A partial chapter from
"The Balanced Embouchure"
Included in the full chapter are detailed discussions regarding:

1. The
real role of the lips
2. The tongue as the secondary air valve
3. Using the tongue to monitor lip position
4. Breathing
"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 trumpet playing.

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."