I bookmarked this video of Swiss/Italian trumpet player Giuliano Sommerhalder playing Rafael Mendez’s virtuoso arrangement of Mexican Hat Dance a while back and have been meaning to do a “Guess the Embouchure Type” for a while now. I don’t remember how I came across this video, so if you forwarded it to me my apologies for no credit.
At any rate, Sommerhalder is a very fine player and this video has a few places where you can get a good enough look at his chops to guess his embouchure type. Take a look and see what you think. My guess after the break.
If you go to 0:40 in the video and freeze it there you’ll get a good view of Sommerhalder’s mouthpiece placement and horn angle. There is clearly more upper lip inside his mouthpiece, making it very likely that he belongs to one of the two downstream embouchure types. His horn angle is sort of between what you typically find between the “very high” and “medium high” embouchure types, but horn angle isn’t really a determining factor. However, if you watch the passage he plays starting at 0:40 in, however, you can see his embouchure motion of pulling down to ascend. There are a couple of other spots in this video where you get a similar look at his mouthpiece placement and embouchure motion. This would make Sommerhalder’s embouchure type fit in the “medium high placement” embouchure type, which is my best guess.
As an aside, take a look at Summerhalder’s right hand finger position on the valves. While it’s traditional for players to put their finger tips on the valves, Summerhalder uses the middle phalanx of his fingers and it obviously doesn’t slow him down at all on those fast passages. It seems to me that the traditional hand position for trumpet isn’t taught as rigidly as it once used to be. Probably different players will find one variation or another of finger position to work better for them, depending on things like the size of their hand and how to most comfortably position their hand on the instrument. Instrument type will also come into play as well, so horn players will have different hand positions than trumpet and so on.
What do you think? Did you guess a different embouchure type? Do you use similar finger position on your valves or go with the more traditional position? Got any strong feelings on finger position either way?