Einsetzen and Ansetzen

What is Einsetzen/Ansetzen?

An article that describes, defines and explains the use of these lip positions in modern trumpet embouchure systems by Richard Colquhoun


One of the highlights of spending time with Bahb Civiletti in April this year was having the chance to watch him teaching TCE to trumpet players who had not tried it before. The thing that really stood out for me was how simple he made this process. Since then I have been thinking a lot about the simplest ways to explain the principles of TCE to those interested in learning about it. In a similar manner to how Claude Gordon describes technique in the start of his Systematic Approach I believe that you could list three independent ideas, each with a some exercises for working on them, and arrive at a pretty comprehensive understanding of the Tongue Controlled Embouchure that you can apply in daily practise to improve your trumpet playing.

These principles are as follows:

  1. Anchored tongue, through the teeth.
  2. Correct use of air (quantity and compression).
  3. Einsetzen/Ansetzen.

In a few posts that I’ve written previously (these ones: 1, 2, 3) I have explained two of these ideas and the purpose of this post is to explain the third – Einsetzen/Ansetzen.


The terms Einsetzen and Ansetzen originate in French horn technique. They are not terms that are usually associated with trumpet playing and I don’t know how, if at all, they relate to players of larger brass instruments. In his book Complete Method for French Horn, Oscar Franz describes Einsetzen as meaning “setting in” and refers to it as an embouchure type ideal for low horn players for which the player has to unfurl the bottom lip and set the mouthpiece “within the inner part of the lower lip”. In contrast Anstezen means “setting against” and refers to placing the mouthpiece on the outside of both lips – this is most people’s “normal” lip set up. In his book The Art of French Horn Playing, Philip Farkas basically dismisses the use of Einsetzen in modern playing due the demands put upon modern players and the need for a different kind of mouthpiece for playing in the Einsetzen position. He goes on to say that modern embouchures are a combination of the two older techniques, but claims that this is exclusively in French Horn players as a result of technique having evolved from a dual system to a single system. Whilst this was probably true at the time Farkas wrote his book it is no-longer the case as it is exactly this idea that forms the basis of Jerome Callet’s earliest book Trumpet Yoga (published in 1971).

It was in learning to use the Einsetzen embouchure to play notes in the double-pedal register and in moving from the unfurled position into the normal playing register that Jerome Callet discovered the ability to develop what he went on to call Super chops. Another term that has been used, which I believe better explains the result of using these lip positions, is lip-to-lip isometric. This is something that is very difficult to describe in words and before I had lessons with Bahb Civiletti I had not fully grasped the benefit of the exercises and the resulting ease of playing that comes from learning them. In fact I had taught myself to play double pedal notes about three years earlier and practised them a lot in various ways but after only one lesson and a week of practising my efficiency and perceived strength had increased measurably. I actually don’t think that it is a matter of strength at all, just simply finding the right balance in the way the lips grip. It is not too dissimilar to the balance that Jeff Smiley describes in his book The Balanced Embouchure.

Double Pedals

Pedal tones are notes that you produce on the trumpet that are lower than the harmonic series allows you to play. Playing pedal notes is not a new idea as they can be found extensively in the teachings of Louis Maggio, Claude Gordon, Pierre Thibaud, and plenty of others. These teachings, however, deal with playing notes that are close to those in the playable range of the instrument. Generally one will learn to bend a low-F# down a semitone, then learn to play that note with only the first valve – forcing the tone. Once this is mastered they carry on down to the illusive Pedal-C, one octave below the lowest note you can play with no valves depressed. Just for the record, Pedal-C does not exist as a note on the trumpet for physical reasons – i.e. the bell is too small. In my opinion, if you want to play a pedal-C then use a flugelhorn, you will master it in less than a minute and save yourself years of wasted practise. But that’s just my opinion and you’re welcome to explore anything that interests you!

The double pedal register begins an octave lower than pedal-C. Written down, it is the lower note in the featured image at the top of this post. These notes are to be played with the Einsetzen embouchure and when done properly will have a very characteristic sound. It is not the airy, unfocused sound usually associated with playing pedals, bent or fake notes, but actually a vibrant tone. Regardless of it having no real value in music performance this tone is important as an indicator that you are playing the notes properly. Playing notes in this position really helps to engage the muscles of the orbicularis oris. It will also encourage blood flow to the muscles and lips. After playing double pedals for a few minutes your lips should start to feel “fat”. This is not a bad thing; it is also not the same as swelling from working incorrectly. The intention of the exercises is to then keep this relaxed, fat, strong lip set up throughout the range of the instrument.

The Exercises

As with my other posts about TCE, this article is not meant to be a substitute for buying a book or having lessons with a trained professional. I do like to make sure, though, that my readers can at least take on board the ideas that I’m presenting. As with all aspects of trumpet practice, exercises really come to life when you create your own versions and figure out what really works for you.

As a beginner in the ideas of using Einsetzen and Ansetzen I would recommend that you first take the time to explore the Einsetzen lip position. Learn to play the double pedal notes from double-pedal-C down to double-pedal-F#. The biggest challenge is usually in finding and becoming comfortable with the pitches of these notes. It often helps to find them on a piano and try to match the pitch. This is fun! You are making fart noises into a trumpet – I have found with my pupils that the more seriously you take this, the harder it is to do. Be patient; those notes are down there somewhere.

Ansetzen/Einsetzen – The first challenge is in learning to slur (or gliss) from the normal playing register down to the double pedals. It is usually done in the form of two or three octave slides. This is the easier of the two movements and it will reinforce your ability to find the position and pitches of the double pedals.

Einsetzen/Ansetzen – The other half of the equation is learning to move from the double pedal register into the normal playing register. Slur from double-pedal-C to low-C and continue up the harmonics as far as you can. At first this is difficult and you may not be able to play your normal range in this manner. That’s the point of the exercise. Over time you will discover that you can slur from double-pedal-C to higher than you could play before with less effort. The real challenge is to remember how it feels when you are playing music!


Hopefully you’ve found my brief description of Einsetzen and Ansetzen useful. As with all aspects of the Tongue Controlled Embouchure this is a doing thing. You will not understand it unless you do it. The biggest critics are those who have never devoted any time to practising these exercises. I have found them to be invaluable to my trumpet playing, especially now that I don’t have the same hours-per-day to devote to practise like when I was at college.

As always please post comments and questions in the box below. Share this post and use it as you like provided you give credit where it is due.



One thought on “Einsetzen and Ansetzen

  1. Interesting post, thanks! I’ve just purchased and started working on the Balanced Embouchure book, which includes rolled-out double pedals in what I think are the same manner that you describe as einsetzen? Even after a short time, I can feel some changes in my lower lip musculature. Pretty sure that I read that Maynard Ferguson used an einsetzen embouchure, presumably over his full range, but somewhat less exaggerated than we’re using for the double pedals.
    Best regards,

    1. Hi James!
      Thanks for your comment. I believe that the “Roll Out” section of the Balanced Embouchure (minus Jeff’s comments obviously) is taken directly from Callet’s Trumpet Yoga. The BE book is actually one of the only books currently being published that you can get hold of those exercises, Bahb Civiletti’s TCE Manual being the other. I’ve been reluctant to write and distribute my own exercises as I don’t claim to have any new ideas on the topic but when the time is right I will do something. I find the BE method very interesting, and I really enjoy Jeff’s no-BS style of writing. He makes it all sound like common sense.
      As for Maynard Ferguson, I think you’re right. Lynn Nicholson also talks about the unfurling of the lips in the extreme high register, which he learned from playing with Maynard for years. The style of mouthpiece that Maynard is famous for using actually encourages the lips to collapse in that way, which is why most people find it almost impossible to use. I still own a Warburton MF top but don’t tend to use it.
      Best wishes,

  2. I am just beginning to try this method and find it difficult. I will persist and see how it develops; at the moment my tongue hurts when it presses against my top teeth, as they are quite sharp

    1. Hi Colin,
      Best if you fire a quick email my way. It sounds to me like you’re over-doing it if there’s anything that causes you pain.
      Best wishes.

  3. Hi Rich. Love your videos. Great stuff. Was just wondering what is the movement of the top lip ie: does it move inward or outward I hope you understand what i mean. This has me baffled for a long time.
    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Marie, Thanks for watching the videos and your comment. I’ll be sure to answer you in video form as well. When you play in the double pedal register with the einsetzen position both lips unfurl, or roll outwards. As you then move to the ansetzen position the bottom lip rolls back in to a more normal alignment and the top lip should be able to remain slightly unfurled. In Jeff Smiley’s Balanced Embouchure book there are also exercises that involve rolling both lips inwards, but this is not the same thing that happens in these exercises. The top lip only really begins to grip inwards in the extreme upper register.
      I hope this has answered your question.

      1. Gosh Rich, I wasn’t expecting such a prompt reply. Thank you so much. I understand exactly what you mean. I just found it hard to make out what the top lip was actually doing in the normal register. You’re explanation has solved the mystery. Thanks again

        1. Hi Rich. I’m back again. So many questions! Does the top lip stay as unfurled in the normal register as with the pedal notes. I’m just wondering is that how it feels throughout the upper register ie relaxed or is there a different movement. I totally understand the pedal note setting. Thanks in advance.

          1. Hi Marie, yes you’ve got the right idea! Have a look for my YouTube channel “Brass Pratice”. I just finished a series of 60 New Einsetzen Ansetzen exercises that should help to give a good overview of how it all works. The longer videos have explanations too.

          2. Thanks again Rich. I’ve checked out most of your videos. They are extremely helpful and very well done. Just wondering about the chin movement in the upper register. I know about pushing the jaw forward and up but not sure how it’s done. Is it an ooo or eee setting. Hope you know what I mean. It’s hard to tell from just looking. Thanks, Marie.

          3. Definitely not an ooo or eee setting. These things cause a stretching of the lips and closing of the jaw. When playing in this way you need to be sure to keep the jaw open, especially in the upper register. I wouldn’t recommend any conscious manipulation of the jaw. Without knowing more about exactly what approach to playing you have I wouldn’t want to give more specific advice than this: as you ascend the lips should continue to move in the same direction as they did when you slurred from einsetzen to ansetzen. When playing in the ansetzen position the movement is far less than it was ascending the two octaves from the double pedal register.

          4. It is hard to tell from looking because all of the magic happens inside the mouth! 🙂

          5. Thank you so much Rich. The smallest piece of information can make a huge difference. Now to practice 🎺👍

  4. Thank you for your videos, blog and input on trumpet herald. You have a rare ability to clearly communicate the TCE comcepts in a manner that is quite easy to understand. Best explanation of Einsetzen/Ansetzen I’ve come across. Thanks again!

  5. Because of this article, I am going to give double pedals another go.
    All the best!

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