Reinhardt’s Embouchure Types Explained (and some thoughts about the IVA type)

YouTube user “Trumpet Thoughts” (Donovan) put together a video that describes the three basic embouchure types using Donald Reinhardt’s terminology. I found it to be a pretty good basic description of the three basic embouchure types.

If you followed my link above the video you’ll see one of my summaries of these three basic embouchure types. Reinhardt did distinguish embouchure types into more detailed categories than the three basic ones, but these three types are enough to describe any functioning embouchure. The only difference between some of Reinhardt’s less common embouchure types and the three basic types is often just the position of the musician’s jaw while at rest. For a little more detail about these embouchure variations you can see my Reinhardt/Elliott Embouchure Type chart.

For example, my own embouchure technically would be categorized as a Reinhardt IVA embouchure type. In other words, I have a low mouthpiece placement so the air stream is directed up, and I pull my lips and mouthpiece together down to ascend (which Donovan discusses as a “pivot” in his video). But the only difference between my embouchure and Donovan’s is that I play with a receded jaw position and have a lowered horn angle.

Horn angle can be a very personal embouchure characteristic, even between players of the same embouchure type. If you look around my web site you’ll see some examples of Very High Placement (Reinhardt IIIA) embouchure type players that have the typical straight out horn angle, but some play better with a receded jaw position and a lowered horn angle. Most Medium High Placement (Reinhardt IIIB) embouchure type players have a receded jaw position and a lowered horn angle, but there are also many who play best with a horn angle close to straight out.

Reinhardt felt the lowered horn angle on an upstream player to be important enough to warrant its own embouchure type. On one of his instructional tapes he described a IVA.

I almost think of a Type IVA hasn’t developed and [is a] Type IV that hasn’t gotten around to being a Type IV, if you know what I mean. In other words, the horn is on its way up but never got there, so to speak.

So You Think You’re a Type IV – Donald Reinhardt instructional tape

On that particular tape (and on others) Reinhardt discusses working with a student’s horn angle by having him or her practice with it too high and too low for periods of time, then “whittling” the horn angle in over time. And you can also certainly find downstream embouchure type players who have horn angles that are different from what is typical. To my reasoning, a Low Placement embouchure type with a lowered horn angle (Reinhardt IVA) is really no different conceptually and doesn’t really require any shift in pedagogy from standard Reinhardt type IVs. Nor does it seem to be that much different from a Very High Placement (Reinhardt IIIA) who plays better with a lowered horn angle.

Horn angle is a continuum. At what point does a Type IV become a IVA? With any student, regardless of embouchure type, I want to help the student work out their own idiosyncrasies, including, but not limited, to where their horn angle works best for any particular note. With similar horn angle variations found in all the embouchure types I don’t see a need to separate the upstream embouchure type performers according to their horn angle.

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