The embouchure position varies from one instrument to another and there can be as many variations as there are players since no one as the same teeth and facial muscles. You don't need a "text book" embouchure position to perform well. As long as it's not completely off, it's better not to change anything if it feels good and sounds good.
Some embouchure position might feel right at this moment but cause you problems in the future so it may be necessary to tweak it a bit. However, it is very difficult to predict what will happen so you might want to seek advices from more than one teacher before you do anything to your chops. Be aware that it takes time and patience to adapt to a new embouchure position and the results are often mitigated.
Here are a few simple guide lines on where to place the mouthpiece for all brass instruments:
For the french horn, 2/3 of the mouthpiece should be above the line formed by your closed lips and 1/3 below as shown in the illustration on the left.
Trumpet and trombone players will place it more or less in the middle
Tuba players can play in the middle for better sound but can also play 2/3-1/3 as it makes it easier to reach some notes.
Don't worry too much if your embouchure position isn't like what you see in books or on pictures online. I have seen people playing slightly on the side and still sound great. Everyone is different and it's more about how you feel than how it looks.
Unfortunately, some teachers will have their students change their embouchure position into something that works perfectly for them but isn't necessarily what is best for the student. They end up doing more damage than good. I've seen many people with a fine tone losing their sound, strength and self confidence after studying a few months with a so-called great teacher who made them change their perfectly fine embouchure. Don't let this happen to you.
If you do choose to make a change, consult two or three teachers. Be patient as it will take time for your lips to unlearn what they are used to, adapt to the new feeling and build new muscles. Monitor your progress over weeks/ months and tweak the new position to make it your own. You will get better results this way.
It always saddens me when I hear that a kid is not allowed to play his/her instrument for one reason or another. The most common reason is that the time spent playing music would be taken off studying time. Parents who deny their children the right to play music are making a mistake in my opinion.
I could go on for ever about the physical, emotional and intellectual benefits of playing music. Here are a few links about it. Check them out!
Music Benefits Last a Lifetime
The Top 10 Benefits of Playing an Instrument | Musicouch
Even without those benefits, I believe that not everything in life should be about performance, money, grades and social status. We should be allowed to do things simply because they bring us joy and make us happy. Playing music won't undermine children's performance in school. On the contrary. So why denying them that pleasure? It won't hurt your kid's grades to play 30 minutes of horn, guitar or violin per day even during exam periods. It would relief some stress and allow him/her to think of something else than maths for a little while.
We are put sometimes at a very young age in a race for money, success and social status by our anxious parents and teachers. Enormous pressure is put on kids' shoulders to perform in school and "become somebody" This is nonsense! There is a lot more to life than maths and science. At the end of the day, as the great Scottish educator and founder of Summerhill school A.S. Neill said:" someone with the potential and motivation to become a doctor will become a doctor and someone with the potential and motivation to become a street sweeper will become a street sweeper. I would rather Summerhill produces a happy street sweeper than a neurotic prime minister." Reading Neill's book changed my life and the way I approach teaching. Here's the link to Summerhill's school for more about Neill's philosophy:
A. S. Neill's Summerhill School
Children should have an indisputable right to fun! Sure there is a time for studying, learning and yes, doing maths! But there is also a time for playing outside with friends, playing music, watching TV or simply doing nothing if that's what you feel like doing.
I believe that happiness should be the real purpose of life. Money doesn't make people happy, music does!
Some people say we should never use an electronic tuner. I think tuners can be very useful if used correctly.
It's not a good idea to clip a tuner on your instrument and tune every note on sight while playing in a group. It's more important to tune to the group than to a machine so you'll have to learn to do it by ear . With a bit of practice, it's not that hard. Also be aware that notes are tuned differently depending on their function in the chord. ( major thirds are tuned lower, minor thirds higher etc.) So when you are working on brass chords, you can only use the tuner for the root of the chord. The tuner can be used if we disagree on some notes but not all the time.
When teaching a group of beginners or young students, it's easy to lose the pitch when the kids are going in all directions. A quick check on the machine will help putting the group back on track.
It's also very useful when you need to arrange your or a student's slides.
Intonation can be a very subjective thing. Depending on how our ears have been educated, we ear things differently. The way we "feel" the pitch is also different from one person to another. I played an exam once where one of the three judges said I was a bit flat, the other one said I was a bit sharp and the last one said I was just right! That happens a lot actually.
I personally prefer someone using an electronic tuner once in a while to someone who pretend he hears everything but doesn't really have a clue. There's nothing wrong in admitting you don't hear everything like a machine. As long as you can tune yourself by ear in the group, it's ok to take a couple of seconds to check a note here and there with the machine.
Don't be too precious to about your ear. At the end, it's not about who's right or who's wrong. It's about how do we play in tune together. If tuners can help us a little, than why not?
We all get frustrated sometimes when we can't play a passage or can't reach some notes. You might think that you are doing something wrong and need to change this and that. What if you just needed more time?...
If you're doing the right move, using the right fingering, blowing the right way, aren't too tired etc. you'll be able to play that passage eventually if you allow yourself a few days, weeks or months to learn it. You don't necessarily have to change your playing for every passage that doesn't work immediately!
If you expect perfection right away, you will only create stress for yourself which will slow down your progress.
We've all heard that playing music takes talent and practice but we often forget one element in the equation: time and patience. Progress will happen gradually if you're doing what you have to do on a daily basis. You'll be a bit better than yesterday and tomorrow will be a bit better than today. At the end, all these "a bit better" will add up and it'll be quite good!
The truth is that learning a musical instrument is a long process. It takes years to reach a certain level and once you've reached that level, you'll probably want to be even better! So when should you be happy with your playing?
The answer is: RIGHT NOW!
Not being perfect doesn't mean that you can"t have fun playing. Also being happy with your playing doesn't mean that you don't try to improve. We all know what we have to work on and are doing it but we also have to appreciate what we've achieved so far.
I am associate principal horn of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the author of the progressive methods. I'm happy to share my experience as a horn player and teacher with you.