Beginning tips for Clarinet player

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Copland, Nov 26, 2007.

  1. Copland

    Copland New Friend

    Nov 25, 2007
    Hello everybody!

    I spare you the autobiography, but I've been playing clarinet for 6 years, and I'm currently in 10th grade. I would consider myself pretty good, I've gotten into a bunch of honors bands, including all state (New York), and I'm third chair in the highest level band in the school (which also has Juniors and Seniors).

    Anyways, I recently, on a whim, decided to purchase a trumpet because I love how they sound and wanted to get at least a basic understanding of playing brass instruments, because I'm considering being a music major in college. It is an Olds Ambassador Trumpet, and it works great (I think: all the valves and slides move well, though it has a few very small dents and the lacquer is, for all intents and purposes, gone). It was fairly inexpensive, also (under $100).

    I need some tips on playing this instrument! I have been trying to learn using some online sources (such as this site [it appears as though it's for younger people, but whatever] and ExpertVillage, which has a couple videos on playing the trumpet).

    I haven't gotten very far, though, because it is a little discouraging to really be bad at something... but I keep persevering, hoping one day I'll be halfway decent. I have plenty of time to spend playing the trumpet, so practice time isn't really a concern, it's just that I'm not sure if I'm playing correctly.

    So general tips would be appreciated! Also, a slightly more focused question about embouchure. Particularly, when making the buzzing, I heard from one source you should only buzz with the top lip. Is this true?

    Another question I have is about mouthpieces. What is the difference between different mouthpieces? I am using the one that came in the trumpet case, but is it possible that this is making it more difficult for me to learn? Should I get a different mouthpiece? What would the advantage be to different mouthpieces?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    It is not possible to buzz with only the top lip. Air forced through your lips separates them and they come back together, rebounding in effect, only to repeat the process, on and on to create the buzz. Each lip thus needs the other to make it happen. No one can tell you about the mouthpiece right now. At this point it makes little difference. Take it off the horn and practice making the buzz. As you progress try for different pitches - play Mary had a Little Lamb, or whatever. Once you have got the buzz working, hire a teacher for lesson and consult that person about the mouthpiece and horn. Don't get hung up on mouthpiece differences for now - there will lots of opportunity for that if you become serious. Just work on getting a good solid buzz.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2007
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    the differences are pretty great between the two instrument families.
    With the clarinet, the reed is the sound generator and with the trumpet it is your lips. That means that you can't buy a box of Rico Royal weight 1.5 for the times when you can't practice much. Your lips need constant care and training to behave reliably!
    Like anything else in life, your chance of success is much greater when you get a good start. That is almost impossible with self help. Find the best trumpet teacher in your area and get at least some initial advice. The rest is MUCH easier when you are not fighting your body. Let us know what general area you are in. Maybe we have a qualified TMer not far away!
    Forget about other mouthpieces for a while. If the mouthpiece says Bach or Olds (or some other name brand) on it, it will be OK for a while.
  4. Patric_Bernard

    Patric_Bernard Forte User

    Oct 25, 2007
    lol... i'd say about the only thing you can do with your top lip only are double pedals and below :D.
  5. Copland

    Copland New Friend

    Nov 25, 2007
    Alright, this is embarrassing, but I have no idea what a pedal tone is.

    I'm in Rochester, NY (Brighton more specifically).

    So, should I just be practicing with the mouthpiece only, or should I be playing with the trumpet, also. I can often get middle c and g out (and all of the notes in between), and occasionally after I'm warmed up I can get the c above that. I can do a C major scale (sometimes, although it takes a bit of effort) and When the Saints Go Marching In.

    The biggest problem I'm having so far is that sometimes when I am trying long tones, it starts off sounding awesome (to me!) and then it starts sounding all garbled and unclear. What is this about?

    Also, a question about tonguing: what exactly is happening? Are you actually making a "ta" noise with your tongue (by putting it behind the top two teeth), or something else? I'm slightly concerned about this because for a very long while I thought that on the clarinet, you make a "ta" sound, which just stops the air. Turns out that you have to physically put your tongue on the reed, which to me seems more like "tha".

    Thanks for your quick responses!
  6. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    A pedal tone is the fundamental, or root harmonic. The horn essentially gives you the octave above that, and to get the pedals you have to really relax and let your lips vibrate slower. The harmonic series of a closed tube is discussed at
    Essays on Trumpet/Brass Physics by Nick Drozdoff, a trumpeting physicist. Read his stuff to understand the fundamental (no pun intended) difference between the trumpet and your clarinet.

    Your long tones deteriorate because your embouchure muscles tire. It will get better with time. Since the reed does this for you on your clarinet it doesn't get tired as long as you can blow and maintain some jaw control on the reed.

    Ta is OK. Don't worry much about that and just use air to start the sound, by going "Ho". A teacher is really what you need to show you most of this. And by all means play on the horn and not just the mouthpiece, otherwise you will feel "deprived". The "Saints" is good. Just don't do too much, or for too long until you spend some bucks on a lesson.
  7. Toobz

    Toobz Mezzo Piano User

    Feb 5, 2007
    Patience ! You are developing a whole different set of muscles now.
    My main horn is sax, (Started on Clarinet) and I can tell you from experience that starting on brass is more difficult that a reed instrument. Gauging your improvement versus how it was on the clarinet when you started , will definitely bring you down. You are learning a whole new discipline, and improvement will come, but at a different pace.
    Now for the good news ! No more breaking or soaking reeds, just plug in the mouthpiece and go ! Fingering is easier too. Not all things are more difficult.
    As the other posters mentioned, your mouthpiece will be fine for now. The Olds Ambassador is one of the all time great student horns, so it will serve you well too. Just in case though, have a tech look it over. It may be under performing, and that won't help any horn player, beginner or pro.
    A teacher is always a good idea. If you don't know of one yet, spend some time with the more advanced trumpet players in your band. It can be very useful, but they won't replace a solid teacher.
    Bad habits and bogus tips can abound from the good intentions and inexperience of other beginners.

    Most importantly, have fun !


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