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

    Will add just this one footnote:

    Even if I could prove to a given trumpet player (who is seeking easy extreme range) a guarantee that spending six months or so on a foreign chop system would give him some well connected, and seriously powerful Double C's he would probably not want to make the effort. Or he would start the change but give up along the way.

    Most aspiring trumpet players will not do this and I can't say I blame them. To re-start his embouchure in a way much dissimilar to his most "natural" chop setting is a very unsettling thing. Only the most devout trumpet player will stick to this.

    But this is the difference between myself and some of the others who struggle/experiment:

    I do not mind the time it takes to work in a new chop system. To me the whole process is fascinating. I would think nothing of spending TWENTY YEARS working in an alternate setting just to keep myself happy or entertained. That said I would NEVER forgo my regular embouchure. No sense chasing rainbows or killing the golden goose.

    Keep the main embouchure strong and yet fiddle a trifle now and then with alternate settings. Is educational to say the least. I once attached a shallow trombone mouthpiece to a trumpet shank in order to prove a point about embouchure. On that described m/piece I learned to play my first well connected Triple C's (no foolin!). That and in the middle/lower registers the tone is extra dark/cool. The main problem is articulation. It doesn't like to accept the tongue without cracking the tone. If I put tons of hours into the thing I can expect to blow fairly accurate High C's etc. But complete security of attack seems somewhat fleeting at present. This may not be the case down the road but only time will tell.

    OK one more footnote, sorry...:

    A certain well respected lead player we've probably all heard of is essentially a human scream playing machine. I've never seen him tire even after several hours of Double and Triple C playing. His ability seems inhuman. However there is a reason for this: His chops accept the air in probably the most efficient way possible ever found within the confines of the human body. i don't think that even Roy Stevens himself had such chops and Roy was generally good to a QUADRUPLE C even when not in top physical shape.

    However the lead player I'm thinking of, God bless him has NO SOUL to his sound. Its like you took every note of the trumpet and played it through a synthesizer. His tone kind of "chops wood" at times. And yes he was a lead player for Maynard at one time so i guess that probably gives him away. he is a truly nice guy and real inspiration. But as for tone?

    I'd rather hear my former middle school teacher blow the trumpet. Best orchestral sound I've ever heard. What an inspiration. And he struggled for just a mere High C. I was his "designated hitter" from way back in the day 1971. There i was just a punk kid with only raw power. But he needed me to cap the high notes of a gig. All at my tender age of 16.

    Life isn't fair but we deal with it.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  2. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Wow between rowuk and local, we are reading powerful stuff... Thanks for not only discussing the way but also the road! It is not worth it to chuck it all just to hit that double high C. It is not the holy grail... but may be the pathway to wholely derail your overall technique.
  3. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    For Me,
    I am taking the time to work "whatever" my chop system is -- slow, and steady -- and after 3 and a half years -- I see good solid progress, I see reproducible range without "excess" aperture movement --- and relatively "easy" octave leaps and intervals because of that (not moving the chop setting from bottom to top of the range -- in other words, not having an extra setup for high range) --- so for me, it is a long process --- but it works.
  4. BustedChops

    BustedChops Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 1, 2011
    There is nothing better than having "it" work. When "it" does there is a great sense of bravado :)
  5. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011

    Well thanks for your kind words to both R and myself. However I would like to qualify a statement you made here:

    "It is not worth it to chuck it all just to hit that double high C"

    and add that it isn't predictable in each case that making a major embouchure change will either result in fantastic range (and more importantly) NOR would that change necessarily sabotage good tone and other characteristics of musicality.

    In fact if a state of high efficiency can be achieved that results in extreme range capability this might even significantly improve the tone quality.

    I almost want to put that statement in caps. OK here goes:

    "In fact if a state of high efficiency can be achieved that results in extreme range capability this might even significantly improve the tone quality. "

    Reference: I'm a little over half way through a major embouchure change. Something i started perhaps back in 2005 but kept putting on the back burner from time to time since. Every once in a while I would pull it out and either continue on because it seemed to be improving or put back on the stove because it was sluggish. This is a natural reaction as the individual can not really predict if his switch will bear fruit down the road or not. Not in advance. Especially on such a radical alteration as pooching out the lower lip. This effectively DISABLES all previously relevant muscle usage in the lower lip. A confusing and frustrating condition.

    That said every once in a while this change would produce some of the most golden tones I've ever blown through the horn. And with very little effort on my part. Like the embouchure would accept the air more easily. Producing a very easy pianissimo among other improved efficiency. Gradually these tones occurred more often until they became far more predictable in expectation. And as the tone improved i noticed the improved sound (i already had a pretty good tone on my main chops anyway) was coupled with the sudden ability to blow almost ear drum breaking Double C's.

    Now when i get this improved EASY tone I recognize a tonal similarity with some of the cats we know as having outstanding high range. So in other words the ear can be a handy guide in directing the chops. It isn't a replacement for understanding the physics involved (at least in a non gifted trumpet player) but a useful barometer of understanding.

    I tell a buddy of mine who plays second in our R & B band that he really ought to start experimenting with the pooched out lower lip thing starting right now. That while the initial change is awkward and confusing the time involved learning it isn't all that excessive. That by learning to blow a decent sounding second line G Natural on a potentially unlimited embouchure he is closer to playing solid Double C's this way than on his regular chops which extend only to a High f or so. A limited embouchure simply isn't capable of playing DHC with any kind of acceptable physical effort. You can't jam a Double C more than once a night and expect to keep playing the rest of the gig. Not if it takes a herculean effort risking blackout on stage.

    Limited vs unlimited chop settings. its a tough call sometimes and outside of Roy Stevens there isn't much written about it. You'll be a pioneer when you start it.

    I suggest all involved take notes and make videos along the way.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012
  6. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    It certainly can work for you in this way as well... Yet another great point by Local. However in medicine we balance the decision on risk/benefit ratio and in trumpet playing there is so little research on this subject. So have at it if you make this change and may the benefit side of this change be on the side of the trumpeter changing their approach.
  7. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    As with rowuk's point, it's coordination of all aspects, not just the embouchure, but yes, these epiphanies make all the work worth it. As for what I've found in myself and others who have comeback to restart their studies on the trpt, these include relaxed but focused air, firm but pooched (relaxed) chops, proper mpc choice for the work at hand, big ears, lots of rest and consistency.

    I had a talk with a great lead player I play next to most every week, Bill Lamb ex of Tower and Buddy Rich, of whom his own teacher said, "no one told Bill that trumpet was hard." There's no getting detailed explanations from guys like Bill, who play trpt easier than most of us drive a car, but if you give him a large mpc, not much of what he does works. Suddenly more tension is introduced into the system: chops have a bit more work to do, the air has to push to get past that tension, and he's cooked. You can used to anything, but why? That was his point to me. I've recently begun experimenting with a Merc. 1.5, and yes, it does make things easier there, but I'm not happy yet with my sound.

    Now, we're talking about the lead book here, or tasks like soloing upstairs. It's a specialized field and you've got to have the ears for it, to hear up there. Miles didn't start playing F, G and A (yes A: Stella By Starlight), until "I could hear it." I admit that I have similar issues, hearing what I want to do upstairs and it's why my solos generally stay below high D. We all have physical and aural limitations and preferences, but with consistency, there's no limit to your own limits.

    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I also find the process fascinating and the more I teach, the more I realize that we are not born equal. This is the basic tenet for calculating success or failure. Inside of 3 lessons it is pretty easy to figure out where the rest is going to go, if there is a fire worth kindling or a student worth chopping wood for. Going out and buying lighter fluid is pretty stupid if the wood is wet.

    The student on fire can't be stopped. The dud with the finest method and teacher will hopefully at least enjoy playing himself...............

    Every teacher hopes for that student with the drive to suck up everything that we can offer. My ratio is about one in 15.
  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    EdMann brings up a very good point and this is one of the variables of playing high... If you put a size 9 foot into a size 12 shoe, they are likely going to trip stumble and fall when running fast. Some people's lip anatomy may be more sensitive to size and movement withing the cup. For me, I don't think this is an issue, as I have no trouble plalying a small Olds 3 mouth piece (like a 10 1/2 Bach) yet can play just as well and almost as high on my 3 Filp Oaks mouthpiece (kinda like a Bach 3). So once again, size could be an issue for some, but not for others... Too many variables at play here.
  10. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011

    This is the problem: very little documented research exists on the development of embouchure in regards to range development. The reason we ought to encourage those who begin to develop range to make a playing diary complete with videos etc. Most of us probably won't do this but it would be helpful.

    Besides our own experience and that of our peers and students all we have are the various systems. Maybe we should list the systems which seem closely attached to range development. While most the authors would claim them as complete brass playing methods the general trumpet playing public is drawn to these largely as high note/range systems

    Stevens-Costello Had a few remarkable successes such as Roy Roman. We know that the Stevens-Costello, a forward jaw so-called "upstream" method is played naturally by some of the most outstanding high note players in the trumpet field. The first few that come to my mind are Cat Anderson, Bud Brisbois, Jon Faddis and Doc Severinsen. Maybe Doc is best known as a screamer but he has excellent register and doesn't use much physical effort to play it. Whether they know this or not these cats play the Stevens-Costello system. The shoe fits.

    The Stevens system however was much noted for a vast amount of miserable failures. it just doesn't work well for the great majority. I have theorized (and am very certain it is true) that only those type with a very supple upper lip texture will pull the system off. There are a couple other necessary factors too but that is the major one.

    About five years ago i received a list of several students who while very diligent about working the Stevens-Costello approach couldn't pull it off at all. One a man who described Roy Stevens as

    "at least in my case Roy was a terrible teacher".

    Stevens did not help anyone who played with the receded lower jaw embouchure. For Roy it was "my way or the highway". So I'm told anyway.

    Claude Gordon: A pedal tone philosophy largely passed down from Maggio of whom i believe Gordon studied with himself. Like Stevens there were many failures but probably far fewer. His was also a more popular approach. because it helped a higher percentage of cats.

    Carmine Caruso: Of all of them his is the most interesting. Doesn't concern itself with physics at all! So of course it too had many failures but it at least drew a clear picture of the value of sub-conscious training. The metronome and foot tapping essentially a way of putting the brass student into a more "real world" context. That by insisting the student practice with metronome his practice resembles the live concert situation. I believe that this method probably develops "usable range" more quickly.

    The main problem with Caruso is that it does not define or attempt to correct embouchure defects. So in effect the student might be like a track and field athlete who runs on his heels. He would improve his time at running the hundred but the glaring defect of improper foot balance is never addressed. Really in all the systems the physics are inadequately addressed but his Caruso's the most glaring. At least in Gordon and Maggio they try and set the student on what they feel is a proper track chop-wise.

    Donald Reinhard Probably the best of all the systems despite some obvious mistakes in identifying the applicable physics. The Reinhardt system will always help a trumpet player but unfortunately it is very complex. Another problem is that Reinhardt was himself just a trombone player. As such he never clearly understood the condition the average cat with limited range has on the trumpet. He also stuck to some rigid concepts. Such as his demand that no brass player tongue between their lips. All despite the fact that many trumpet players find this articulation method best.

    Jerome Callet I don't know enough about him to comment much. I do like the name of one of his early works "Trumpet Yoga" though: Trumpet yoga: Jerome Callet: Books because in my mind the imagery of using yoga is very helpful in understanding how to develop an alternative embouchure setting. That just like the yoga student sitting comfortably in the lotus position or other odd contortions the trumpet player looking to modify his chop setting to attain extreme range might find the new chop setting most unusual. And yet while the first few months of this strange position is almost a depressing circumstance he could be closer to finding his Double High C while blowing a low c on such an embouchure. i tell the second trumpet in my band that if he started playing Low C's on an unlimited embouchure he's closer to developing a Double C than while playing a High F on his regular chops.

    Louis Maggio "I can teach you everything sonny except how to ask for money"...

    In my own case when I started working the Maggio pedals my High F came around very quickly. All of a sudden I had this monster sounding High F and G while just a sophomore in high school. Unfortunately that is where my range stayed for the next thirty years or so. There is a strong correlation between the Maggio pedals/system and the development of strong usable lead trumpet range. Then again pedals will be a poor choice for other cats. According to the late Bud Brisbois "pedals almost scewed me up".

    There are probably a few others and granted of the list above only Callet is still alive. I didn't include a few newer approaches like Jeff Smiley's though maybe I should have. His seems largely an offshoot of Callet and perhaps some Gordon. His "Balanced Embouchure" book an interesting read if only from the way Jeff describes teachers who while well respected draw their students from those who already have a fair amount of natural talent. Like those students who would get accepted in say a major conservatory. So the teacher essentially is allowed to "cherry pick" from the vast pool of trumpet players. This automatically gives him a good reputation but really doesn't say much about the teacher's understanding of chop differences and the inherent inadequacies of the average player. Those that have chop problems? They aren't taught.

    So Jeff has some good ideas.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012

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