How Can a Cutaway Mouthpiece Help Your Playing?


Practice Smarter, Not Harder!

Reduce your time in the practice room by improving your efficiency.  Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  If you are frustrated with your playing or want to play easier, then stop reinforcing the same habits that have been limiting your development.  

The MKS Cutaway Mouthpiece:

Plays like a regular mouthpiece and fits in your instrument with no awkward offset

  • Helps improve range, tone, and flexibility
  • Helps reduce unnecessary embouchure pressure and fatigue
  • Helps develop an easy and relaxed tone by identifying areas of stress and inefficiency within the body
  • Helps focus your fundamentals for maximum efficiency
  • Is a great diagnostic tool for players of all ages
  • Is machined from stainless steel for a lifetime of use
  • Is 100% made in the USA 

Ideas on Using The MKS CUTAWAY Mouthpiece


As Part of Your Daily Fundamentals

 Use a Cutaway during long tone exercises to help focus your sound and work to establish a relaxed buzz that is very flexible.  Focus on relaxing the jaw and keep the teeth apart (you can't move wind through your teeth).

  • Record yourself playing simple etudes or exercises with your normal mouthpiece and then accompany yourself on the playback while using a Cutaway.
  • I will often have students use their instrument with a Cutaway while I accompany them softly on my regular mouthpiece and instrument to help them stay on pitch.  
  • Perform lips slurs and chromatic scales with and without using articulation on a Cutaway to help build the high register.  
  • Learn to buzz what you play and play what you buzz!
  • Try using an MKS Cutaway in your instrument and while buzzing, use the correct positions or fingerings to reinforce muscle memory.  This method also helps identify articulation problems.  I can many times see the tip of the tongue come forward between the teeth/lips, which cuts off the air and stops the buzz.  Articulate where you naturally speak or sing.  

My Thoughts On Why So Many Brass Players Struggle

Many students that I have taught over the past 20 years seem to have the same reoccurring issues when playing.  Almost all of them do not have problems processing music internally.  They can hear music, distinguish between instruments, think critically about music, and can match pitch using their voice.  So if the problem isn't with the mental capacity to understand music, then it is probably some type of physical limitation keeping them from reaching their potential.  Many young (and some not so young) brass players have been taught to think of a mouthpiece as a funnel that you blow through to create sound.  This way of thinking often leads to excessive and unnecessary pressure on the lips while playing, which can result in debilitating limitations.  The use of a Cutaway forces players to use their embouchure to flex from note to note instead of just smashing the mouthpiece on their lips to create sound.  A Cutaway can drastically aid in reinforcing the idea of using the mouthpiece as an amplifier of sound instead of just something that you blow in.   

The Pressure Free Embouchure

Everyone is different.  We can't even sign our own name the same way twice, so it doesn't make sense for someone to try and copy someone else's embouchure.  While I will concede that  anomalies do exist in some brass players (things we can't explain - like players using extreme pressure on the embouchure or a significant offset of the mouthpiece on the lips), the overwhelming majority of players will never reach their potential when every law of common sense is violated.  I believe using a Cutaway Mouthpiece significantly aids in helping players become more efficient in playing.  The amount of mouthpiece pressure on the embouchure should be minimal, but it will never be zero.  

The Story Behind MKS Cutaway Mouthpieces . . .

My name is Dr. Michael K. Smith.  I am a Professor of Music (Low Brass) at Luther College in Decorah, IA, a position I have held since 2001.  I have more than two decades of experience teaching low brass at the collegiate level and almost three decades of experience as professional musician performing on alto trombone, tenor trombone, bass trombone, and euphonium.  I also compose and arrange music for brass and currently have more than 40 published works.  I am also the bass trombonist of the Rochester Symphony (MN), a position I have held since 2007.  

MKS Cutaway Mouthpieces were designed, developed and tested over a period of seven years with students of all ages from beginner through adult.  My goal was to create a tool that would help my students connect the process of what the lips are actually doing when playing a brass instrument with what is coming out of the bell.  Once the connection between buzzing and tone production is established, students will advance their playing very quickly. 


All MKS Cutaway Mouthpieces are machined from stainless steel and will provide a lifetime of use with no worries of plating wearing off.  All MKS products are manufactured in the US (Iowa), which allows me to have control over all stages of quality control.  I examine every cutaway mouthpiece before it is packaged.  I believe my products to be superior in design and construction and are available at a very reasonable price. 


Contact Me

MKS Cutaway Mouthpieces

Decorah, Iowa 52101, United States