I have retrognathism -- basically, my mandible is a bit "behind" so that my bite doesn't close very well, and so I am a bit toothy. When I was a kid, I wanted to play the trumpet but I was told by the music teacher that I couldn't because I was toothy and that would get in the way.

So, I was stuck with the recorder for a while, and then I went on to learn to play the keyboard and then the guitar.

Lately, I've been thinking they might be wrong and that maybe I could play the trumpet despite my mandible issues. I already have a grasp of basic music theory, so I could concentrate more on the physical part.

So, what limitations are there for a person to play the trumpet? What kind of difficulty I might expect when blowing a trumpet in my condition and is there something I could do to alleviate it (say, maybe using a different mouthpiece)?

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    Find a different teacher. You may well discover that you simply need to hold the trumpet at a slight angle -- which will raise hell in marching band but otherwise won't matter. Nov 21, 2013 at 18:15
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    Some trumpeters have their mouthpieces bent by an instrument maker in order to achieve another angle of the trumpet when playing (or to compensate for an overbite). I understand that there is a risk of breaking the mouthpiece in the process, so be prepared for extra expenses, should you choose to try this. Nov 26, 2013 at 8:44

1 Answer 1


Overbite would only inhibit brass playing potential if your jaw caused your lips to close in a really odd way. You don't need straight teeth to play a brass instrument. If you're using your teeth / jaw to play brass, then you're headed for trouble.

If your lips look like everyone else's when your mouth is closed / relaxed, then I can't anticipate you having many problems that a normal brass player wouldn't face. That said, you may have to do a few things a little differently than most people - for example, you'll probably have to modify the way you produce your articulations as they rely on the tongue forming contact with the roof of the mouth behind the teeth. Your jaw would mean that your tongue would have to travel farther than most, so practicing tonguing exercises religiously would be key.

As far as tone production, like I mentioned earlier - if your overbite is not so pronounced that it alters the way your lips resonate when closed / buzzed, then you should be good to go. Even then, I have friends that play out of the side of their mouths because that's "where they get the good buzz."

I sincerely apologize that you were stuck with recorder.

Using a different mouthpiece, especially on trumpet, would not really rectify any issues. That said, if you find that you have difficulties with trumpet, I'd recommend moving to a lower brass instrument (trombone, euphonium, tuba) as their larger mouthpieces allow for more mandible-freedom.

Hope that helps.

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    "Play" is a simple goal. Are you asking if you can be lead trumpet in The World Trumpet Orchestra of Trumpeting, or do you want to blow a few tunes? I think you would need to lack lips entirely for the latter, and "who knows" for the former. If your interest lies somewhere in between, can't hurt and might be fun.
    – horatio
    Nov 21, 2013 at 22:51

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