Learning to play a Piccolo Trumpet

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Kamikaze, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    I'm not sure if this means you want to try a picc for the first time or if you have already played one and are looking for something to use for practice. Either way, a cheap picc will not be of any benefit. If you have not tried one at all, find a music store that has one and go try it out.

    I had a fantasy that a picc would allow me to play an octave higher sort of like a real piccolo does for a flute player. But, when I tried one for the first time, I realized that I could not play any higher at all. My chops were just the same as with all of my other trumpets. At the same time, a picc will not go as low as a Bb so there I was stuck with an overall range reduced by an octave rather than increased by an octave. I found it very frustrating and not at all useful to me.

    Maybe when my range improves, I'll go back and try one again but something drastic would have to change before I could ever justify buying one.
  2. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA

    I'm going to put MY two cents of opinion in here. First, PLEASE don't use a 14A4a to start with. In my humble opinion, that is a crutch mouthpiece that trades off good tone for maximum range with the least work. I hear FAR too many trumpet players, both in Chicago and the SF Bay area screeching away on their piccs, and what are they playing? 14A4a or Bach E cup mouthpieces almost without exception. What to use instead? Try using your regular mouthpiece on it to begin with. It'll take some time to develop the chops to play high as you expect to play with it, but your tone has a much better chance of sounding pretty rather than screechy. Your intonation will also be better, as long as you use proper air-support up into the higher register. DON'T PRESS!!!! As you develop and need more range, you might try a mouthpiece >slightly< smaller than your regular mouthpiece. This WILL help with the range, but range upon which you can depend only comes from practice!

    As has been mentioned before, LISTEN to good picc players. Maurice Andre, for one. Wynton, controversial as he is, has a VERY good picc tone on the recordings I've listened to. (I have reservations about some of the choices made in some of his recordings, but his tone can't be faulted by me!). Guy Touvron, and many of the others I can't name off the top of my head. Listen and choose the one you wish to emulate... for me it was Maurice, back in the 1970s when I began playing picc.

    Don't force the sound.... don't try to play so loud. Make love to the trumpet, don't force yourself upon it! Picc is a trumpet that needs finesse, not brute strength! DON'T PRESS!!!

    As has been suggested earlier, work on playing melodies in your easy range first. Work your way up to the stratisphere. I remember working on my range early on, playing an octave lower than intended, then transposing up a step, and then another step until I started to tire out. The next time, I started a step or two down from my previous highest transposition, and continued working my way up. Day by day, my range improved. Sometimes, it didn't, but in the long run, it did. DON'T PRESS!!!!

    Don't be too impatient. It's like any skill, it takes time to develop the physical issues, as well as time to develop the mental issues. You're not going to pick up a baseball bat for the first time and immediately become, uhhh.... (damn sports analogy!)... Babe Ruth! Even the Bambino had to work up to being a legend that even this non-sports guy knows! Did I mention DON'T PRESS?

    Tone, intonation, attack are all more important to me than range. I'd like to think that it shows in my playing, picc and big horns, too! Range will come with time, if you do it right. There are sound clips of me with the South Bay Brass on the website refered to below. Entrance of the Queen of Sheba is one on which I recall playing picc. Some picc obligati on the Cats suites as well.

    'nuff said?

    Guy Clark
    South Bay Brass
    Silicon Valley Brass Band - A Traditional British Brass Band

    ps. DON'T PRESS!!!!!
  3. edfitzvb

    edfitzvb Forte User

    Jun 10, 2008
    Woodlawn, VA
    I can sympathize... I bought a Monique picc on eBay (once had a Selmer 3 valve that I foolishly sold). The Monique had some issues, so I took it to my tech for adjustments. When I went to pick it up and try it out, i will never forget the looks on the faces of the techs at the shop... the eager anticipation fading to oh.... well, that horn doesn't sound so good. i sold it on eBay at a loss as a Piccolo trumpet, would make a fine paperweight. the buyer in their feedback said that I was a "very honest seller." I will not make that mistake again.
  4. Kamikaze

    Kamikaze New Friend

    Apr 23, 2007
    Guy Clark!

    Thank you for the positive and thoughtful information!

    I was wondering what your equipment is in regards to a Piccolo trumpet and Mouthpiece?

    Would you mind sharing?
  5. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
    Hi, Kamikaze!

    I play a Schilke P5-4 that I bought from the ol' man himself at 529 South Wabash, Chicago in 1978 for $750 brand new! :cool:. He gave me a 14A4a with it, and after I expressed some concern about the bright sound I got (I'd been on a Schilke 20D2d for many years by that time) he got out a reamer and put a "Schmidt Backbore" on it. I noticed some difference but not enough to matter to me. I thanked him profusely for his attention, and took my purchase home with me.:lol:

    I found an old Conn something or other cornet mouthpiece in my mouthpiece drawer at home, and took it to school with me (I was about to go into engineering school at that time, and was working for the materials engineering department, so I had access to the machine shop) and started to bore it out. I think I ended up with something approximating a Bach 1 or maybe a Schilke 20 or so, a >little< shallower than my 20D2d that worked nicely for me. The guys in the shop were a bit bemused at my making trumpet noise in the shop :shock:

    I used that combination for years, until I got a Warburton 1D and 12* shank for my C trumpets (I'd also gotten a 1XD cup). I got a 12* cornet shank for the cups, and found that the 1D was a good size for me on picc. Even more years passed, and I found myself using the 1D and 12* shank on my Schilke Eb soprano cornet in the Chicago Brass Band.:play:

    My wife had purchased a used Getzen four valve picc (the old style one) and never really liked it. I find it works pretty well with the 1D and 12* trumpet shank as well as the hard-to-describe GR mouthpiece I also use sometimes. I'd used a borrowed Getzen picc like hers to perform the Brandenburg my second time around. (The first time was in High School on a borrowed (from the ol' man) Schilke F trumpet prototype (... I wish I'd had a Bb picc in those days!! The picc was much easier than the F trumpet! (ya think? ROFL ).

    Oh, yeah, the third and so far, final time I did the Brandenburg was on my P5-4 and I am somewhat ashamed to admit, :oops:I used the 14A4a the ol' man gave me. I think I used other 14A4as the other two times, as well. At least I was able to get the top notes, and I had an unrepaired hernia for all three performances. It was actually the last Brandenburg that made me get it fixed!:thumbsup:

    I'd like to try/get a Scherzer rotary picc, but I'll need to sell some of my other horns before my wife will be happy about it.:evil:

    Too many smileys? Just an experiment...:-P

  6. creedo

    creedo New Friend

    Mar 3, 2008
    here is a good performance of a very difficult piece.. L.Mozart Trumpet concerto in D 1st mvt ... wynton marsalis version..

    YouTube - ‪Leopold Mozart - Concerto for Trumpet 1st Mov.‬&rlm;

    Maurice Andre... Vivaldi's concerto in Ab YouTube - ‪Vivaldi - Trumpet Concerto in A flat‬&rlm;

    and something a little slower Maurice Andre Telemann Trumpet Concerto in D Major 1st mvt. YouTube - ‪Maurice Andre plays Telemann Concerto in D Major - Adagio‬&rlm;

    Take the best sound and make it your own... there are many interpretations on the staples of Piccolo trumpet literature...chose one that is closest to your interpretation and listen ... do the ornaments really work in this place or that? What type of ornaments are the using? break it down .. use what you like ..discard what you don't like... but most of all... make it yours... your interpretation is the one most endeared to YOU!..

    Good luck! :)

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