Cookie-cutter mouthpieces for beginners?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Jude, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. Jude

    Jude Piano User

    318
    1
    Dec 2, 2007
    While waiting for the family Wonder horn to be made playable I started reading up on the old cornets and came across an article by Ted Turner at the Conn Loyalist site about the advantages of the old-style cornet mouthpieces. I started buzzing the "Levy Model" mpc (also marked "Conn 7"), which looked and felt a lot like the French horn mouthpieces I used back in high-school, and continued using it with the Olds Ambassador I picked up while the repairman worked his way through the September back-to-school rush of instruments needing attention. (The Bach 7C that came with the Olds seemed hopelessly shallow, I couldn't do much of anything with it.)

    After a month or so of lessons I started switching between the cookie-cutter mpc (on the trumpet) and the trumpet mpc, but it was hard to control the latter - I kept burbling up to higher partials during lessons. By now the 7C seems comfortable and familiar and I'm noticing I wear out a lot later than with the old Levy Model.

    Are the advantages of using the deep, narrow style - learning to use minimal pressure, developing a smaller aperture, etc. - worth the decrease in playing time when using it at this point? Or would it be more efficient to develop range, endurance, etc. on the standard mpc and then come back to the small one and refine mpc use later ? Does anybody have any experience here?

    TIA,

    Jude
     
  2. Eeviac

    Eeviac Piano User

    Dunno, Mr Peyton in Band always had everyone use a 7C. I'm using one now, and this friend of mine who used to play a LONG time ago tried my 7C on his cornet (kinda jammed it on there) and liked it more so he went and got a 7C corner mouthpiece.

    -- "Everybody BLOW" - Mr. Peyton
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    61
    16,611
    7,947
    Jun 18, 2006
    Germany
    Jude,
    nobody can really answer that question for you without seeing you play!

    The cookie cutter part refers to the rim only. It has a very sharp edge on the inside and that clearly defines what part of the lip is vibrating. That type of rim is deemed "uncomfortable" by MANY players, and not only ones that use excessive pressure. If you get along with a rim like that, a very clear sound is the reward with a possible decrease in flexibility if you use much pressure at all.

    The cup shape and depth are another story all together. A deep cup leaves a lot of room for the lips to swell and offers no "back pressure" to support the lips. That means that your chops have to support themselves and that costs energy. The deeper cup also means a darker sound that may or may not be suitable depending on which parts you play.

    Developing range means that you pick a good average mouthpiece and then stick with it until you have developed reliable habits. No mouthpiece prevents you from using a minimum of pressure or developing a controlled aperature. You will not progress faster or slower just by switching mouthpieces. I would venture to say that almost all professional players are NOT using cookie cutter mouthpieces and can still get the job done. Mr. Turner makes a compelling argument and can back it up with recordings too. This is proof that their are many paths to success and no universal solution.

    As I do not know how old you are or what or how much you play, I can only say that you should NOT change mouthpieces this drastically without a clear roadmap of what you are getting into and definitely not without outside help. Stick with the 7C until you are playing reliably. You may NEVER have to change!
     
    MJ likes this.
  4. Jude

    Jude Piano User

    318
    1
    Dec 2, 2007
    Thanks for the comments, Robin. I asked my teacher about switching between mouthpieces during the first lesson (I'm an adult comebacker) and he said he'd never heard of it, but if the French-horn-like mpc was what was more comfortable, use it, at least to start with.

    By now (2 mos. later) the 7C is easier for high notes, especially after a day on the Levy. Using that is like doing pushups with a cement block on your back (this is totally a thought-experiment, in my case) - the ordinary way seems so much easier afterwards. The problem is becoming tired out too soon if I overuse the smaller mpc. Perhaps instead of starting the day with the Levy I should use the easier one first (to make sure I have enough strength for songs and scales and such) and then switch to the Levy for strength-building.

    In general the idea seems to be working - after three months of playing I've started hitting high C (on the 7C, not the Levy), which I'm certain I never did when I was in high-school. I just get a little nervous when I overdo it (on the Levy - I can go, off and on, all day on the 7C) and my cheek muscles are still protesting the next day. I guess what I was hoping for in posting here was for somebody to confidently tell me to stop whining and tough it out until I actually develop the muscles needed. Since nobody has, I'll tell myself, and take notes on what happens. (As a teacher, you have a responsibility not to cause any lasting damage to your students or even slow down their development - I can afford to experiment on myself.)

    Thanks again for your thoughts.
     
  5. Jude

    Jude Piano User

    318
    1
    Dec 2, 2007
    My teacher is more resigned to students doing whatever they want, it looks like. I'm not sure if it's because I'm a lot older than you, or because he's a lot older than Mr. Peyton.
     
  6. KRax!

    KRax! Pianissimo User

    187
    50
    Jan 5, 2008
    Sweden
    Actually I have been doing the same. Last spring I always played my warm up with an old cookie cutter mouthpiece. I had two purposes, to learn to play with less pressure and to build endurance as the cookie cutter mouthpiece (as described by Rowuk) so to say works against pressure and this mouthpiece was also very tough to play due to a very tight and deep cup. As you say, it may be very tiring but it did work for me. I cannot play with the trumpet just hanging in a rope but it is not so far away nowadays. And my endurance is way better now.

    My first post... just took the step and registered to tell you that it can work out well.

    Probably it can be bad too, but I was good for me.:D
     
  7. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    8,208
    7,603
    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    I have a "cookie cutter" mouthpiece, and play it on my 1870's rotary valve cornet. The horn plays better with it than a modern mouthpiece and it has the right period sound for our performances. Would I use it on a modern instrument? No way! The sound's too soft and diffused with that deep conical cup, kind of dead-sounding. If you're wanting a cornet mouthpiece to work your chops, try a modern big, deep one such as a Denis Wick. Playing one of these is a workout (not to mention the beautiful, rich tone you get), and I'm amazed at my easier upper range on trumpet with a normal mouthpiece after primarily playing the cornet for a number of months.
     
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    61
    16,611
    7,947
    Jun 18, 2006
    Germany
    Jude,
    I don't know what type of time you are putting in daily, but if it is around 30-45 minutes and your cheeks still hurt, I would suggest some breathing exercizes. It sound to me like your face muscles are doing more work than they need to!

    Without the horn, stand up straight, chin tucked in slightly, feet about shoulder width apart, knees not locked. Think of breathing as a circle-the left side is inhale and the right exhale. At the top and bottom of the circle, you have no sharp corners and your breathing should be the same a SMOOTH transition from in- to exhale and ex- to inhale. Practice a couple of breathing cycles until you get the hang of what I am talking about: no sudden motions to get the air in or out. Fill up as far as you can and try to stretch the volume of air envelope. When you get the feeling that you are moving about 50% more air than presently, replace exhale with play (long tones without the tongue), being 150% sure that you are not turning the circle into a diamond-only exhale without EVER holding the air in. To start playing a tune you have to learn to use the circle of breathing in the beat that you are playing in. Allow time to make it smooth. If a quarter note does not let you fill up, use a half note - just use the tempo of the piece that you are playing! Get your breathing together and your face will take much more punishment!

    If you get a chance, go to the Monette site and read their concepts on body use. They are universal and work even if you do not use their equipment.
     
  9. Jude

    Jude Piano User

    318
    1
    Dec 2, 2007
    KRax!

    Hi! Thanks for the info (and for signing up in order to support another experimenter) - it's no longer an "N=1 trial"!

    I can palm the slur from low C to middle C and am working on the middle C to E, so I think this is working. (I haven't tried the rope, yet.)

    Dale - my cornet is an old (1898) Conn Wonder (it's why I have the old mpc). If I get a more recent cornet at some point I'll definitely get a modern mouthpiece. At this point I'm intentionally making things harder than they have to be, as an investment in making everything easier later. I'm glad to hear playing the cornet has helped you with endurance.

    Rowuk - The cheeks didn't get tired after 30-45 min of normal practice, but from over-doing range-extension exercises on the small mpc on Day 2 (by mistake - on Day 1 I used the trumet mpc). I got carried away and didn't take enough rests. The first time I realized I had those muscles under the eye-sockets was when I decided to try a 20-min middle C (if G is good, C is better, right?) Usually I get in a couple of hours of practice a day, with more time just tooting my way through a collection of Czech (major, step-wise, even rhythms) and Slovak (minor, large jumps, backwards-dotted rhythms) folk tunes.

    For help with breathing I've been doing a modification of Nick Drozdoff's warmup (down the chromatic scale from 2nd line G as softly as possible, with absolutely minimal pressure) holding each note for a count of 32 - this is teaching the body to tank up very quickly. Learning to adjust the deepness of the breaths to the amount of air required for a phrase is taking time. I'll take a look at the Monette site you recommended.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2008
  10. Budlight

    Budlight New Friend

    5
    0
    Jan 1, 2008
    Gulf Breeze,Florida
    I'll try it too! Great post and advice form rowuk. I love the visualization and the circle breathing recommendation. Makes total sense, have a great day, Budlight
     

Share This Page