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Recently I joined my school band. My teacher is having me play trumpet, but the mouth piece is sooooo uncomfortable. I struggle a lot to reach the higher notes especially. My teacher told me that all of the instruments are like that, but from how small the trumpet mouth piece is compared to the trombone for example, they can't possible be required to regularly reach as high of notes as trumpet players (within the mouth piece). Should I just keep trying, or switch to an different brass instrument?

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This is just from my personal experience, but when I started band (about 7 years ago). I was put on the baritone/euphonium; I think I experienced a similar problem to you where reaching higher notes was almost painful. The next year I switched to the tuba and WOW the mouthpiece was so much more comfortable for me. I think it's easier on instruments with larger mouth pieces like the tuba because the usual higher tuba notes tend to be the lower ones on say the trumpet. I would suggest trying a baritone/euphonium, trombone, or even a tuba (if you don't mind having to carry it home and to concerts).

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    I think you are right that I should try one of those. I just wish they were not so large in size because carrying them on and off of my school bus might be a hassle. – SumiPiano Sep 15 '16 at 22:02
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    Well most school buses, at least in my area, have huge storage compartments underneath. You could ask the bus drivers for the key to store the instrument down there, because I doubt they would want to see you struggle trying to carry a tuba in its case all the way up and into a school bus seat. but I have had to do that on few occasions – 3rika Sep 15 '16 at 22:08
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I agree with Erika and Tim. But also, ultimately, you will need to develop the muscles and technique to reach the higher notes on whatever instrument or whatever mouthpiece you decide to use.

On the lower instruments, like tuba, you often are not required to play the higher notes for that instrument as often, so in some ways it is easier. And often there is more of a need for lower instruments. But whatever you choose, try to make sure to practice at least a little bit every day! With brass instruments you can even practice with just the mouthpiece, or even just buzzing your lips without a mouthpiece. Even this kind of practice, everyday, will eventually help you hit the higher notes.

Good luck!

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Instead of switching instruments, try swapping mouthpieces. You may find other trumpet players with different mouthpieces they'll let you try, or go along to the local music shop, and try a few out. Since we're all different, the manufacturers make other options available.

  • Hear hear! Even our teeth can play a deciding role, where changing mouthpieces can make all the difference. I had better range and endurance on euphonium than a much smaller trombone, until I got a (custom-made) trombone mouthpiece whose rim matches the euphonium mouthpiece, simply for the way its curvature parallels my upper teeth. At last high notes became slightly easier on trombone than euphonium, as would make sense. – lauir Feb 25 '17 at 23:30
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Yes, some people are better suited to an instrument with a larger mouthpiece, like trombone, baritone horn or even tuba. (And yes, the larger instruments ARE larger and therefore more of a nuisance to carry. You can't have everything easy AND easy in this world!)

Maybe the shape of your teeth really make a trumpet mouthpiece uncomfortable. Or maybe you're trying to get the higher notes by pressing hard rather than by forming a proper embouchure. You can only really sort this out with a teacher.

Anyway, it's over a year since you asked the question. What DID you do? Are you still playing?

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I think that larger mouthpieces are going to be more comfortable, on average. My son plays the trombone and doesn't get as fatigued as I do. Of course, with exceptions as you enter more demanding scenarios, the range requirements for lower brass seem to be lower.

However, most kids also start playing trumpet with a Bach 7C mouthpiece, which is very uncomfortable (I heard a unsubstantiated story that it was made uncomfortable, on purpose, so that students would be less likely to adopt a playing technique of using too much lip pressure while playing).

Is your teacher a brass player, or is he a general music teacher? If the later, you might want to consult a more experienced trumpet player for better advise.

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I have found the trombone very easy and I think it is better than the trumpet and easier to play. If the trombone seems to hard, don't worry, it is really easy.

  • Could you expand on this post? Are higher notes easier to play? Is the embouchure easier on trombone? Are there any added difficulties on trombone that don't exist on trumpet (e.g., having arms long enough to reach low notes, breath support, etc.)? – jdjazz Nov 10 '17 at 3:16
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    All brass players need excellent breath control. The larger instruments need control of a larger quantity of breath. Yes, a trombonist's arm has to reach the length of the slide. But this isn't insuperable. I went to school with a lad who was a victim of Thalidomide, the drug that was intended to cure morning sickness during pregnancy but resulted in children with malformed limbs. With a little mechanical ingenuity he became a fine trombone player. Here's another. Respect! youtube.com/watch?v=IyCAPcE7MjU – Laurence Payne Dec 16 '17 at 20:32

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