Big band, Legit stuff, learning a new embouchure...

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Castle Bravo, Sep 23, 2005.

  1. Castle Bravo

    Castle Bravo Piano User

    Nov 6, 2003
    Sche├člitz, Germany
    Manny -

    This is my obsession, and I'm out of my league I'm afraid.

    I have been playing the trumpet for 20 years now, and started off in a classical background, legit - music oriented.
    I have been doing the army band gig for 13 years now, and suffer the same ailments as Patrick Gleason to some extent (field playing, loud, bad conditions). Anyway, over the years I started realizing that I'm not getting any younger, and the odds of me landing a 'real' job are quite slim, and my all time favorite trumpets sounds have always come from the bell of the Boss, Roger Ingram, guys like that.

    SO, about 3 years ago I got eternally fed up with the status quo, refused to believe that monster lead players are 'freaks', but instead realized that they must have a fundamentally different approach to trumpet playing (than me). I got stubborn and started studying everything I could about embouchure, air, and mechanics. I prayed earnestly for a double C, and promised God that If he gave me a double C I would find a way to 'give it back to him'.
    Within a year I had a double c on command, could nail it out of the blue, cleanly attcked and it would rip your head off. I mean, the kind of velocity that gets people pissed and makes them spill their coffee and throw stuff at you. Big full, edgy sound.

    I guess I should have prayed for more than one note.
    I can lock in on about half the notes from high c to double c, and own them to the point of using them in selected sections on gigs. The lower I get, the more things collapse.
    This is not a drastically rolled in embouchure. Say the letter M, and BLOW, keeping the lip shape the same, and maximize air and lip compression. This seems to be floating more freely than normal, almost like the teeth play less of a role, or the aperture is lining up in a different spot north-south on the teeth. Open jaw, BTW.
    This embouchure 'kicks in' again around the middle c, with a full sound from 2nd space G on down to the low f#. From middle c up to high c this embouchure essentially does not work. It does on selective notes at rare times, but is gone again.

    This is what I have been doing to correct it, as I'm in Germany and am without a teacher.
    I play a high G or double C, to get the feel of playing with light pressure, and to get a good feel of how the lips compress up there, and also to get a feel for the airstream and how my chops hug the air, you know, how all that stuff interacts. Then I play a 2nd line g at a piano volume, long tones, full sound, same 'feel' of air and lip compression, no tension in the chops. I then do long tones up chromatically, taking my time. I 've been doing this for about 2 hours a day, and I suspect this will take years.

    I am already a decent player, and this added range is good enough to earn me an endorsement from Eclipse. I am just so frustrated when I think of how easy and fun it is to play high, and I can't play normal stuff with the same fun and efficiency. (I have been known to take the high c at the end of a tune up an octave when I'm tired because it's easier to hit)

    I have committed myself to figuring this thing out, if for no other reason that to write a book or teach this someday. I have not rejected normal practice or routines, and this new or 2nd embouchure has no negative effects on the one I use daily. I understand the benifits of strengthening my existing embouchure, practice, fine-tuning, improving sound, etc... and have not abandoned it. Pehaps I can apply the way I play up high to my existing setup.

    However, the million dollar burning question is am I on the right track to fine tuning this embouchure?

    2nd question is - do you have different warm-ups or approaches to big band lead playing compared to a legit gig, and what are your overall thoughts on both?

    Thanx in advance

    -Gary Wilder

    PS Horn is Eclipse Med Red bell, mouthpiece is GR 64MS, similar to the 10.5C. Have been using it for years, suits me well (I've been on the mpc safari before a few times :) )
  2. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

    Nov 2, 2003
    Gary are you still moving back to the states soon?
  3. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Gary, you hit the nail on the head - those conditions are in many ways bad conditions, and we do suffer the same ailments.

    The biggest difference is that my 2nd embouchure only gets me to G above high C, and it ain't easy. The most frustrating part of it is that I know if I could add another half octave to the top of my usable range, my life would be so much easier and it would open so many doors for me as a player - not in terms of pro-level opportunities, but in terms of not worrying about whether or not I'm going to hit the G in "Hot Hot Hot" or being able to take up that one line in "Play That Funky Music"...stuff like that.

    All I can say Gary is to keep after it! The biggest obstacle you face right now as an Army Bandsman in my opinion is that you really don't have the chance to fully work on this 2nd embouchure to dial it in - you HAVE to be able to play the gig cleanly, and you just can't throw caution to the wind and go for it on your original embouchure. If you could take a couple of months out, lock yourself in the woodshed and play only on the new setting, I would bet that you would be able to figure out what it takes to play the whole thing. Unfortunately, you can't and I understand your frustration. In many ways when it comes to playing trumpet, you and I are like two peas in a pod.

    Just keep after it amigo! You'll get it there, but it's going to take longer than you want is all.
  4. Billy B

    Billy B Pianissimo User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Des Moines, IA
    Get in touch with Bob Platt in Berlin. Great teacher.
  5. Castle Bravo

    Castle Bravo Piano User

    Nov 6, 2003
    Sche├člitz, Germany
    Patrick, I have been practicing hours a day just on this 2nd embouchure, but this intensely focused practice has only been going on for a couple of months.
    Right now I dont see any negative effects on my primary embouchure, and I'm hoping that these 2 embouchures are not as different as they currently appear, and they will help each other until they merge. Yeah right. Anyway, thats the plan of action and I'll figure this out or die tryin' :shock:

    Thanx for the PM Manny!

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