Focusing tone on a piccolo trumpet

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Trumpet guy, Apr 5, 2008.

  1. Trumpet guy

    Trumpet guy Forte User

    Feb 9, 2008
    Hi. I'm new to the piccolo trumpet. I just tried one a few days ago and have a very hard time focusing my embrochure on the instrument, even when using my regular trumpet mouthpiece on the converter leadpipe. A lot of air was leaking, even at the low C and D on the picc. And i had trouble getting up to the high A and B that i can consistently hit on a larger trumpet.

    Does my embrochure need to be tighter, or is it a problem of air control?
  2. bagmangood

    bagmangood Forte User

    Try playing simple stuff, like scales first (if you aren't already)
    It may be just a case of getting used to playing on the piccolo.
    Also, if you're tonguing, its going to have to be a little short and more deliberate than you're used to, you can't hit "close enough" on a piccolo (i'm not saying you necessarily do but that definitely helped me...)
  3. loudog

    loudog Piano User

    Jan 4, 2004
    Grand Island, NE
    One thing that is really important when playing piccolo trumpet (or any trumpet, for that matter) is to have a really well developed sound concept in your head as you play. Be sure to listen to a lot of piccolo players that you like, so you really know how the thing is supposed to sound.

    One thing that might help as well, is to think of your piccolo trumpet sound as being the "falsetto" of your regular trumpet sound. To the point of when you sing your trumpet part, sing it in falsetto.

    Hope this helps!
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Give a trombone player your trumpet and watch exactly the same thing happen!
    Do not forget, a picc is a whole octave away from a standard Bb and is a completely different experience. You will need time and patience to adjust. There are no shortcuts. Patience and long soft tones will get you there faster and better than anything else that I know!
  5. Gary Schutza

    Gary Schutza Pianissimo User

    Apr 6, 2007
    Kansas City
    Trumpet Guy,
    Before I go into various aspects of playing the piccolo trumpet maybe it would be a good idea to stress who should not be spending time on one. In general, if there are playing problems (constricted breathing, not particularly strong chops....) working on the piccolo will only make them worse, and quickly. If you strain to get out a high F on the Bb trumpet, you'll strain just as much if not more using the piccolo. The piccolo won't actually make it any easier. I find that I lose a 3rd or so on the extreme high range on the piccolo. Forgive me if I sound like I'm talking down to you, I don't intend to. I just feel strongly that the piccolo should only be added to your "bag of tricks" when you are really ready and won't do any damage. Have you already progressed through the C trumpet, the D or Eb trumpet?

    Enough about that.

    I've found that many commercial players use the piccolo trumpet for a distinct tone. In their line of work when a composer writes for a picc. they want that particular color of sound. In a classical player things are a bit different. I think you want all your horns to have the same basic sound concept (within reason, of course). In the orchestra if you are using a piccolo for a bit of added security you definitely don't want the sound to be thin (unless your sound is thin on all horns), if possible. You want it to be as big a sound as possible. If you are using the piccolo only as a solo instrument then this is less important.
    I truly believe that the piccolo trumpet should be approached like any trumpet. You should not treat is like a tiny toy trumpet. Push just as much air through it as you would a regular trumpet. Don't back off on the air just because it's such a tiny little toy-like thing. Therein lies problems.

    You are on the right track if you read the previous excellent posts. Start with easy scales. I find that playing slow quarter notes, in expanding intervals works particularly well for me. Helps me to center the pitch. Stay away from lip slur type things in the beginning, as they might not help you to really center the pitch.
    Also, you might limit the time you spend on this instrument. It's new and all, but if you spend too much time on it to the exclusion of your normal practice, you will find it starts to change the way you play your other horns. All things in moderation.

    again, sorry if I sound like I'm talking down to you, I don't mean to.

    Best of luck with you new horn. By the way, I use a Kanstul piccolo I'm very fond of. I also use a fairly large mouthpiece on it. A Stork 1.5P. Mr. Stork says it's a bit larger than a stork 1. Works for me, but isn't for everyone. My teacher (Frank Kaderabek) has always used a Bach 7EW. He says it gives him a darker, more mellow sound. I have a bit of trouble with the 7 sized rim, though.

    Gary Schutza
    Kansas City Symphony

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