Ghitalla's teachings

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by ilikethetrumpet, Oct 14, 2006.

  1. ilikethetrumpet

    ilikethetrumpet Pianissimo User

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    I brought up some second-hand Ghitalla teachings in the EC forum awhile back, and a TMer, trumpettrax, PMd me asking if I would expound on his method. I'm wise enough to recognize, however, that I am not a Trumpet Master. I am a mere novice still grappling with a few issues of tone production, and what's more, I never studied with him directly, just from a couple of his former students.

    In the context of my earlier post that mentioned him--how to start a student--I was referring to the embrochure efficiency that many of his students demonstrate: finding the optimal position of the lips that will allow for the greatest flexibility. I also have collected, here and there, photocopies of many expanding-interval exercises originating from his studio that are designed to test and facilitate efficient flexibility.

    My reason for posting, however, is that I'm sure there are several former U of M, Rice, or Boston-area players on this board, and perhaps this thread could serve as a place that they could address some aspects or tenets of his pedagogy. I'd be eager to learn more as well. Thank!
     
  2. TPT81

    TPT81 New Friend

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    It is hard to sum up Ghitalla's teaching in one post, so I won't even try. I studied with Ghitalla from the fall of 1999 to the time of his death in December of 2001. Ghitalla and I covered several things in those years, including a major embouchure change during my freshman year at Rice. Here are a couple of things we went over a lot.

    Embouchure - Ghitalla's view was that you should find an embouchure that makes the high register as easy as possible. Instead of starting low, and working your way up, the way most of us started, his method was to start high and build down. The "new" embouchure was normally as rolled in as possible, and the first note that most students produce on this embouchure is normally above the staff. From here, the range is expanded down, but never past the point where the student can still return to the upper register with the ease that they started with. Over time, the embouchure does roll out some, but it is all about finding the balance that works best for the student.

    2. We worked A LOT on technique. Every week, Ghitalla would assign several excersizes in my little notebook (I still have it). We started with several excersizes in the Arban book, mainly focussing on articulation, scales, and so forth. From there we moved through the first two vizzutti books, and then on the Nagel's Speed Skills and Trumpet Skills. We also worked out of his own transposition method, the Dufresne/Voisin sightreading book, and the Colin Lip Flexibilities. Mr. Ghitalla was also a proponent of the Stamp method. Etudes were started with the Clarke Characteristic Studies, the Bozza etudes, and then I believe we worked a little on Bitsch.

    3. Musicality. Ghitalla was perhaps the most original and expressive trumpet player, and perhaps musician, that I have ever met. Though he was no longer able to play, Ghitalla was capable of translating everything to his students by singing to them. I hope that one day, I will be half as expressive and beautiful a trumpet player as he was.

    These are kind of broad, general ideas. I'm sure there are other people here that can add more, and if you want more specific explanations, please ask. As I said, it is impossible to sum up all of his concepts in one post, so please, other Ghitalla students, let's keep this going. Ghitalla was a dear friend and mentor to me, so I love remembering him and sharing what he taught me.

    Zeb
     
  3. thomashooten

    thomashooten Pianissimo User

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    I agree with everything Zeb said. Ghitalla was a great teacher and mentor. I did many of the same things that Zeb did with Ghitalla when I studied with him from 1998-2000. (Zeb did you ever do his transposition book? what a challenge) One thing I would add is that Ghitalla was a REALLY hard worker that passionately cared about his students. He taught me that trumpet playing is not only about a good set up, or technique, etc... but about being a musician that plays with heart, and CONVICTION!
    I really miss that guy and hope people remember what a great contribution he made to the world of music.
     
  4. ilikethetrumpet

    ilikethetrumpet Pianissimo User

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    Exactly, that's why I started this forum: because the teachings aren't exactly reducible to a catchphrasable method. Playing everything with one embrochure--the rolled-in one that is optimal for high notes--is perhaps a bit controversial, and it can be a frustrating thing to learn and shouldn't be undertaken except under intelligent supervision. But the results are really noticable. What's the best way to improve your endurance? Damage your face less. How do you "not press?" By finding an ergonomic way for the lips to vibrate at all dynamics, pitch-levels, and with all articulations, so there's no need to close the aperture with the mouthpiece.

    The danger of having this on a web forum, though--and why I deferred the question--is that there is a great deal of "don't try this at home" involved with this approach, I feel. I had a seasoned teacher who spent a great deal of time with Ghitalla and a couple decades applying those teachings. While it transformed my playing (I would have quit had I not learned to play so much more easily and comfortably), the corollary is that if you have a painful or inefficient high embrochure, applying that to all your registers is clearly not the ticket.

    About being rolled-in: this is very helpful. To strengthen and reenforce this embrochure, I was taught to grasp a coffee straw in the center of the lips to simulate the act of pouting independent of jaw motion--meaning, if you drop your jaw substantially for low notes, you will be out of position for later high notes, and whether you like it or not, you'll probably use excess mouthpiece pressure to get the lips vibrating.

    I use the coffee-straw with beginning students to demonstrate setting up an embrochure.
     
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I was fortunate to get some lessons with Ghitalla in the 70s. He sang the melodies even back then. His playing was a lot like singing. He experimented with horns, tuning bell (long before it was fashionable), slides and had an excellent overview of what worked and what was fantasy in trumpet construction.
    He was a person turned on to life and everything that made it enjoyable. He was also a great cook - I think he lived the analogy of good taste in music and food!
    I remember Bitsch, Stamp, Clarke and some handwritten exercises that got lost with sheet music and about 100 LPs in my move to Europe 30 years ago. I don't remember ever having worked specifically on embouchure - my problems as a teenager were not my chops...............
     
  6. TPT81

    TPT81 New Friend

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    Couple more things...

    Tom- Thanks for mentioning Ghitalla's passion for life and music. As some of you may know, Ghitalla suffered a heart attack during a jury in 1998, and many people figured that would be the end of his teaching career. On the contrary, Ghitalla recommitted himself to giving %110 to his teaching.

    I forgot to mention that Ghitalla and I also spent a lot of time on having a uniform oral cavity (tongue position) for all registers. His thinking was that your tongue should always be in the "EEEE" position. From here, we did lots of lip bends to expand the register downward while maintaining the same tongue position. This was also used to ensure accuracy and response. Though the tongue may change shape for the lower notes and higher notes, you should always feel the back of your tongue touching your top teeth. That was his concept.

    Let's keep this going guys.

    Zeb
     
  7. trumpettrax

    trumpettrax Piano User

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    I posed a question before and Manny answered, but wanted to get an answer from some Ghitalla students. I read an article about Mr. Ghitalla and he was quoted telling students he was looking for a FAT sound. Do any of you remember hearing that at lessons? If so, what is the FAT sound he was looking for i.e. what is a FAT sound.


    Trax
     
  8. TPT81

    TPT81 New Friend

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    I don't remember Ghitalla speaking specifically of a FAT sound. However, if you wanted an example, I would look to his recording of Poem of Ecstacy. Ghitalla always wanted us to play with a broad sound, not a thin one. Also, remember that Ghitalla was a chameleon. If you listen to his recordings, he was always striving for the appropriate sound for the situation. For example, his sound on the Hummel is nothing like his sound on Poem of Ecstacy. He tried to get us to have this same flexibility within our own town colors.

    Zeb
     
  9. davidjohnson

    davidjohnson Piano User

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    'you should always feel the back of your tongue touching your top teeth.'

    that sounds like blowing around the tongue sides.

    dj
     
  10. MJ

    MJ Administrator Staff Member

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    I've enjoyed reading this thread!

    MJ
     

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