Guess the Embouchure Type – Harry James

Greg sent me the following message.

Another interesting guess the embouchure type for you – very clear shot at .55 of this very famous player. Almost looks like a smile embouchure but I’d guess not due to his successful longevity.


Check out the YouTube video that Greg sent me and take your guess about Harry James’s embouchure type. My guess after the page break.

I don’t really see a smile embouchure happening with James. To me it looks more like his mouth corners’s positions are in about the same place for both playing and when he’s at rest. I think his mouth/face shape just sort of looks like his corners are just up higher in general than with most players. A smile embouchure will have the corners pulling back even farther to ascend, which I don’t see with James.

As far as his embouchure type, I’m pretty confident that he was a “Very High Placement” type. His mouthpiece placement has more upper lip inside, which makes his embouchure fit one of the two downstream embouchure types. The placement is definitely on the higher side, which is one clue. Another clue is his horn angle, which is close to straight out. Very High Placement type players almost always align their teeth and have a horn angle that is about parallel with the floor. The real distinguishing factor for this downstream embouchure type is the direction of James’s embouchure motion. Watch closely and you will be able to see him push his mouthpiece and lips up to ascend and pull down to descend. If he did the reverse, he would belong to the Medium High Placement type.

What was your guess? Have you seen any videos with good close-up shots of a brass musician playing? Send a link to me and we’ll play Guess the Embouchure Type.

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