"Air pivot" system - yay or nay?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by RB-R37297, Nov 10, 2009.

  1. RB-R37297

    RB-R37297 Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    There was a masterclass given by Bobby Shew I went to a couple of months back that introduced the air pivot system to me (the actual name of it escapes me). Basically, as I'm sure many of you are already aware, the basic thought behind this system is that there are certain spots inside the mouthpiece where you aim your air according to which note you're trying to get (middle C is right down the throat, g in the staff is about a quarter of the way down from that, high G is just up from the throat, etc). Now, my teacher noticed that as I go up past middle C, I kick out my jaw a little to help with this pivot type thing and she thinks that this defeats the idea of having one setting with which to play everything in your range on so you don't have to change settings. So I put it away.

    Today though, I was having a pretty demanding day. Assembly at my high school where I played lead in 3 pieces, the Last Post and the Rouse, a rehearsal for the aforementioned assembly, Jazz band (in which I play lead), and Wind Ensemble (lead again). I started to get tired about halfway through jazz, and then things suddenly got a lot easier. I brought my horn up basically parallel to the floor, eased off on the pressure just a touch and kicked out my lower jaw. Everything suddenly became ridiculously easy in terms of endurance and after the end of Wind Ensemble I was screwing around with my horn and I was consistently nailing stuff at the top of my range. After examining how in God's name I was doing this, I concluded that I was (unwittingly) using the pivot system. My questions are as follows:

    1) What are your thoughts on the pivot system?

    2) Should I change my setting to incorporate more of this outward jaw placement? It really does seem to help my endurance.

    I plan on discussing this extensively with my teacher on Saturday but for now I'd like to hear your thoughts on the pivot system.
  2. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Everybody uses the pivot system, but many of us don't think of it like that. It's all in the head. You can't simply blow the air in the same spot in the mouthpiece for all the notes. But many of us don't think of it as redirecting the air stream, choosing to think of it in other ways, such as adjusting the embouchure to get that note, adjusting the jaw to get that note, adjusting the angle of the mouthpiece on the lips, etc. But as the embouchure gets adjusted one way or another the angle of the air exiting the lips changes.

    What's most important is that you have discovered something which helped you play better. Remember it and build on it. Certainly discuss it with your teacher at your next lesson. If it works for you, and truly increases your playing ability and not for just a short term, you should work at it and keep it in your arsenal of playing tricks.

    BUT, and it's a big "but" -- you need to work it into your playing so that it doesn't become a matter of forcing you to pause while you make that adjustment. In other words, like your band director said about using one setting. That's not right either -- if if you can play a pianissimo slurred scale from your lowest note to your highest note and incorporate that jaw motion in that scale, then you're all set. If you have to stop the scale and make the adjustment and then continue, then it's not a good thing for you to continue trying to use.

    But if Bobby Shew is doing it, it can't be all bad, can it? :-)
  3. RB-R37297

    RB-R37297 Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    Thank you so much for your post. Lots of good points there.

    I should probably clarify - my private lessons teacher saw my embouchure shift as I climbed up on a slurred two octave C chromatic and recommended that I try to keep the same setting as I ascended and descended. There's never been any sort of pause to reset my embouchure depending on how high or low i'm playing and I can climb seamlessly with the "jaw kick out", but visually i think she saw the "setting change" and that set off a red flag. I know exactly what she's talking about - the fourth chair in our concert band has to take the horn off his face and reset for anything above E.

    I honestly think this could have some real benefits for me. I don't think it's as drastic as an embouchure change, but it made the As in things like Festival Prelude seem like I was standing right on top of them. They were easy, light on the face, and in tune (and playable at the end of rehearsal). A has always historically been a problem note for me. Way sharp and usually I miss them. :-P

    One of her favorite things to do is to never spoon-feed me answers in terms of what I should do. She subscribes to the theory that everyone is their own best teacher, and I really do agree with that. I think unless she tells me that there's a really good reason why I shouldn't be doing this I'll keep doing it. If all else fails, I really like the way this jaw-out pivot feels so I'll keep that roughly where it is and then compensate in the lower register.
  4. Ric232

    Ric232 Pianissimo User

    Apr 30, 2009
    Coastal GA
    I've noticed something similar to what you're describing. After my chops get tired, I can kicked my lower jaw out a little and everything gets better. HOWEVER, if I start playing that way from the start, I don't get the same benefit. It just seems that the change (after getting tired) is beneficial in my case. I'm curious to know if your experience is similar.
  5. RB-R37297

    RB-R37297 Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    I'm afraid I can't really give you any info on that front but I'll try it out either tomorrow or the next day and report back. I'm curious about this now too.
  6. Jurandr

    Jurandr Pianissimo User

    Feb 23, 2008
    I've been using the pivot system as described on this webpage for about a year and a half now and it has substantially improved my playing. High-range notes stopped sounding like a terrible bathroom incident and this year I really nailed my scales during all-district auditions, since I knew how to adjust to the different scales. The hardest thing to learn is adjusting while playing, but a few weeks of long tones won't do you harm at all. Make sure it is absolutely seamless.

Share This Page