Crown tooth and brass playing

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smileBy Mark Quinn:

The crown tooth represents the key to physiological development for beginning instrument players. It is vital for a beginning player’s development that from the onset the student to be able to locate that tooth and seat upon it from the first notes played on the instrument. Because this element is so vital to a student’s success, a band director must allow proper time to work with each child to get them started correctly on this important skill.

Location and connection

Location of the crown tooth is important because it is the contact into the lower jaw formation and the muscular functioning within. Connection to the crown tooth will cause the jaw to extend and lead to balance of contact between the upper and lower jaw.

Failure to connect with the crown tooth will cause the jaw to move away from the pressure and the upper lip will bear the burden of the pressure of the mouthpiece. The crown tooth also serves another purpose in addition to upper and lower jaw contact, by serving as the center point between the right and left side of the head structure.

New brass students

During the introduction of the instrument to students, band directors should discuss the concept of the crown tooth with students so that they understand they will be working to keep in contact with it and why it is so important that they do so. Students should be shown in demonstrations how the stimulations of the crown tooth affects the jaw.

During the student’s introduction to the instrument, the director should make sure the student has connected to the crown tooth in all three vents (aural, neural, and visual) so that the student can locate the tooth on their own successfully.


It is important to understand that the connection to the crown tooth is the priority to other parts of education on the instrument at this point in time. Successfully being able to locate the crown tooth and stimulate the head structure properly must come before teaching notes, note reading and rhythms. These skills will come quickly if the student is correctly connected to the head structure.

Many method books start a student’s musical education by the introduction of notational skills. This is simple to do from a publishing method because it is visual and lends itself to the layout of print very well. The process however ignores the person as the start of the musical process.

Sensations and thoughts

Students are bombarded with many different sensations and thoughts when they are first starting to play an instrument. These sensations are derived from the input of the three vents: visual, aural, and neural (sight, sound, and touch). There are many things for them to remember and to execute in coordination so that a tone may be produced. The brain can only process so much information at a time.

If the student is not connected to the head structure correctly, they will spending much of the mental effort directing muscular formation to try and operate in order to form a sound, leaving very little to be able to focus as clearly upon the notational skills that many method books attempt to teach at the start of instrumental education.

Many students choose to stop pursuing musical performance in their formative years due to their perception that they “don’t have it”. Bluntly speaking, quite often the difference between “having it” and “not having it” is simply being started off correctly from a physiological standpoint on the instrument; no musical performance can supersede the physiological formation of the player that creates it.

The Anatowind Clinic

The Anatowind Clinic can assist teacher and band directors in learning to start students off on their crown tooth. If you would like to learn more about why the study of this tooth is so vital to the success of an instrumentalist and how it is the key to continued progress, please contact the clinic at

One Response to “Crown tooth and brass playing”

  1. What great tips, thanks for the great article.

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