Guess the Embouchure Type: Martin Kretzer

It’s been a while since I played “Guess the Embouchure Type.”  Aulis sent me a link to a video he spotted of the Berlin Philharmoniker performing an excerpt from Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra with a good look at trumpet player Martin Kretzer’s embouchure.  Take a close look at around 2:07 and 2:14 and see which embouchure type you think Kretzer has.  My guess after the break.

Kretzer’s mouthpiece placement is low enough on his lips that I’m fairly confident he has a “low placement type” embouchure.  If you look closely you might be able to spot his embouchure motion of pulling his mouthpiece and lips together down to ascend and pushing them up to descend, although the intervals he plays at those moment aren’t really very wide and it can be easy to miss or mistake what’s going on.  Still, I think it’s very likely that the low placement embouchure type guess is probably likely for Kretzer.

While I’m at it, I’d like to point out the other trumpet player’s off-center mouthpiece placement (I think it’s Tamás Velenczei).  Many teachers discourage an off-center placement, but you can easily find very fine brass performers playing with off-center mouthpiece placements.

In his email to me Aulis mentioned that he finds upstream classical brass musicians to be rare.  I’ve also noticed that it’s easier to find low placement players in jazz than classical, but I suspect that there are a lot more classical players with this embouchure type than most people realize (brass musicians with the physical characteristics that suits them to play with an upstream embouchure are rarer than the downstream types, regardless of style).  While jazz players tend to be more open to unusual embouchures than classical and classical musicians tend to go through an educational system that discourages students from placing the mouthpiece lower on the lips (or off-center), it’s just plain easier to find videos and photographs of brass jazz musicians where you can get a good look at their chops.  Professional classical musicians usually spend their careers performing in orchestras.  A clip from a video like this one will usually only briefly show the brass sections and rarely close enough to get a really good look at their chops.  If anyone comes across other videos of classical brass players with a clear look at their embouchures please send it along to me and I’ll play more “Guess the Embouchure Type.”

Nice find, Aulis!  Thanks for sending that.

Elgin Green

I think you’re right. It’s difficult to be sure from the camera angle, but looking at the bell, which tends to amplify movement, I would guess that he’ pulling down to ascend. He also has an overall higher horn angle than most classical players that I have seen. Low placement type. Also, notice at 1:50 he does a lip wipe. Type IV was the only type that Dr. R. recommended playing with a dry top lip because of the common problem of slippage. Just a guess, but one more hint toward the type.

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