Mature players are reluctant to change mouthpieces late in a career because it can be a somewhat expensive proposition and one can think that since “I got along all these years on the equipment I was using” why change when you are 70 years old? Why not? Think of the golf professionals who find new equipment that extends their active careers. For younger players I encourage you to try new equipment to discover how wonderful it can feel when playing becomes somewhat “easier”.
For me, the Wedge mouthpiece makes playing more fun, less fatiguing, and improves response and range. I have always been a “mouthpiece” kind of guy. I tried to have many sizes and manufacture of mouthpieces for students to try. I remember Vacchiano too, had hundreds of mouthpieces in his basement. He was always looking for something new and perhaps better sounding to him. I think that the sound one gets on the horn is 90% the sound of the mouthpiece. We all want to be comfortable when playing and not have to think about the mechanics of what we are doing to a great degree. The Wedge mouthpiece gives me more freedom to do that. My playing range is not necessarily any greater but I do feel a great deal more confident with Wedge mouthpieces throughout my range. Air flow can be better controlled and endurance is greatly improved. I have personally seen great improvement in the range of many students and professional players as the Double Oval cup allows a slightly smaller side to side aperture without taking away cup volume and size
Why a Double Oval cup? Why not! After all, 99.9 percent of us are used to playing on a round mouthpiece. I remember once seeing a mouthpiece that was used by Herbert L. Clarke which was then owned by the famous cornet soloist James Burke when he played a solo with the West Point band. The mouthpiece was oval in shape and “undercut” so that the top half of the mouthpiece (9’oclock to 3’oclock as it were) was further towards the player than the bottom, and the mouthpiece was very wide from corner to corner. Apparently Clarke used it with the oval going horizontally across his lips. I asked how it had been made and Burke told us it had been “handmade” then filed and smoothed. The rim itself was narrow, as I recall, and thin, almost like an old traditional French horn mouthpiece.
I believe our current mouthpieces evolved as a round cup for the sake and ease of mass manufacturing and consistency. It is only possible to make a round mouthpiece on a traditional metal lathe. With the advent of the CNC (Computer Numeric Controlled) lathes and mills the possibility now exists of tailoring a mouthpiece rim and cup to an individual player’s exact and specific needs and desires. Why buy a custom made suit when 99% percent of the “off the rack” suits will suffice for the average wearer with perhaps a little alteration? - Because comfort and individual fit will be maximized.
This individualized comfort and fit is what I have found with the Wedge mouthpiece. It just feels really good on my lips. It feels more integral to my lips and less like something being imposed upon them. I find I do not need to “warm up” as long as I used to, and that my endurance, even as I practice less than I did 20 years ago, is improved because the shape of the rim spreads out the pressure of playing. The “relief” that is offered on the sloping sides of the Wedge mouthpiece is brilliant in my estimation, and is the final “fine detailing” of the customizing process.
Martin Berinbaum's Biography
Martin Berinbaum became Director of Bands, Professor of Trumpet and Head of the Brass division at the University of British Columbia in 1976 and retired in 2009. As a teacher and performer Berinbaum had the distinction and pleasure to have taught and awarded the first Masters and the first DMA degrees in trumpet performance in Canada. His many students are performing around the globe.
Martin Berinbaum, now a Canadian citizen, was born in Philadelphia but spent his first 18 years in Bakersfield, California. His early teacher in junior high school was a gifted commercial alto sax and clarinet teacher named Bill Burton. He also studied trumpet in Bakersfield with Carlton McBeth, who was a student and protégé of Louie Maggio. He graduated from the University of Southern California in 1969 having studied with the memorable James Stamp and before entering the U.S military went on a world tour as first trumpet with the famous Roger Wagner Chorale and Orchestra. He joined the outstanding U.S. army band at the West Point Military Academy in 1969. He began Masters study at the Manhattan School with Mel Broiles and then transferred to the Julliard School when it moved to its new campus at Lincoln Center in 1972 and studied with William Vachiano and Robert Nagel and coached with many other notable trumpet professionals.
In 1974 he performed two very successful “debut” concerts at Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City that launched his career as a trumpet soloist. In NYC Martin worked with many well known conductors including Johannes Somary, and he and Maestro Somary collaborated in a landmark recording with the English Chamber Orchestra of the Haydn and Hummel concertos for Vanguard Records which won high praise from critics and was selected to be one of 500 albums in the “President’s Collection” at the White House by High Fidelity Magazine. He gave the first New York performance of the Neruda Concerto with Richard Westenburg and the Musica Sacra Orchestra in 1974.
He has performed with over 75 orchestras and many bands around the world including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, National Arts Center Orchestra, Kiev Philharmonic, Vancouver Symphony, CBC Vancouver, Edmonton, Tulsa and other Canadian orchestras. He toured and recorded extensively with Richard Morris in the trumpet and organ duo known as Toccatas and Flourishes playing over 850 concerts in North America. One of Toccatas and Flourishes’ earliest concerts was at the Kennedy Center for the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter. Martin recorded the Second Brandenburg concerto for Columbia Records and Anthony Newman and the CBC Orchestra with Mario Bernardi, and has also been recorded by RCA, Klavier and Vanguard. He performed Easter Sunrise performances for the NBC Today show three times. He has also performed in England, Europe, Russia, China, New Zealand, Australia, as well as across Canada from Halifax to Victoria.