Simplifying the Trumpet Embouchure- Part 1 Embouchure Muscle Involved When Playing Trumpet

In order to establish which facial muscles are used during trumpet playing, we need to understand that working muscles generate heat; and temperature studies done by two authorities in this area from Vienna, Austria- Dr.Matthias Bertsch (University for Music and Performing Art) and Dr. Thomas Maca (Department of Medical Angiology (AKH), will aid in our understanding of this topic.

I will be quoting from their paper “Visualization of Trumpet Players’ Warm Up by Infrared Thermography” throughout this post.

Notice in this thermograph the increase in temperature as illustrated by the color red.


This increase in temperature represents an increase in muscle activity in a very compact area of the player’s face. In their abstract on this project they state “During the warm up of trumpet players, face muscle contraction with increased blood flow result in a higher temperature of the overlying skin. This effect can be visualized and quantified by infrared-thermography”.

During their study, seven isolated areas where selected for temperature measurements-

1. Corner of the mouth (anguli oris inferior)

2. Inner corner of the eye (anguli oculi)

3. Forehead (frontal)

4. Side of nose (perinasal)

5. Inner cheek (buccal rostral)

6. Center of cheek (buccal central)

7. Outer cheek (buccal auriculaer)

Notice the amount of warming from the first photo which was before the musician played and the increased temperature after playing in the second photo.

2016-06-02 17.31.13

“By Infrared Thermography the main changes can be seen in the embouchure region with increased temperatures during brass playing. The blood supply seems to be redistributed from lateral to center parts. Therefore, the main facial muscles activity seems to be restricted to only a few muscle groups in this area (M.orbicularis oris, M. depressor anguli oris, M. levator anguli)”.

I also found the following interesting as they continued-

“For almost all players the “Trumpeter’s muscle” (M.buccinator) proved to be of minor importance since the area of the cheeks are not warming up…..The increase in temperature at the corner of the mouth was found for all players”.

Later in their paper, they stated-

“Professional trumpet players show a more compact, economic and homogenous embouchure”.

In summary, they concluded-

“The main facial muscle activity during warm up seems to be restricted to only a few muscle groups (M.orbicularis oris, M. depressor anguli oris) while the “Trumpeter’s muscle” (M.buccinator) proved to be of minor importance”.

Be sure to read their complete study for they were able to compare embouchures of professional, amateur and beginning trumpet players and came to some generalizations of the effectiveness of efficient embouchure usage among the three levels of players.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.