MKS Cutaway Mouthpiece

MKS Cutaway Mouthpiece Review, Testimony, and Practice Techniques

I recently had the pleasure of receiving a MKS Cutaway Mouthpiece from Dr. Michael Smith, Associate Professor of Trombone at Luther College in Decorah, IA. Dr. Smith’s MKS Cutaway is a result of various DIY versions and developing new uses of the cutaway in daily trombone fundamental practice (I actually bought my first grinder and vice so I could make a cutaway mouthpiece!). Dr. Smith’s experience is that the cutaway is a valuable tool to any trombonist interested in increasing efficiency and decreasing the frustration and pain that can caused by studying the trombone. I agree, much of my playing has been improved by using a cutaway mouthpiece.

Review of the Product: The MKS Cutaway Mouthpiece is packaged in protective packaging. My model, shipped from Iowa via USPS, arrived in great shape to south Louisiana in 3 days. Made of stainless steel, the cutaway is easy to handle and not as heavy as a mouthpiece. You can see more about the product and the specifications for trumpet, horn, bass trombone, euphonium, and tuba versions of the tool on the MKS Cutaway website.

Testimony for use: The MKS Cutaway Mouthpiece can assist students and professionals by improving tone as trombonists develop their buzz on the cutaway. The MKS Cutaway Mouthpiece can also be used as a diagnostic tool, showing the ranges or specific areas the players are having issues with embouchure development, aperture size, jaw placement, and air/wind stream issues. The cutaway system distinctively shows the player all of the issues and allows a fix to be developed quickly. The ways I use the MKS in my own practice and with students include: 

  • Develop embouchure so the player can use a wind based buzz.
  • Create smooth assisted and natural slurs.
  • Reduce the pressure on the top lip, so you can play longer and easier.
  • Identify issues with embouchure or slide movement manipulation, so the student can focus on practicing.
  • Identify extraneous sounds in the tone (you can see what is making them and how to stop it!)

Practice Techniques: These are just the start of technique building ideas, depending on what you need to work on as a player, other practice ideas may be more useful. A good teacher can help direct any student on how to use the cutaway for the best results.

  1. Play lip slurs on trombone and then buzz them on the MKS Cutaway Mouthpiece.
    • Play a melody from the Brad Edwards Lip Slur Melodies book, then buzz and do slide positions with the MKS in the mouthpiece receiver.
    • Play a long tone/lip slur exercise on the trombone, then buzz with the MKS in the mouthpiece receiver.
  2. Play scales/arpeggi with the cutaway.
    • Do embouchure movements affect the embouchure?
    • Minimize un-needed movements both in the embouchure and the slide.
  3.  Experiment with the aperture size/placement.
    • What aperture is best for you in various ranges?
    • How does flexibility increase/decrease with different apertures?
  4. Listen for the teeth disrupting or stopping the air/wind stream.
    • You may be able to actually see these disruptions.
    • Are they happening in a specific range?
    • lowering the jaw or separating the front teeth may help
  5. Experiment with air attacks:
    • Can you prepare the embouchure for the correct wind to make the sound you want immediately without mouthpiece pressure or using the articulation to aid?
    • Use air attack exercises with the MKS Cutaway to aid embouchure development. 
Video review of MKS Cutaway and ways of using a cutaway mouthpiece

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