A partial chapter from
"The Balanced Embouchure"
Included in the full chapter are detailed
1. The real role of the lips
2. The tongue as the secondary air valve
3. Using the tongue to monitor lip position
"An embouchure is an astonishingly complex thing. Some muscles are
relaxed, others tense. Lips distort into a combination of rolled in/rolled
out as the opposing forces of wind power and lip resistance do battle.
A tiny piece of flesh vibrates at high and low frequencies and
everything in between. Writhing like a snake, the tongue contorts into
complex shapes while it simultaneously strikes with stunning precision.
All of this mind boggling coordination is focused towards an area of
about 1/2 inch in diameter - very fine control indeed! Try driving a truck
with a six inch streering wheel, and you begin to understand the
unconscious coordination and "touch" needed to play trumpet.
For people raised on truisms like "the only purpose of the lips is to
vibrate," the above description will sound new and different. Of course,
I'm only pointing out what everybody already experiences in their
struggle to control their chops, that many elements of the embouchure
seem maddeningly variable from day to day. So a wide variety of lip
movement - often the kind we don't want - is obviously possible.
If the embouchure is really that complex, how is it possible to ever
gain control of it?
The short answer is, the lips already know what to do if you establish
the correct initial conditions. In other words, when you solve a piece of
the puzzle and get the lips started more or less in the right direction,
the totality of the pieces begin to fall into place unconsciously. The
body tends to coordinate the effort for you, a process further
described in the Exercises chapter.
But before going there, it helps to first understand the basic
mechanics of an embouchure - how the lips, tongue and air work
independently and together to form the complex coordination known as
Lips are the first topic. The main point to remember is:
Lips, when forming an embouchure, are required to have a much wider
and more complex range of motion than is commonly understood."