Commonality of Sunday high note epiphanies?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Local 357, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    I've noticed it enough times that its beginning to seem more than just coincidence...

    1. The first was a friend of mine who studied with Roy Stevens himself back in the early 1970's.

    (here: Embouchure self analysis ; and, The Stevens-Costello triple C embouchure technique: Complete: Roy Stevens: Books)

    He had paid considerable money to both take lessons directly from Roy, and buy his book. Then spent the first sixth months or so diligently and methodically practicing. Daily working the book a page at a time exactly as instructed but making little tangible progress. Undaunted though somewhat depressed he continued but took a few days off around the fifth month. Then he picked up his ax on a Sunday afternoon. PRESTO! He was sliding up to and above DHC with good volume tone and decent accuracy. He told me:

    "I just loosened up the middle of my chops and blew out these freaking EASY high notes".

    2. The next was a personal revelation some ten years back or so. Also on a Sunday and similar to my friend's epiphany. Unlike my friend however I decided to stay with my original chop setting after the discovery for most my work. Keeping the Stevens type setting mostly for demonstration purposes and personal amusement. Although not using the thing much today I still consider it a very rewarding experience.

    3. Then just this past Sunday yesterday a young friend of mine called up and explained that through his study of the Stevens book (and some alterations of it that I had prescribed for him) he had "opened the dog gone thing up" and started blowing EASY three and a half octave arpeggios at decent volume and tone. He started with the Stevens thing around the first of this year.

    In each case none of them had really made it happen overnight although the change sure seemed that way when it finally arrived. What each had done was set the groundwork in the subsequent months. And while they couldn't be completely certain that the thing would work (both had felt fairly depressed at times while doing it) they still stuck with it.

    Analysis: The embouchure change was so radical for each player that it took some 5 to 6 months just for each of them to get grounded in it. To find the spot/connection of the chops "just right" that is. Once the connection became secure? They progressed to amazing and easy register fairly fast. The difficult part was in convincing themselves that they were going to pull it off. Not a lot of positive feedback in the beginning. All were playing unmusical tones for several months at first. Plus the facial and embouchure muscles they were using were undeveloped, and weak. A discouraging feeling especially since all were very capable trumpet players previously albeit with limited range. In my own case I had a solid High F (prior to the experiment) but not a lot more. My old friend has similar range and the kid couldn't play above high D at all.

    Number 1 was probably a "ready made customer" for Stevens-Costello. Me? I had to fiddle with the setting a lot. And the kid needed a fair amount of coaching just to find the right coordinates. As the book prescribes he not a good fit for Stevens at all. So I had him work on rolling out his lower lip some.

    For the kid and myself what seemed to speed the process up was consistent daily practice of long tones. REALLY L-O-N-G tones that is. Like the "Cat Anderson 20 Minute G". Playing the second line treble clef G for twenty minutes resting and breathing where necessary. In fact for the kid I suggested he lower the G to a Low C and play for five minutes and no more at first. Then gradually extend the tone to ten minutes, then twenty. Later ascend to Low E and then finally to the second line G.

    I chose the Anderson 20 minute G (for myself and the kid) not just because Cat recommended it but because the Stevens System is pretty much the way that monster blew. The "right saddle to fit the horse" or something like that. The idea being that in an embouchure that has the latent capacity to blow Triple C's the goal isn't to develop strength so much as coordination. I'm not exactly sure but that seems to be the concept in Jerome Callet's old book "Trumpet Yoga". Correct me if I'm wrong.

    "Weakness is strength" Arnold Jacobs once said. He conversely, not being an advocate of embouchure change but the wisdom still just as useful.

    So just like the Lotus position in Yoga it seems really strange to hold your chops in such a seemingly weak and difficult position to sustain at first. However after ample time, patience and perseverance the results could be astounding. The main problem being staying optimistic and finding the exacting set of coordinates in the chop positioning and usage required to make the darn thing work in the first place. You won't really know if its gonna work until it does. That can be a drag.

    And maybe Sunday does play a part in it too. Just sayin that is...
  2. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Interesting... after hearing a trumpet master lecture by Allen Vazzutti at the Dayton Trumpet hang, he would advise against this long tone concept. He feels hanging on long tones is not good dynamics for the lip. It forces the lip to vibrate in a fixed pattern that risks leading to fatigue. He in fact stated... "I find long tones can be fatiguing"

    He recommends instead to use the long tone concept but very between notes in slow slur patterns, or phrasing changes, anything that will keep a vibration at a set frequency and tension.

    So long tone away, but do it wisely.
  3. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    Did he elaborate on this? It certainly seems unconventional from an endurance standpoint. :?::?::?:
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2012
  4. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
    This is not the Cat Anderson method. Cat's thing was the sub-tone longtone G... definitely not the same thing as telling a kid to just play a G for 20 minutes. And, definitely not the low C.

    It `taint whatchya do, it's how thatchya do it.
  5. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011

    If so Vizzutti's idea would concur with Herbert L. Clarke. Who considered long tones repetitive and less effective study as compared to scales, running notes arpeggios as outlined in his famous" Technical Studies For Cornet".

    However all evidence seems to conclude that both Vizzutti and the long dead Clarke had extremely easy upper registers. That other than playing some technical scales regularly there wasn't a heck of a lot of learning or maintenance necessary.

    The long tones described in the "20 minute G" seem best (in my opinion) to take a fledgling embouchure setting way into the stratosphere. Assuming each particular setting has the latent capacity to do this. Some might argue that all chop settings do (have the potential to play Double to Triple C's) but this isn't true.

    Again Vizzutti seems to play in the original position he found his chops suited to play in. Ie he just blows and everything works well. I'm suggesting that when someone alters a chop setting significantly (like to develop way high extreme register) that these long tones can develop and stabilize this less natural occurrence until it FEELS more natural. That is when the real progress begins. In the case of the three illustrations at top of page it took each about 5 - 6 months.
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I think that we can all be right - or wrong.

    It isn't the embouchure alone. It is the time that it takes to get a specific muscle set/geometry coordinated with the breathing, body use, tongue position as well as things like what our brain makes out of the mechanics. The 6 months sounds realistic to unlearn certain habits and replace them with others.

    I was in music school with Mr. Vizzutti and can attest to his "natural talent" (also up high) and above all intense devotion to the trumpet. I will maintain that many players will NEVER be able to put the pieces together simply because there are too many things that have to fit. Most can get close enough however - and that leads to a lot more fun! Once we understand that our air "power" and chop "tension" are complementary, we are well on our way to making special things happen. When one of those two factors has the upper hand, there is no chance. To get the air under control, we have body issues to deal with. To get the chops under control we also have body issues to deal with. It is NEVER the embouchure alone. It is the integration of everything including LUCK.
  7. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio

    He really didn't and simply started demonstrating his warm up routine which consists of scale patterns of interestering harmonics and octives. No more elaboration necessary as reading Rowuk's and Local's statements above kind of puts the real truth to the perspective.
  8. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    A year ago if you asked me to be brutally truthful I would have reluctantly said that the ability to play comparatively easily above a High G is limited to only a fairly small portion of trumpet players. Then just a few months or so ago i put together a definition of the characteristics that must occur an embouchure system that would allow someone to say play as efficiently as Mark Zauss does

    ( Mark playing w/future corps here: Future Corps - Everybody Loves The Blues (August 1998) - YouTube )

    Since then though I now feel that the limitation of upper register range can be pretty much completely removed so long as the trumpet player has access to the proper concepts AND if (more importantly) has the resolve, discipline and perseverance to pull the trick off.

    There are cats out there whom if they did have enough resolve could pull it off but lack the determination. I think that my own son was one of those type. He just didn't want to put in the time necessary.

    The huge physical advantage the gifted cats (like Vizzutti and Zauss) have is largely due to them having especially supple qualities in their upper and lower lips which fit inside the mouthpiece while still fairly close to the position their chops rest at naturally. Its a relatively simple concept actually as are the solutions to most puzzling questions once the particular parameters are defined. With this natural gift it becomes far less a headache to find the resolve to put in the hours necessary to play their magic. Winning results in more winning in other words.

    That said the major question for the non gifted cat is this:

    How could he position his chops in such a way as to allow the most supple vibrating and controlling flesh to rest in the mouthpiece?

    There are other questions too but the one listed the most basic. And the answer to this is (probably) to expose the inner gum membrane of the lower lip to control the upper. Basically rolling the lower lip so far out that the rim of the mouthpiece rests more on the internal gum tissue rather than the outer portion most of us typically use.

    But this idea will likely be regarded as a severe and foreign concept to most trumpet players and I can't say I blame them. Even to those of whom you might show a whole "before & after" video to they might still shun the idea of trying a new chop system. Rolling out the lower lip to the extreme will essentially disable the normal usage of it. Temporarily anyway. At least compared to what the trumpet player was used to previously.

    FWI: I've heard suggestions that the Lynch Asymmetric m/piece does this for those cats whom the piece works well for.

    But if the trumpet player is patient and gives the concept a decent trial period of say six months or so he ought to at least get a glimpse of the potential this trick has for his upper register. Half a year later and with regular practice this trick can allow a connected lower register up to some ear splitting Double C's and well above. He will still need more time to develop but at that point his foundation is laid.

    Previously the only cats i know of who tried the extremely rolled out lower lip technique used it purely as a "trick" or alternate setting for notes up in the Cat Anderson range. My source says that Steve Reid does this though i did not hear it from Steve directly. A personal friend of his (and FINE pro trumpet player himself) told me that while employing the wickedly rolled out lower lip Steve can BLAST Triple C's. Well articulated and melodic notes that is. Tones so loud you simply must leave the room in order to avoid eardrum damage. However my source also went on the say that while rolling out or "Wigging his chops" the lowest note Steve can play is a High F (above High C). Thus the system has limited usefulness. Not very practical. Interesting, humorous in fact but impractical. Who needs Triple C's all night? lol

    I also know of another cat who employs the "wig setting" and it too is merely a trick to play Double and triple C's. Something to pull out of the bag when the leader calls a Cat Anderson chart but nowhere else. I've heard tell Paul Cacia may have employed this idea but that source is less relaible.

    As far as i know I may be the only person who decided to start out at the bottom register to give the "Wig" a go. Don't know for sure.

    What I did was roll out the lower lip and merely practice very low tones for several month. Like from Low C down to F# and pedals. It was very tricky to do this because by rolling out the lower lip you practically lose all support from the lower lip until after developing a set of mouth corners sufficient in strength. Simply blowing "fart tone pedals" can take a helluva lot of work.

    However by and by i was able to stabilize the Low C and up to Second Line G or so. After I got about five minutes worth of endurance on these notes I started scratching my way up into the upper register. Playing mere wispy "statics" a la Roy Stevens and such. I did this for another couple of months.

    THE PRESTO!: I had my Sunday afternoon epiphany. While the "Wig" system (I have another name for it but don't want to leave in print just yet) requires unbelievable mouth corners just in order to play in the middle register it oddly does not require much more facial muscle strength to blow WICKED Double C's.

    Once the mouth corners become sufficiently strong and the brain trains the muscles for a few months a Double C becomes about as easy to play as a G Top of the staff. You can blow them while still playing your favorite video game in the other hand.

    Anyway its at least worthy of some consideration and/or discussion. Especially for those who've previously found the other systems limited or unfruitful in extreme range development..
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2012
  9. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    I will be the first to admit that I love my Asymmetric 3C+544. which is the deep asymmetric vs. the shallow Lead 342 which I consequently "don't like" and don't use. That being said, I use more upper lip for ascending notes. The Asymmetric in my opinion -- ONLY helped to teach me to use MORE upper lip and less lower lip, but it support my lower lip such that I can form the small aperture that is needed to play higher notes.
    Well as a matter of principle, and trying to form a consistent aperture -- and use more air support, I find that I can play my whole range without "significant" movements in either lip, and maintaining "roughly" the same aperture setting. Which makes octave leaps and such easier to control --as there is only a fine tuning of the lips and the air support.
    NOW -- we all have to keep in mind -- that one of the principle improvements for me in ascertaining any range was the mindful, consistent use of the 20 minute G. When I do this on a consistent basis -- then I can reasonably assure myself a pretty decent high A ( although dynamic control from soft to loud and such is NOT always possible). When I DO NOT do the 20 minute G -- within 2 or 3 weeks the range --"equilibrates" to the high F area.

    NOW -- practicing the trombone for the last 6 months has done multiple things. I instantly lost the high A range, but the lower notes are more beautiful, louder, and more resonant (at least to the high F) -- After playing the trombone and then switching immediately to the trumpet --- that range is EASY, I am assuming because the trom allows the facial muscles to relax a bit, and also using more air support (which to me is necessary for solid, decent sounding trombone notes). The range is coming back slowly -- but as I said -- it is coming back more controllable, and better sounding.
    Last night I was able to "squeak" out the high A, B, and DHC --- I mean it is NOT a playable level in my opinion, but just the same, IT gives me an indication that range is coming back -- even while playing both instruments.
    All of this is easy ---- after all, I am only practicing 2 hours a night (most nights) -- geared towards 1 hour on each the trumpet and trombone ---
    IT took 3 months for the trom to sound decent -- and I have NOT noticed any depreciation in MY trumpet sound.

    If one is worried about the 20 minute G --- then I suggest to do a series of SIREN LONG TONES. Start (wherever you like) -- lets say the 2nd line G, start a ppp then gradually go to FF and back down to ppp -- as long as you can do it on one breath. Do that several times, and work your way up the scale as far as it is "reasonable sounding".
    NOW -- when you do that -- tell me your lips don't feel like they had a decent workout ---- IN any case, that helps with control --- and I suspect, eventually range.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    In my experience, I agree that the mechanics can be trained so that just about anyone can play high BUT regardless of the physical function, if you don't understand the context of playing high (style, groove), you will end up being no more than the practice room screamer that is a major liability on stage.

    All of this high note stuff starts with the music, not with the body. Mark, Al, Bud, Wayne all have something in common - musical intelligence.

    While I agree that 6 months (to a year) or so for a player without any serious bad habits is enough to appreciably increase the quantity and quality of upper register playing, it has never been enough for the additional musical understanding. That part is like teaching an analphabetic to read, or a dyslexic to write properly. Some NEVER get it.

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