Advice from my instructor

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Hornlife98, Nov 20, 2014.

  1. Hornlife98

    Hornlife98 Pianissimo User

    Nov 16, 2014
    This is really insightful, Rowuk. I practice more, but everything else is entirely spot-on. Is there a specific thread were you really go deep into the Circle of Breath?
  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Is this directed to me, or the OP? (pretty sure it's the OP, but I just want to be sure) I've always tried to be pretty straightforward in my posting, and part of why I continue to participate here is because I still learn things that I apply to my own playing.
  3. jengstrom

    jengstrom Pianissimo User

    Oct 17, 2009
    Rochester, NY
    I have enjoyed this thread immensely. Patrick's comments have been something that I can relate to. In high school, I had a very high range, although I got it doing all the wrong things. In college, all those wrong things, combined with longer playing schedules and some lifestyle issues (cigarettes and beer), crashed my playing big time. I eventually gave up completely and didn't play for years.

    Now, I play a lot and have regained the passion I once had. I'm still trying to fix some bad habits from those earlier years, but making progress. My range too tops out around D, although I played a musical last week where I was able to play a few clean E's (albeit with too much pressure). With this range, I am playing principle in 2 community orchestras, and books 1-4 in several big bands. (I don't play lead on anything that goes real high, but for most of the charts these bands play, I'm capable.)

    Will I continue to work toward a higher range? Yes. Am I willing to compromise my sound to do it? No. I know guys whose trumpet prowess revolves around high notes. They have a Tastee Brothers mentality and sacrifice good sound in the staff, control, technique, and musicality to blast high notes every chance they get. Yes, there are times when I wish I could still do it. But, I'm getting playing opportunities they don't.

    All in all, I'll take good sound and versatility over high notes. Patrick is right. Most trumpet music occurs below high C.

    Sorry to ramble.

  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    This is what I "knew" from reading your first post. That is why I took the liberty of answering the way that I did.

    As far as amount of practice goes: Assume that we live in Washington DC and want to celebrate Christmas with family in New Jersey. We have a couple of options to get there - research a couple of things and travel a short path northbound, or believe someone else and travel south. If we stick with it long enough, we will get there regardless of our choice, but one path is MUCH MORE DIFFICULT and the longer route involves losses that we find about on that path. It can be the trip of a lifetime, but has NOTHING to do with the original goal. So it is with embouchure changes. If we jump into the deep end of the pool too early, we may not drown, but it won't be much fun struggling to get back to firm ground.

    I believe in evolution, not revolution. I only touch embouchures with a one on one live lesson venue. No internet or other proxy environments. Read on and you will realize why......

    Want proof of how relaxed this has to be (it has nothing to do with the equipment):
    Rashawn Ross With Adam Rapa Gives A Lesson On How To Play Triple C! - YouTube

    Any doubts now where I am coming from?

    There is nothing "deep" or "difficult" about the Circle of Breath. We can watch any infant when they sleep to have a perfect example.

    By popular demand: the circle of breath:

    1) The first step is a prepared body. If our chest cavity is "collapsed", we have to inflate it with force. That is pretty stupid. When we are sitting or standing up straight but relaxed (yoga is VERY good for this), all we have to do is inhale. We can get a huge amount of air without having to pressurize the lungs by force. Learning to prepare the body for playing is easy with beginners and increasingly difficult for players with more experience as they have to break habits to make new ones! It is important to have this activity monitored.

    2) Once the body is big and relaxed, we draw a big circle. The left side (moving clockwise) is inhale and the right side is exhale. Notice at the top and bottom of the circle that it is still round - no disturbances. Our transition from inhale to exhale and exhale to inhale must mirror that. We do not hold air in, it is either moving in or out. We have to practice getting BIG breaths without building up tension in the throat or upper body. We use the diaphragm to inhale, but subconciously. We don't need to think about how those muscles work, we just give them the big, relaxed body and they know what to do!
    We do not need to "push" our air out, we just exhale. Generally students have a BIG problem getting a big breath and then just exhaling. There is so much "learned" tension present that they need weeks to get this down.

    3) Once our breathing works (in my lessons that means when I am satisfied - not when the student thinks that they are done), then we replace exhale with play. We do not tongue notes, we just switch to exhale and what happens, happens. The goal here is to develop the breathing apparatus and lips so that we are so relaxed that sound comes at the peak of the circle with no kickstart by the tongue. A couple of weeks of long tones this way shows us a lot about everything that we have been doing wrong. Notice how Rashawn in the youtube just exhales a triple C? Completely free of hard work! This is how it has to work in every register. Just exhale the note.

    4) When I am happy with this stage, the student exhales into lipslurs - same principle - no tongue! Just exhale! Another couple weeks goes by to "perfect" this (it is never perfect) and we have made a considerable step forward. Our tone is no longer dependent on the tongue to reliably speak - regardless of how high or low, loud or soft. Generally with no tongue applied, we can lipslur a fifth to an octave more than we had before. The range caves when making music because we are still missing too much stuff.

    5) At this point I have very specific things to learn to add the tongue. Critical here is that we do not use the sledgehammer tonguing that we needed when we were using pressure, we have to develop infinitely small "T", "D", "K", "G", "L", "R" attacks that are only used to "articulate" the beginning of the tone that occurs at the peak of the Circle of Breath. The tonguing must occur EXACTLY at the point where we switch from in- to exhale. If we tongue too early or late, we screw up the transition. This means we are back to long tones and trained ears and eyes to insure that old habits don't screw up what we have now carefully built. Once longtones work, we can tongue the initial intro into the lipslur. If our tone without attack was clean, the articulation is only frosting on top of the cake!

    6) Following this, the student gets easy tunes like from the hymnbook and we work on proper breathing and articulation of real music.

    This Circle of Breath is as far as I am concerned the biggest deal in trumpet playing. Without being able to do this, the rest can't ever click. It is as simple as inhale/exhale. The problem is understanding what we have done to ourselves: how sloppy we sit, stand, walk. How crappy our posture is, how caved in our upper body is, how tense our neck and shoulders are because we hang our heads, how brutal our tonguing is to kickstart a screwed embouchure that uses excessive pressure to enable playing at all. In addition we have a learned unwillingness to accept very small steps of improvement because we have learned to download cheats and believe the idiots that claim to have silver bullets for problems. We do not even notice the small improvements and therefore get frustrated that we haven't experienced the "miracle". I won't even get into lifestyle and attitude.

    The human state is a product of what we repeatedly do. We need challenges and successes. We need the wiseness to prepare ourselves adequately for the challenges any time that we can. That foundation can carry us a long way if it is solid.

    I am very passionate about process and that is why people get angry with my "approach". I don't really care. They can put me on their ignore list, go somewhere else or rally enough people to drive me off. TrumpetMaster is for free and to be honest, I am here because what I do has helped quite a few. If the community changes for what I consider to be the worse, I have no financial or emotional ties.

    I saw my lifes motto in a pub in Belfast a couple of years ago: Life is too short for cheap beer. We can add a lot of other things important to our wellbeing besides beer to this motto.
  5. Michael T. Doublec

    Michael T. Doublec Pianissimo User

    Nov 20, 2014
    It is and always will be about air. The chops are only as good as the air behind them. Most all flaws in playing, except fingering problems are a result of air inadequacies. When I go above a high c with any volume, my neck expands 3 or 4 inches. Compression and flow = a good blow.
  6. Tomaso

    Tomaso Pianissimo User

    Oct 2, 2014
    New York City
    Quote: "The shallow "lead" mouthpieces present an even greater challenge because they even let less air through. That alone is proof enough that velocity is a myth."

    This is not true. Whether shallow or not, the bowl of the mouthpiece coupled with the throat, the drill, and the backbore, create a venturi, significantly increasing velocity into the lead pipe.

  7. Michael T. Doublec

    Michael T. Doublec Pianissimo User

    Nov 20, 2014
    I play on a Stomvi Lynnflex (Lynn Nicholson model). The throat /backbore is huge compared to a Schilke 6A4a. It will take as much air flow as you can give it, but the cup is shallow and tiny. It works real well in all registers too. If your goal is higher range, I would recommend you look at some of Lynn Nicholson's videos on you tube. Watch him breath, watch him blow, and watch how very little pressure he has anywhere on the horn...especially the chops.
  8. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    Yes, but it's not exactly relevant. It's the vibrating lips that do all of the work; if you could excite your lips without blowing through them, the trumpet would play exactly the same.

    If we analyze the system using superposition, we separate the resonant system from the airflow system. When you examine what Rowuk is saying above, he's actually describing two things. One, you do want a completely unimpeded air flow to get the lips into motion. This method also reduces tension, which puts additional effort (energy waste) into the embochure that doesn't need to be there. Second, recognizing that the resonant system includes the openings in your body as well as the mouthpiece and trumpet externally, getting everything in line opens up more area inside you to resonate.

    So, in short, while the airflow is important, it's only important in the respect that it's how we get the lips to vibrate. Inside the horn, the airflow doesn't matter. You could tie the tubing into a pretzel and as long as you don't restrict it anywhere important, the horn will still play just fine. But it's the resonant system that does all of the work.

  9. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    A little experiment I was once shown that you might find interesting.

    Take a big full breath.
    Buzz a low C into a mouthpiece.
    Gradually raise your tongue and allow the pitch to rise until you are playing high C with a high tongue.
    Press your tongue tip into the roof of your mouth and let (slow!) air flow around and under your tongue while maintaining high C.
    With the 'fast air' still blocked off, try descending slowly back to low C again.

    Difficult isn't it?.
  10. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    So, if I cap off the end of the bell with my Bach practice mute and plug the hole with my finger, no air comes out the bell. The other thing that happens is no sound is created after the horn is filled up with air. If I insist on trying to blow through the horn, my ears pop and if congested, mucous may flow, and if I've had Taco Bell... well, you know. Airflow is important in the brass wind instruments we play but it seems the arguments are on either extreme for or against. And yes, I've seen the "specialty" no flow mpc videos where no air flows through the horn (but it does have to go somewhere, so there's a handy little port so none of the above happens). Interesting, but they sound like, well... Taco Bell remnants. Sorry if this off topic but we're 60 posts in and the OP's question has been answered.

Share This Page