Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

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ACBEric
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Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by ACBEric »

I used to play Euphonium (like long enough ago that I would say I know how to play it but I am not a euphonium player) and I want to get better at it again. I am experiencing a few issues where I feel like using my trombone approach is not producing the centered sound I would like to get on the euphonium.

I would not say I am the world's finest trombone player, and maybe that is the issue to begin with. I feel like my sound is going the wrong direction on the euphonium and I am struggling with intonation (an issue on the trombone for me too but with the slide I can just adjust easier).

Any advice?

Obviously long tones, lip slurs, etc. I am seeking advice on approach or what others have gone through.

Thank you.
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Burgerbob
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by Burgerbob »

Funny you post this now, I'm warming up on euphonium as we speak!

I find that they are the same basic approach- my face is not radically different than it is on trombone. If there are differences, I try to keep them subconscious as I strive for a euphonium sound concept. Things like letting the sound be a bit wider, the articulation a little less pointed.

Intonation is a whole different world- on trombone you can play everything right down the middle and move the slide. I tend to do the same thing on euphonium and use alternate fingerings for the bad notes, only lipping things where I need to. If I played more euphonium I would just lip everything.
Aidan Ritchie, LA area player and teacher
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hyperbolica
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by hyperbolica »

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Last edited by hyperbolica on Sat Mar 18, 2023 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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harrisonreed
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by harrisonreed »

The most obvious difference with the embouchure would be the fact that, unless you have a really skinny neck, any given trombone is going to impose a certain angle or range of angles that the mouthpiece can be placed on your chops. Over decades of playing, this might actually physically alter your face. I've noticed a lot of trombonists have uneven front teeth, with the right tooth pushed further back than the left. Nobody is going out for 7th position and having their trombone shift left.

In any case, the euphonium doesn't impose a restriction like this on mouthpiece placement. So going from trombone to euph, no problem -- it's easy to place the mouthpiece where you want it. If you only played euph and we're used to a mouthpiece placement that is difficult to get on trombone, going from euph to bone is much more of a chore.
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by MrHCinDE »

Even with alternate fingerings I find some amount of lipping is unavoidable on euph. Actually I came from euph 1st to trombone later so spent a few years lipping notes on trombone before I realised this was harming my tone and endurance and finally used the slide properly for fine adjustments.

I also think I play with a slightly different oral cavity and possibly also the lip aperture is slightly narrower for me on bone than euph, really only a subtle difference though and mainly down to muscle memory rather than a conscious effort.

I very rarely use lip vibrato on trombone, on euph much more. I tend to play with the vibrato going more flat than sharp so sometimes have to aim the start of the note a bit higher if I’m planning to use a lot of vibrato.

Generally I have to concentrate more on keeping the intensity on euph, I like the mention from hyperbolica about the recliner, even if I don’t recline myself if I’m not careful it can sound like I’m just chilling out on a sun lounger, sometimes appropriate but not usually!

I agree with the comment about ergonomics also, that does make a difference but at least is not as catastrophic as an oval horn.
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by imsevimse »

Burgerbob wrote: Mon Mar 13, 2023 11:37 am Funny you post this now, I'm warming up on euphonium as we speak!

I find that they are the same basic approach- my face is not radically different than it is on trombone. If there are differences, I try to keep them subconscious as I strive for a euphonium sound concept. Things like letting the sound be a bit wider, the articulation a little less pointed.

Intonation is a whole different world- on trombone you can play everything right down the middle and move the slide. I tend to do the same thing on euphonium and use alternate fingerings for the bad notes, only lipping things where I need to. If I played more euphonium I would just lip everything.
I agre on the intonation as the big difference on what effects the emboushure. On trombone those micro changes of adjustments is done with the slide but on euph it is done with the lips. This effects the approach a lot and after a lot of euphonium and no trombone my trombone sound can be different. The solution is to practice all more, I guess.

/Tom
Last edited by imsevimse on Tue Mar 14, 2023 11:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by timothy42b »

harrisonreed wrote: Mon Mar 13, 2023 4:24 pm
In any case, the euphonium doesn't impose a restriction like this on mouthpiece placement. So going from trombone to euph, no problem -- it's easy to place the mouthpiece where you want it. If you only played euph and we're used to a mouthpiece placement that is difficult to get on trombone, going from euph to bone is much more of a chore.
Yes but............

It's easier to hold the head steady and move the trombone angle to accomodate the normal changes with range.

The euph tends to be a bit more fixed in your lap; a lot of people use a pad or support of some kind. So it seems to me euph players get more used to keeping the horn still and moving the head, like horn players do.

(I haven't watched carefully enough, but maybe jazz players who use a mike also learn to keep the trombone still and adjust with their head.)

For the same reason it can be hard to get a comfortable angle for the valve wrist and hand that doesn't give you a stress disorder.
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by NorthernEuph »

If I were able to watch you play I might say something different, but here goes:

It's interesting to note that your post indicated that one of your biggest concerns is that your "sound is not going in the right direction". Other people who have posted here have mentioned physical aspects of playing. But, first and foremost, are you using a mouthpiece that was designed for the euphonium? The correct mouthpiece will lead you to the proper sound and help the instrument "settle in" regarding intonation. Once you have accomplished this and you understand the tendencies of certain notes for you instrument you can make a decision regarding alternate fingerings or lipping the notes in place.

I am primarily a euphonium player, but this spring I have performed or will be performing on bass, small tenor, large tenor and alto. Having the correct equipment is essential to getting a characteristic sound, but I have found that changing the air (possibly slower, faster, narrower column, broader column) is the key to moving back and forth between the instruments - sometimes during the same concert and on rare occasions during the same piece. Changing the air also suggests making corresponding changes in tongue position, oral cavity, aperture, and so on. Finally, do you have a very clear concept of how you want to sound on the euphonium? Who are your models?

One really must approach the euphonium and the trombone differently, but if you attend to the other matters, your embouchure will do what it's supposed to. Especially for experienced brass players, it's not always advisable to deal with some aspects of playing directly. Certain parts of the body are beyond conscious control, but if there are no problems with your playing fundamentals you can allow your inner ear to guide you, and your subconscious can "fill in the blanks".

A few years ago I returned to Chicago where I went to grad school for a "touch up" lesson with my former teacher. Most of the lesson was spent on with my musical imagination and my ability to imagine now I wanted to sound. The better I was able to imagine how I wanted to sound, the better I sounded - and this was reflected in readings on decibel metres and software that showed the relative strength of different partials in my overall sound. There was quantifiable evidence of the improvement and it all started with my musical imagination.
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by Wilktone »

NorthernEuph wrote: Tue Mar 14, 2023 6:09 pm ...but if you attend to the other matters, your embouchure will do what it's supposed to. Especially for experienced brass players, it's not always advisable to deal with some aspects of playing directly. Certain parts of the body are beyond conscious control, but if there are no problems with your playing fundamentals you can allow your inner ear to guide you, and your subconscious can "fill in the blanks".
I whole heartedly agree with the rest of your post, but I liken the above approach to be like throwing spaghetti against the wall. Sure, a lot's going to stick, but you've got a mess to clean up afterwards.
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NorthernEuph
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by NorthernEuph »

I would only make a recommendation like that to an advanced student who may have hit a mental wall in their playing and only on the assumption that there is not other aspects of his or her playing that needs correction. "If there are no problems with your playing fundamentals.." is the caveat.
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Doug Elliott
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by Doug Elliott »

"are you using a mouthpiece that was designed for the euphonium? The correct mouthpiece will lead you to the proper sound ..."

Let's see... What mouthpieces were "designed for euphonium?"

Bach 6-1/2AL,
Schilke 51D and its variants by other brands,
Wick Steven Mead mouthpieces,
and several others since those.
And yet the Wick 4AL may be the very most popular euphonium mouthpiece, but it was very specifically designed by Denis Wick for himself on trombone.

There's really no similarity between any of them... or the sound they produce. Sound preferences are more regional than anything.
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spencercarran
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by spencercarran »

Doug Elliott wrote: Tue Mar 14, 2023 8:56 pmLet's see... What mouthpieces were "designed for euphonium?"

Bach 6-1/2AL,
Was it? My history is probably mistaken, but I thought that the 6.5AL was descended from the Clarke model trombone mouthpiece?
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ACBEric
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by ACBEric »

Thank you for all the wonderful replies. This has been some good food for thought.

I am using a mouthpiece designed for Euphonium. I agree, slapping a trombone mouthpiece on a Euphonium is not going to yield the best results.

In regards to "sound" the middle and upper register feel, and sound, fine. Which is not surprising because that is where I spend most of my time on the trombone.

I have no shame, or pride(?) to protect, in admitting my lower register is not as strong as it could be and needs improvement. What I am really noticing is that the shift in sound - by this I mean intonation AND the quality of the tone - feel like they slide around in the 2nd partial and below. Trigger notes and Pedal tones feel very different on the Euphonium than on the trombone. But I am pretty sure some of the issue there is fundamental and not specific to the Euphonium as I do not feel overly confident in that range on the trombone either.

Some of the issue is very much related to the comment about playing straight down the middle on the trombone and adjusting with the slide vs having to lip notes on the Euphonium (6th Partial has been an adventure).

I am also pretty sure the Euphonium playing has highlighted some deficiencies in my approach to producing crisp articulation (whether I am better at legato or I have just learned how to compensate for poor technique better is likely a case of little bit of both).
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by Wilktone »

NorthernEuph wrote: Tue Mar 14, 2023 6:52 pm I would only make a recommendation like that to an advanced student who may have hit a mental wall in their playing and only on the assumption that there is not other aspects of his or her playing that needs correction. "If there are no problems with your playing fundamentals.." is the caveat.
Well, sure. If there are no problems why fix them?

That said, even experienced players can have issues to work on. "Mental" blocks are often related to unconscious physical blocks. Habits that are developed unconsciously are prone to developing inconsistencies and when the awareness of good playing technique isn't practiced regularly it becomes even harder to correct.

In the context of this discussion, what Harrison and Tim mentioned about the difference in the way euphonium and trombone are held to the lips was the first thing I considered and might be a good place to start.

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Doug Elliott
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by Doug Elliott »

spencercarran wrote: Wed Mar 15, 2023 8:23 am
Doug Elliott wrote: Tue Mar 14, 2023 8:56 pmLet's see... What mouthpieces were "designed for euphonium?"

Bach 6-1/2AL,
Was it? My history is probably mistaken, but I thought that the 6.5AL was descended from the Clarke model trombone mouthpiece?
That's true, but at one time it was widely promoted and used for euphonium, or "baritone."
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by BaronVonBone »

spencercarran wrote: Wed Mar 15, 2023 8:23 am
Doug Elliott wrote: Tue Mar 14, 2023 8:56 pmLet's see... What mouthpieces were "designed for euphonium?

Bach 6-1/2AL,
Was it? My history is probably mistaken, but I thought that the 6.5AL was descended from the Clarke model trombone mouthpiece?

Can't both of those things be true?

Side question ... are there any (or many) mouthpieces marketed specifically as euphonium MPCs, or are they always/generally marketed as trombone MPCs?
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by hyperbolica »

When I started on euph, I used bass bone mouthpieces, which was a mistake. I moved to the Wick SM pieces, and eventually DE Euph. My problem with euph is that I don't think I have a good idea of what it should sound like, and I'm not willing to change my embouchure because euph is secondary for me, and bone is my main ax. Plus, I switch between tenor and bass bone, and my tenor chops appear to be sensitive to changes. Maintaining bass bone chops for me really reacks havoc on things. For euph, I try to set myself up for success, but in the end, I get what I get. If it's second rate, that's good enough for me because I'm not relying on euphonium for gigs or income. The main thing is that I can't have it messing with my tenor chops.

I have something like a standard British euph and then a 24i, which is more like an American Baritone. I like (and understand) the baritone sound better. Playing both of those doesn't help with my confusion about the British euph sound, but again, I'm willing to live with some deficiency in that respect. In the past I've had some problems develop with my tenor bone chops, which I really need to avoid.
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by bitbckt »

are there any (or many) mouthpieces marketed specifically as euphonium MPCs,
The artist mouthpieces are marketed as such. Denis Wick SM, and Warburton Demondrae as examples.
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by spencercarran »

BaronVonBone wrote: Wed Mar 15, 2023 11:18 am
Side question ... are there any (or many) mouthpieces marketed specifically as euphonium MPCs, or are they always/generally marketed as trombone MPCs?
All the Mead mouthpieces, Griego (formerly DEG) BB1, Alliance DC series, Doug Elliott's EUPH series, Schilke 51D, many others.

It's of course possible (and for many people completely reasonable) to stick a trombone mouthpiece in a euphonium and make the best of it, but there's also plenty of options for mouthpieces specifically designed/intended/marketed for use on euphonium.
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by VJOFan »

I read the thread to make sure this wasn’t covered: euphoniums and trombones are quite different tubes.

With the recent passing of flugelhorn horn great Guido Basso, his thought that “one attacks the trumpet and makes love to a flugelhorn” was mentioned in a few articles. I don’t see that as a bad analogy for the difference between trombone and euph.

To successfully switch from one instrument to another one has to adapt to how that instrument wants to be blown.

I mean that’s even the case going from large to small bore trombones, so going from a predominantly cylindrical to predominantly conical bore would take some conscious adaptation.
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Doug Elliott
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by Doug Elliott »

Excellent post, that's absolutely right.
That's mostly about air usage and pressure, not so much the embouchure itself. You can get away with being a little sloppier with the embouchure on euphonium, but that's not to say you should.
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by 2bobone »

When I was a young student playing euphonium and having zero experience with trombone, I made an interesting discovery. I played a Conn 20-I bell-front euphonium [baritone horn] which, as many are aware, tends to "lean" towards the left side of the player. After a couple of years I graduated to a Besson euphonium which, as many are aware, tends to "lean" towards the right side of the player. For the first week or so the Besson was marvelous but gradually became much more difficult to control. My teacher was perplexed at how suddenly I'd lost my bearings.
I gradually discovered that I had been gently resting the Conn bell-front mouthpiece on the left side of my embouchure and now that "support" was now missing from my setup while playing the Besson. I gently countered the tendency to rest the Besson on the right side of my embouchure and the result was amazing ! Problem solved ! To this very day I find that my best result on trombone is to place the mouthpiece slightly to the left since playing euphonium during my formative years have arranged my teeth to favor that early experience with the Conn 20-I. It somewhat reminds me of the ancient court practice of the "Gardiner" where young children were cruelly forced to exist in a clay "vest" so that their physical shape was dictated by the jar in which their formative years were spent. They were used as curiosities in court. On a much smaller scale you can easily see how the embouchure could be influenced in a similar, and far less cruel way.
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Doug Elliott
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by Doug Elliott »

Teeth positions are influenced by the face muscles that act on them 24 hours a day, not by a few hours of playing euphonium or trombone or anything else.

You were just lucky that the horn you played facilitated your left placement that your embouchure needed. Maybe if you'd started on a Besson you wouldn't have had as much success.
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ACBEric
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Re: Seeking advice/thoughts on embouchure differences between bone & euph

Post by ACBEric »

Thank you to so many for your responses! The comments about air were quite useful. I suppose that feels like a "well...duh" answer now but I was approaching the euphonium with very much the same air. I have been consciously approaching the euphonium as a euphonium and not as a trombone (again, seems like a "well...duh" thing) and that has been helpful. Sometimes you just need someone to point out the obvious to you because it is easy to keep looking past it....or some sort of ridiculous fortune cookie summarization of all of this.
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