DVD trumpet lessons

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by paultandberg, Feb 7, 2008.

  1. paultandberg

    paultandberg New Friend

    Nov 25, 2006

    Thanks for the replies.

    Lessons: I live on a farm outside of Newfolden, a small town in northwest Minnesota. The two most likely locations for finding a trumpet teacher are Thief River Falls, MN and Grand Forks, ND (The University of North Dakota is located in Grand Forks).

    Both places are convenient. We usually enroll the kids in various summer programs, math and performing arts, offered by the city and schools of Grand Forks.
    I am hopeful of arranging some lessons for the kids this summer. I would happily contact any forum member that lives in Northwest Minnesota, unlikely as that may be.

    In another development, the high school in town will be hiring a new music instructor (old one retired), and I know that at least one of the applicants is a brass person.

    DVDs: Shortly after my initial post, I ordered two trumpet lesson DVDs: “I Love the Trumpet” by Warren Vache, and “Trumpet Secrets Revealed” by John Thomas.

    I particularly liked the Warren Vache DVD. The man is charming, and his DVD usefully combines lesson tips (breathing and blowing) with horn care tips (oiling and cleaning). It is nice package.

    The John Thomas DVD was also good. Some aspects of his embouchure lesson caused some confusion, on my part, at least. The central theme seemed to be relaxation, which I can understand as good, but his blowing was so relaxed it seemed almost more of a whistle than a lip buzz.
    I had always thought that you should be able to buzz out a tune by just using your vibrating lips (no mouthpiece or horn) and that doing so was a good exercise. But the embouchure Thomas demonstrated was more like blowing out a candle than buzzing out a tune.
    But, regardless of my confusion, we all did the pencil drill and worked on relaxing the lips so that they could flap away inside the mouthpiece. I have, pending additional information, suspended the “lips only tune buzzing” drills. I have substituted some drills that have the kids relaxing their lips as much as possible while still producing clear tones and intervals with a mouthpiece.

    BUT THE DRILLS ARE LIGHT. FOR THE MAJOR MOST PART, THE KIDS ARE JUST PLAYING THE HORN AND MAKING MUSIC. Some practice is from the lesson books, and some practice is just playing, by ear, tunes they are interested in. And Gus is continuing to amaze his band teacher in school. His “Trumpet Voluntary” produced a “WOW, that was GREAT” (or so he reported to me. And I was one proud Dad, because the little bugger had it nailed. I remembered the tune from college band. And we really worked on it, with Gus playing and me loudly singing along making trumpet noises).

    (It is fun, for me, going through the lesson books with the kids. The tunes are the same tunes I played when I was in band, and it is a joy to hear them again.)

    I will check out the other DVDs that have been suggested.

    Last edited: Mar 20, 2008
    BrassOnLine likes this.
  2. Jim Wilson

    Jim Wilson New Friend

    Mar 14, 2006

    Wow, your kids appear blessed to have a dad that is really involved in their lives. It's neat to see you enjoying your remembrances of playing the trumpet and encouraging a passion for music in your kids. I noted your "confusion" about lip/mouthpiece buzzing. This is a fundamental issue and an important one for your kids to grasp for good embouchure development. It's amazing how well you described the difference between a tight buzz that involves a lot of lip tension and the "blowing the candle out" approach. I am a definite advocate of the very relaxed approach and was impressed that you quickly abandoned the "tight" approach in your directions for your kids.

    To help you "validate" that relaxed approach thinking, I'm posting an article written by Allen Vizzuti that I copied off another forum (someone else had pasted it there). It is excellent and may be helpful to you in being comfortable with a new way of thinking about how the lips vibrate/generate sound.

    Basics for Beginning Brass
    By Allen Vizzutti
    I can hardly believe I've been playing the trumpet for 39 years. Thousands of hours of practice, millions of notes, and multitudes of performances have come and gone. Thirty-two countries and a million air miles later I have come to understand some fundamentals of brass playing proven to me again and again by my experiences. I believe rapid improvement through daily practice is readily achievable when certain basics are in order.
    Three words have led more brass players astray than any other common misconception. Three frequently used words have strangled the tone quality of brass instrumentalists for decades. Three frequently used words have perpetuated a concept in brass playing that is completely erroneous, a concept that actually inhibits development of tone and therefore constrains growth in all areas of brass technique. These three words of instruction have been taught with sincerity and consistency since the dawn of modern brass instruction; three words whose effect can result in months of work to undo that which was inadvertently established on the first lesson day. In most cases neither the teacher nor the player is even aware of having made a costly misstep. The three little words are: "Buzz your lips."
    The sound quality created by an instrumentalist is the fundamental on which the technique is based. Tone quality is likewise a key barometer in gauging a player's progress. Great sound is the gateway to great technique. This includes range and endurance. Studying technique as such without having discovered the sensation of producing a beautiful core sound will prove fruitless on any instrument. My seven-year old daughter, when reminded to hold her violin and bow in a relaxed and proper manner, usually plays with better intonation and a decent sound. If I ask her to play with "her biggest and best sound" she not only plays in tune and beautifully, but her hands and arms become relaxed and properly positioned! If we teach our beginning brass students to buzz into the mouthpiece the inevitable result will be that pinched and fuzzy beginner sound we know all too well. As I have discovered in starting my 8 and 10 year old sons, (on cornet and trumpet), the so called "beginner sound" can be avoided all together. A really nice basic sound is possible from the first day. Once a beautiful tone is established no instrumentalist wants to sound the other way again.
    The most important sensation to teach the beginning trumpet, or brass student, is that of blowing smooth aggressive air through the horn and feeling the resistance in sending the air through the tubing. The first critical prerequisite is a relaxed breath in. Open the throat and let the air fall in. Pulling the air in creates tension. Tension is an enemy. Letting the air rush in to fill the lungs to maximum level can create relaxation as well as give one the fuel to play correctly. Imagine the liquid captured in a drinking straw released as one lifts a finger from its end. Breathe using that imagery.
    Hold the trumpet in a relaxed and comfortable fashion. The left hand should wrap around the valve casing. Larger hands should balance the horn in such a way that using the first and third valve slides is possible. Smaller hands should do the best they can and the smallest of hands might want to consider using a cornet because it is a little easier to hold. The right thumb should be placed between the first two valve casings and the three long fingers should be fingertips on valve tops. Avoid the right hand little finger ring as much as possible as it promotes excessive mouthpiece on lip pressure which can really inhibit progress. Stand or sit up straight to practice so that breathing is relaxed and easy. Don't be concerned whether or not the trumpet bell points up or as is more common, down. Bell position will be dictated by the over or under bite of teeth and jaw. Ask beginning students to blow air through the mouthpiece without regard to embouchure. They should create a long rush of white noise. Always encourage them to make the white noise sound bigger and longer. Remind the student often to consciously and deeply breathe in as part of the natural playing process. Repeat the process by blowing on the lead pipe of the horn, then through the mouthpiece and horn assembled, still producing white noise without regard to embouchure. Demonstrate as you go along. Deep, relaxed breathing and long sustained airflow are the goals.
    Establishing an embouchure is the next order of business. If you are a brass player with a reasonably normal setup, demonstrate by example, with a minimum of words. If you are not a brass player remember these basics: 1) the concept of the embouchure is relaxed, 2) the mouthpiece should be placed near the center of the mouth so that the rim is not sitting on the red portion of the lips, and 3) the corners of the mouth should be firm against the teeth and a little bit down. The center of the lips should remain flexible and relaxed. One should be able to speak with the corners held firmly. Do not encourage the student to pull the corners back in a smile. Please use common sense. Embouchures vary from human to human like everything else due to variations in physical makeup such as differences in our teeth, jaws, chins and lips.
    With the horn in hands, lips moistened and the new embouchure in place, instruct the student to once again create the long sustained air flow through the mouthpiece and horn in an aggressive fashion. You may hear the first note at this point. If not, repeat the routine asking students to put their lips a bit closer together. Remember not to create a pass/fail situation. Any result is OK. Sooner or later the result will be spectacular. You'll be impressed with the quality of sound of the first notes and there is no buzzing involved. Shortly after the successful production of the first notes you will want to teach the student to add a beginning articulation to the notes. Tension and a choked sound can manifest themselves at this step. The feeling of blowing through the syllable "tooo" or "daaah" does not come naturally. You must consciously train the student to blow through the mouthpiece and horn, once again producing the "tooo" syllable for a sharp attack and a "daaah" syllable for a dull attack. Once again establish the sensation of blowing without embouchure and sound. Then transfer the concept to producing a note as before, only this time it will have an articulated beginning. Practicing without any attack is beneficial at any time.
    Having said all of that, lip buzzing does have its place for more advanced players. It can be a fine exercise for warming up the facial tissue and muscles. Similarly mouthpiece playing is very effective for improving air flow, lip (aperture) control and ear training. Think of lip buzzing, mouthpiece playing and trumpet playing as separate entities. Simply remember that buzzing into a brass instrument creates a lousy sound. Blowing into a brass instrument creates a vibrating air column and a potentially beautiful sound. Once a solid core sound is established, technical development is a matter of manipulating the sound through practice, lessons and experimentation.
    It's really quite amazing how powerful the pull of music is once we begin to play an instrument. It's equally amazing how challenging learning to play a musical instrument is and how many questions we still have about how to best go about it. After all of these years I'm still trying to figure out many aspects of trumpet performance. Fundamental concepts of trumpet playing and common sense seem to prove themselves to me over and over. As a young frustrated trumpet student I asked my father and teacher, "When will I learn to play the high notes?" I offer his answer to you: "Be patient. They will come."
    So don't buzz to create your sound. Don't teach buzzing to create a good sound. A good buzz is not all that it's cracked up to be.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2008
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Jim, thank you. This is an extremely valuable resource!
  4. paultandberg

    paultandberg New Friend

    Nov 25, 2006
    Thanks for the helpful reply, Jim.

  5. paultandberg

    paultandberg New Friend

    Nov 25, 2006

    I have, belatedly, noted your helpful links and emailed (Alan Parsons?) at the linked address.

    Thanks for the help offered.

  6. rolling360

    rolling360 New Friend

    Dec 3, 2007
    Look up Trent Austin in Salem Ma. He does interactive web based instruction. He is a world class player and instructor. Try contacting him through here: Unlock Your Talent!
  7. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    One thing else to note, I suppose, is that many good trumpeters become very good teachers (but not always) - 'employing' a trumpet teacher not only passes on skills from the mentor to the student (who then mutates those lessons) but also keeps old trumpeters active, alive, and financially viable. What does this all mean - well the process is cyclic, there eventually becomes a space for the student to become the teacher. Perfect.
  8. jazz9

    jazz9 Piano User

    Dec 5, 2007
    Chilhowie, VA
    I was unknowingly subjected to Wynton Marsalis's Marsalis on Music, but I don't know about any others. This really helped me to become a fan of him and the trumpet.

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