Embouchure is gone. At my wits end....

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by davidwelborn, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. Ljazztrm

    Ljazztrm Mezzo Piano User

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    David, if you can find a Caruso teacher in your area, that would be ideal. Caruso is one of those methods that having a personal teacher really helps. Laurie Frink also has her book Flexus out which a lot of pros in my area use and is based on Caruso's teaching. Laurie was married to Carmine for a number of years. I was fortunate enough to have weekly lessons with Laurie when she was alive for about a year and she really helped me balance my chops and play more efficiently. All the best, Lex
     
  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    So in the midst of this thread with the "buy this book," and the "check out this method," it brings me back to something I've talked about for a while, and that's this basic fact:

    No matter what you play - everything from "Hot Cross Buns" to the "Carnival of Venice," and everything in between, ALL trumpet playing is comprised of a few basic constructs -- (not necessarily in order)

    1.) tone production
    2.) Articulation
    3.) Fingers and coordination with articulation
    4.) Flexibility and lip slurs
    5.) Breath control

    All of those are combined with phrasing, notation, time/tempo, etc to make music, but the mechanics are all the same. It's the amount of facility and control we have over those mechanics that determines how well we play, and what we have the ability to play.

    Due to the fact that I'm the trumpet section leader for the National Guard band I'm a part of, I had the opportunity to sit in on an AMPA (Army Musician Proficiency Assessment) this weekend to audition a high school kid hoping to qualify to get into the National Guard band for some college money. The AMPA consists of the musician playing a selection of prepared pieces they choose that show off their versatility and strengths, and they also get a packet of tunes for a quick preparation part - they get 24 hours(ish) to prepare the tunes that are assigned in their packet.

    This kid struggled, and he didn't make the grade to get in. Why? Mainly because his fundamentals were just not strong enough, so during the whole thing he was fighting technique in an effort to make music. His chops were unfocused and his articulation was not clean and precise, and so it affected EVERYTHING. His tone, his range, his time, his accuracy - everything.

    Any one of the above constructs can be approached and worked on to improve them. There are a number of different ways to do it, but why should it take a book or a method? If we know some of the basics - scales, scale patterns and that sort of thing, those basic constructs can be worked to a great extent without using any method books at all, and in fact, it might be more beneficial if it's just the player and the horn. It's easy to get distracted by the page and not pay attention to the critical small details about what's happening between the player and the horn/mouthpiece.

    To the OP I suggest this - start working on those basics and let it be just you and the horn. Really pay attention to what's going on between you and the metal. Really focus in on it and make the small changes that bring the improvement you are seeking. Start with basic articulation in the low register. There's a lot you can learn by simply doing a bunch of 16th notes on a G in the staff, and gradually descending down to low F#. It takes chops focus, proper air usage, and reduced mouthpiece pressure to cleanly articulate in that range, and if you can't do it there, you can't do it anywhere else.

    Clean it up at the foundation, and see where that takes you. Seriously - take two weeks and work the heck out of your articulation down low to clean it up as much as possible. Don't play anything higher than a 3rd space C, and work the heck out of the octave between low G and 2nd line G in the staff. Two weeks - just you and the horn. Work on nothing but cleaning up your articulation, and cleaning up the fingers with nothing more than a G major scale, a C major scale, and chromatic patterns - C-to-C, or low G-to-G in the staff. Warm up with some simple long tones and then hit those articulations. Rest frequently, don't play loudly, and keep mouthpiece pressure in mind. Don't think too hard about how hard or soft the attacks are - think more along the lines of how clean and crisp they are.

    After two weeks, check your progress. Check how much stronger your chops are. Check how much more robust your sound is. Check how much more endurance you have. Check how much more control over your dynamics you have.

    If I'm wrong, fine - go work out of some method book. But if you do that for two weeks straight, I bet it goes a long way toward fixing your current chops issues.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018 at 1:04 PM
  3. GeorgeB

    GeorgeB Mezzo Forte User

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    You should be teaching, Patrick.
     
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  4. Dennis78

    Dennis78 Fortissimo User

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    I think he does. His posts have taught me quite a bit
     
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  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    I don't know about all of that. All I know is that I learned a lot of things about playing the hard way, (by doing, and often by doing incorrectly to start with) and that what I'm able to do on the horn has come from just putting in the time in the practice room - I haven't had a lot in the way of formal instruction, and I haven't worked on a lot of stuff out of method books.

    Ultimately, I think that working exercises and stuff out of methods is just work to tighten up technique and improve general fluency, and there are different paths to that. I know that I put in a lot of time at one point in my life doing some pretty basic work in the practice room, but I did it in a very focused way. Keep in mind, I'm not a world class player - I get by. I do gig, but I know a lot of players here in the area who are much better than I am, and there's plenty on the horn that I can't do.
     
  6. Ljazztrm

    Ljazztrm Mezzo Piano User

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    Hey Patrick, interesting idea. Just did 20 minutes to see how this would feel on my chops. Definitely feels good and I think I will suggest it to a couple of students I'm teaching at a summer jazz camp this summer. I think it will help stabilize things for them with tone and endurance. Thanks for sharing this man! All the very best, Lex
     
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  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Thanks Lex - I appreciate that. With what I suggested, that's a prescriptive thing to try to clean up a specific issue - it's not something I'd suggest as a long term thing, but more as a means to get things back into balance so that a full and comprehensive practice regimen can be resumed.

    Some of this goes back to my time as a young Army Bandsman stationed at my first duty station - the First US Army Band at Fort Meade, MD. At that point in my life I had LOTS of time - I didn't have a girlfriend and I didn't have a car. All I had was a phone card, and lots and lots of time, and I lived at the band hall. I remember one summer going into a practice space almost every night, and getting really focused on what I was practicing, to the point where I was paring my nightly practice sessions down to just one aspect of technique per day. One day would be nothing but articulation - 2+ hours of working nothing but articulation. Up and down scales and patterns, single, double and triple tongued. The next day would be working tone production where I'd work long tones through extreme crescendos and decrescendos, always focusing on clarity of tone and control. The day after that would be nothing but lip slurs and arpeggios. I virtually never used a page or method book when working my technique this way - I was totally focused on fine tuning, and really dialing in on what was going on between me and the horn.

    It's amazing how much progress can be made in just a month or so when you're working your technique that way. In hindsight, I'd probably have been better off if I'd have also incorporated some technical and characteristic studies, particularly to work my weak 3rd finger, but at that time I was a very solid player technically, and my technique was so honed in that I was also a very accurate player - I rarely chipped or missed a note back then.
     
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  8. GeorgeB

    GeorgeB Mezzo Forte User

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    Me as well. He has helped me a lot more than he knows.
     
  9. mike ansberry

    mike ansberry Forte User

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    A lot of good advice here. I might caution against trying to change too many things at the same time.
     
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  10. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    That's one of the reasons I'm advocating for a very simple and straightforward approach with the articulation thing. It's very easy to get caught up thinking about too much, to the point where an aspiring player can get analysis paralysis.

    Touching back on my post from above, the HS kid we auditioned at the National Guard band last weekend had almost no variance in his ability to articulate - it didn't matter the passage he was playing, it all sounded more or less the same, and what was there wasn't that good. It was all kind of thuddy and poorly defined. (On a side note, if he's reading this thread, my intent is not to beat him down - simply to point out an honest observation.)

    Furthermore, working with the HS jazz band the last few years, the lack of attention to attacks and variance in articulation is something I've noticed with almost all of my players, and it's something we talk about in rehearsals. I don't know why it seems to be so overlooked because in my own efforts, when I started working hard on improving my articulation and attacks all of those years ago, one of the first things that improved was my overall chops focus.
     
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