Guess the Embouchure Type – Christopher Martin

I’m going to play “guess the embouchure type” again, this time looking at a couple of videos of Christopher Martin’s trumpet playing. Martin is the principle trumpet with the New York Philharmonic and formerly played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, so you know his playing is impeccable. Take a look at his chops in these two videos and see if you can guess his embouchure type. My guess after the break.

The best look at his embouchure is at the very beginning, when he plays the Pictures at an Exhibition excerpt. Since this trumpet solo involves a lot of large intervals you should be able to get a good enough look at his chops to tell, but here’s another video that has good shots of his embouchure for much longer.

I’m putting my nickel squarely down on “Medium High Placement” embouchure type. In fact, he has pretty much every characteristic with the “classic” description of this embouchure type. His placement has more upper lip inside, which makes his embouchure one of the downstream types. It’s not very high, though, a bit higher than 50/50. He also has the classic look of most Medium High Placement embouchure types with the jaw position slightly receded and his horn angle down somewhat. You can find Medium High Placement types with a horn angle that is closer to straight out, but the horn angle down is more typical.

Once we’ve established Martin as a downstream player we need to look for his embouchure motion, which you can see in both videos. Watch carefully and you’ll see him pulling his mouthpiece and lips together down and two his left while ascending. When descending he does the reverse, pushes his mouthpiece and lips together up and towards his right. While the general direction of all brass musician’s embouchure motion is up and down, most players have some angular deviation in its track. Regardless, Martin’s general direction is definitely down to ascend and up to descend. This characteristic, along with the downstream mouthpiece placement, means that Martin’s embouchure is an excellent example of the Medium High Placement type.

Of note also is his overall embouchure form. His corners are very much locked into their position and his chin remains flat and firm. Everything looks very stable and, of course, sounds amazing.

Did you have a different guess or did you note something in particular I got wrong? Are you aware of videos of other brass musicians that we can check out to play Guess the Embouchure Type? Feel free to leave your comments below or drop me a line.

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