Trumpet Mouthpiece Pressure
I teach my students that mouthpiece pressure is one aspect of their full physical balance. Pressure is only typically a problem when things get out of balance. In that sense, I look at excessive pressure as a symptom, not a problem to be fixed. In other words, I rarely work with my students on reducing trumpet mouthpiece pressure. When it becomes apparent in the lessons, we look for whatever is causing the excessive pressure and deal with THAT, not the pressure itself.
If you are not my student, but you are experiencing issues related to excessive trumpet mouthpiece pressure, then this video may help you diagnose the source of the problem. With that information, you can make adjustments to your practice schedule.
Which brings me to the first thing you need to look at. Are you practicing? You don’t have to practice a lot. I don’t even believe in practicing every day or anything like that. But if you don’t practice at all, then there’s nothing I can do to help you. The reason I say this is because the cause of your excessive trumpet mouthpiece pressure could be ANYTHING. If you don’t practice then you have no way of looking into the problem or doing anything about it.
This reminds me of the time when a trumpet player approached me on a break on a gig. He had heard I was good at helping people with their chops.So he told me his situation and I told him what he could change in his practice schedule to fix the problem. He looked at me blankly. It turned out, the guy doesn’t practice. He said that he hadn’t practiced since he left university, decades earlier.
For most of what I teach, there is nothing I can do to help that type of trumpet player. You don’t need to practice many hours a day to benefit from my teaching, but you do need to practice SOME.
One of the first things I ask my students when they are having issues with excessive mouthpiece pressure is whether they are observing the three levels of rest rule. I have another page and video dedicated to this subject, so I won’t go into the details of the three levels of rest. However, it’s important to note that increased mouthpiece pressure is one of the symptoms of improper resting.
And it’s cyclic. The longer you go without observing the three levels of rest, the more the lip is affected and the more you have to use pressure. The more pressure you use, the greater the affects become of not resting.
3) The Physical Trumpet Pyramid
The Physical Trumpet Pyramid is designed in a way that rebuilds your trumpet technique each and every day (every day that you practice – please don’t practice every day). This daily rebuilding structure is central to my approach to rudiments. It’s the structure all of my routine books are based on.
I don’t say this to try and sell you on my books. It’s just true. My trumpet students rarely have issues with excessive mouthpiece pressure. The fact that they all practice from my routine books is not just a coincidence. There are times when a student might come into the lesson and show signs of too much pressure. That’s when I ask them what they’ve been practicing. In every case, they were missing one of the three points I made here in this blog post. Either they weren’t practicing at all, but playing every day in band (booooo…. bad idea that). Or they were practicing too much and not observing the three levels of rest. Or they weren’t doing the routine.
What We Don’t Do
What we don’t do in the lessons is try to manually fix the excessive pressure. We don’t use any anti-pressure exercises. We don’t use expensive spring loaded mouthpieces. We don’t hold the trumpet in the palm our hands or put it on a table and try to play it that way. We don’t hang the trumpet on a string from the ceiling.
Instead, we look at what many trumpet players call the “trumpet player system”. We look at what’s going on in the trumpet player’s practice life because usually that’s where the problem is. If you only try to fix the pressure without actually solving the problem causing the excessive mouthpiece pressure, then you actually run the risk of shifting things even farther OUT of balance.
I encourage you to read or watch that videos on the two topics I mentioned above: