watched another video of yours about "free buzzing" (i.e. just buzzing the lips – without the use of a mouthpiece or a trumpet).   I'm basically just a beginning cornet player, and I'm still trying to develop a proper, effective embouchure that will work well for me. But after watching this above video on "Off-Center Mouthpiece Placement," I tried to lip buzz (i.e. to lip buzz without a mouthpiece), and I noticed that the only way that I can seem to most effectively get a sound through my lips is by blowing a bit off to the right-hand side of center (i.e. to the right-hand side of the direction that I am facing). So now I have a question for you… Do you think that it would be a good idea for me to experiment with off-center free lip buzzing (and perhaps also with off-center cornet/trumpet playing): in order to try to find out if I would be better off by playing a bit to the right-hand side of my lips – rather than by just arbitrarily playing "dead-center" through my lips: (as apparently, most band directors and/or trumpet teachers teach their students to do). Perhaps with time my making a sound through my lips may change from being a bit to the right of center to "dead-center," but I can't yet be sure that this will happen.

    Incidentally, I can really see how your above video would be of benefit to both band directors and to trumpet teachers generally, as well as to people who find that they do best when they are playing their trumpets off to one side or the other (or perhaps above or below) "dead-center" through their lips. Thanks very much for sharing about this interesting and important subject with your above video.

    — Lar Tes

  2. It seems as if more "off center" players play to the left than to the right. Do you know if there has been any research done on the topic of where trumpet players actually place their mouthpieces on their lips?

  3. I’ve been playing for almost 7 years now.. this has been an intense struggle for me, I’ve had immense progress since I started playing the trumpet up until HighSchool, I’ve had so many directors and teachers say the center is where it needs to be but have read contrary, you are the first successful player that’s had this problem. I’ve been feeling real insecure about my playing because I would try to shoot the horn straight and my notes always crack, and been a journey, thank you for this. God Bless.

  4. Playing from the side is due to the accident I had with my mouth where I got busted in the mouth while at work with a poll under high pressure snapped hitting me in the mouth and having my front tooth go completely through the center top lip, Muscles will not form in the area of damage I am trying to establish the best alternative. I am readjusting as I play to gain an attainable embracer capable of reaching the fifth "C" way above the treble clef staff lines. This is a center lip problem trying to find this has been a challenge So I may have to find the right mouthpiece also.

  5. am an off center player two fingers to the right and one on the left i have been having some problems of range when playing and am insecure bout my playing i need some help on this what can i do ??? also my lip swells faster when i play on the sides..

  6. hey Eddie, im thankful that finally i saw video that speaks of a person i am. i nearly stopped trying to learn to play trumpet because every tutor i try to take classes from tell me to play on the center and that made me to take time to learn because i have 2 years learning the instrument and i really dont see any progress compared to people i started playing the instrument with. i ended coming o youtube and learning on myself. one question ii have is with buzzing excersizes, how does people like me approach the skill of doing those successfully? and i was asking whether do you have any platform i could reach for some other tips i may need from you because i think you the only relevant player/teacher to my case

  7. hello ed i started playing the trumpet in 4th grade 38 years ago ive been back playing for 3 years now and i play to the side of my lips i also play with denture now upper and parture on bottom and it hard for me to hit higher notes now what can i do to work on getting better at this.

  8. Once I was noodling around off to the side and for 15 minutes I played as well as I ever did, my range was higher and my response was quicker ….but I could never find that same position again, not sure what happens that day.

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