My wife calls my trumpet my mistress. Don't think so. It's way too high maintenance.
The fact is, for many of us, the struggle to find the right embouchure can seem sisyphean. There is so much bad information-especially for young players (see my post on mouthpieces); so much cant, rhetoric and conflicting theories. Right now, I have put myself in the hands of John Lynch. Previously, I have been indentured to Pivot-Master Donald Reinhardt, Mr. Superchops Jerome Callet, the carefree John Coffey and, finally, my first teacher, who told me not to tell my mother he told me, but that I had to bear down like I was taking a poop.
The fact is, there is no single right way to do it and for those of us who have chased this unholy grail through the years, it can be a comfort and an inspiration to see people do it the wrong way and yet become masters. In that spirit, here are a few examples of how right wrong can be:
Here is the great bop player Bill Hardman. Note how far off to the left side he plays:
Here's cornettist Ruby Braff who, if anything, plays even more off to the left than Hardman:
High note king Maynard Ferguson plays way over the the right of his chops.
Don't want to shortchange the swing players. Here's Ziggy Elman, playing off to the left.
Jon Faddis plays off to the left and also uses very exaggerated head movements to change register. Jon-don't ya know you're not supposed to move your head?
I always love an excuse to post this video. Here are two of the greatest-Diz and Pops. Pops played off to the right and Dizzy is the most famous "wrong-way to-play" genius in jazz history.
Trumpet players are an admixture of masochist and dreamer, as those who live with us know. In exchange for the head, neck and backaches and cyclical depression, we thirst for the daily chance to live several lifetimes in one practice session. To us, beyond every crumbling G there lurks a golden double G, crystalline, centered and in tune, or a perfect negotiation of Rhythm Changes.
Sex may be a rival to this experience; but little else.