While I have no illusions about my expertise as a brass doubler, I have spent some amount of time learning to play all of them passingly. This experience has given me a peek into some of the similarities and differences in technique between different brass instruments.
Having looked closely at a lot of embouchures of all brass instruments, I would have to say that, in general, the only difference is the size of the mouthpiece. Examples of the three basic embouchure types can be found on all the brass instruments. In my late 20s I made an embouchure change and noticed that adopting the same embouchure type improved my ability to play the other brass instruments too. The really successful brass doublers I’ve been able to look closely at all seem to use the same basic embouchure type for their different instruments.
That said, the difference in the size of the mouthpiece can change things about a player’s embouchure. The most obvious consideration would be how much room a player has on the lips to place the mouthpiece without the nose or chin getting in the way. This is really only an issue with low brass players. For example, this trombonist has a (correct for him) mouthpiece placement that is just under his nose. If he wanted to play tuba, he might have difficulty getting the ratio of upper to lower lip that he’s comfortable with because he doesn’t have enough room to place the larger mouthpiece. Continue reading Embouchure Differences Between Instruments