Pedal C

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by hhsTrumpet, Sep 16, 2012.

  1. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    My interpretation of pedals and the way I use them .... Vizzutti's Warm-up on the Dominant 7 chords ... I do them further down then he has written ... down to pedal C ... no extended work on them ... just part of one exercise. No messing with my embrouchure either ... There is also another note bending exercise I work on that has pedals in it. It's not that big of a deal to me and it's a very small part.I don't think any player doing an honest workout would screw himself up on pedals unless alot of time is devoted to it and/or they contort their chops to produce the tone.
    It also seems beneficial to be able to produce a tone on attack that doesn't fall into a partial naturally.
    Then again, no one is paying to hear me play either :)
  2. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    Here is where I gotta take you to task. Apologies for putting you on the spot. AND I realize that it may appear that I have gone hard on you. Instead I challenge the ideas your present NOT you specifically.

    It isn't enough to say:

    "So & so said to do pedals this way and because he is a great player and teacher we must also do as he does".

    This is what is known as "dogma". Religions do this a lot. Claude Gordon did this. He had a domineering personality, was well liked and played great.

    However he was completely full of poop with some explanations. Many/most of his supposedly "scientific" statements do not stand up to a sincere, well thought out investigation and analysis. It isn't enough to say:

    "Do the pedals right or not at all"

    Instead one must analyze WHY the pedals MAY work. Then go on and explain why they may not work and who may or may not be well served by them.

    I actually can tell you why pedals work (for those that they do work for). And I can tell you why they don't work for some players like Bud Brisbois.

    But merely offering dogma (on pedal tone usage or trumpet playing advice in general) doesn't lead to profitable conclusions on a predictable basis. This is what we ought to be looking for:

    Predictably successful strategies for trumpet playing practice, development. Concepts and ideas that rig success and eliminate chance.

    Some people will respond positively to pedal tone practice. Some may not. Some like to play the pedals open, some can not do it except with all three valves down. No matter how hard they try.

    First and foremost lets start examining why cats like Bud Brisbois claimed the pedals almost ruined him. Then explain why he is known as the greatest altissimo trumpet player of his generation.


    " I never do pedal tones, the only time I did they just about destroyed the rest of my playing. So they don't work for me, but you might be different."

    from: scroll nearly the whole way down if you don't believe me.

    Lastly: An old friend came to me in the mid 1980's. A trumpet player I met in college who had been studying with Claude Gordon himself (and at no small expense) for nearly ten years.

    Think about that: the kid had taken private lessons from Claude Gordon himself for almost a decade.

    OK and what was his physical condition as a trumpet player? His chops were nearly ruined. His tone had gone kaput, and he struggled to play a mere High C.

    When I had known the old boy back in college he could at least blow a half decent High F in practice.

    What was his problem?

    He like, Brisbois was a forward jaw trumpet player. The kind prone to playing with dry lips and with the pushed forward jaw and the 2/3rds lower lip, 1/3rd upper lip typical of the forward jaw trumpet player.

    Claude had him doing endless pedals and playing a HUGE mouthpiece. A Claude Gordon mouthpiece I guess ($ before people) similar in size as the Bach 1. Even WORSE still he changed the poor guy to the typical 2/3rds upper, 1/3 lower lip setting more common to receded jaw trumpet players. A bad bad BAD fit for him. Claude of course insisted he play this way or take a hike.

    Though my old friend was in sad, desperate shape I "fixed" his playing within a week. How?

    I realized that as a forward jaw trumpet player (Type IV in Reinhardt, typical Stevens-Costello embouchure) he was a very bad fit for pedal tones. As Brisbois explained in his quote above. I also analyzed and determined that the huge, sharp edged mouthpiece was KILLING his endurance and volume in the upper register.

    Note that Brisbois used a mouthpiece like this

    "Bud settled on a Bob Reeves mouthpiece. He described his mouthpiece in the following way, "one with a fairly flat rim, medium width with a rounded bite, so as not to cut the lip tissue. A very small cup diameter, close to a Bach 10 1/2 C. The cup has a fairly conical shape, which prevents the air resistance from becoming too excessive. The backbore should have a fairly even taper that perfectly meets the receiver in the leadpipe of the horn."

    again from: scroll down abt 3/4's the way.

    When my buddy switched to a fairly small mouthpiece he suddenly got great volume on his high notes. Bigness in sound on a forward jaw trumpet player is often found on the smaller m/pieces. I also liked his sweet, ringing tone, intonation and control much more. Suddenly the trumpet became a really easy instrument for him to play.

    So my friend's upper register and endurance problems were EASILY cured simply by my application of statistics in relation to the physical type of trumpet player that he was. And this was long before I learned less than half the stuff I know now.

    One odd thing about the old boy is that even after i conclusively proved to him that Claude had "effed him up good and plenty" through inadequate teaching methods he still remained a faithful follower of Mr. Gordon. In fact that may have been Claude's main strength as a teacher: he instilled devotion and faith in his students.

    And to be fair there are some things I agree with Claude on. His emphasis on breathing, the notion that there is plenty of room at the top (of the profession). And that it is the vast mediocre middle area of technical skill that is overfilled by us. And his timeless saying:

    "Trumpet players will buy anything if you tack a high note on it"

    Thus I forgive Claude Gordon. Even if he screwed up quite a few trumpet players. He did the best he could with what he had.

    So: I recommend that anyone truly interested in teaching others the upper register to please stay open minded. You and we are not immune to the laws of physics.

    Moral of story?

    Local's posts ALWAYS BACKED UP WITH FACTS. Usually with referenced links, quotes.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  3. ultratrumpet

    ultratrumpet Piano User

    Jul 10, 2009
    Old Lyme, Connecticut

    Gee, let's discount the experience of Herbert l. Clarke's 60 years as perhaps the world's greatest Cornet Soloist and teacher, knowledge he passed along Claude Gordon, add the 70 years of Mr. Gordon's experience as a top professional trumpet player and teacher that he passed along to Bill Knevitt and hundreds of students who are now professional players. Add Mr. Knevitt's 50 years as a player and teacher of hundreds of successful players. That's close to 200 years of experience!

    I am not here to argue or debate. I am here to share my 51 years of experiences that helped me and thousands of others develop as trumpet players.

    As for devotees of Stevens, Callet, Reinhardt, Stamp, Caruso, Chicago School, Jeff Smiley's "Balanced Embouchure, etc, etc.... All the power to you, and good luck.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  4. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011

    Do you see what you're doing? I don't mean this as a negative remark. You seem sincere. I'm asking do you understand the condition you're making versus the one I am?

    You're using what i think is called the "ad hom" defense: "these important people said this works so therefor it must be true". Sometimes this is known as the "more people believe this theory than yours so they all must be right" explanation

    The popularity or the status of the person who believes in the theory is not the best determination of its validity. Had we taken this method for certain Columbus never would have crossed the Atlantic. His was a less popular view than the Pope's which was the ridiculous idea that Earth was flat and that the stars were held in place by giant crystal wheels.

    In the case of Gordon and most all the other brass playing methodologies none can guarantee success in every single individual because none apply the adaptable physics. Mostly its a hit or miss study.

    Of the ones you mentioned Smiley's is the most recent. I've read his book cover to cover and found his understanding of teaching processes similar. In that most apply a "one size fits all" strategy. Some do not even attempt to approach anything resembling physics. I know that Caruso ignored all of that. So probably did several other of the more recent ones.

    The disagreement i have with Smiley is that his focus of "roll in, roll out" is a matter of "Deep Embouchure Theory" and not all that well explained. Delving into complex strategies such as deciding to roll in or roll out is a little like teaching quantum physics to the fourth grader. far better to teach the obvious limiting factors of chop adjustment such as leaving enough lip flesh hanging below the upper teeth. That and relaxing all flesh within the mouthpiece.

    So what we're continuing to see, even in the 21st century is a "hit or miss" set of studies. None of which even come close to defining the very simple physics involved. So we can expect high failure rates among all the students who apply the ideas within these books. Although the authors will probably refuse to admit this.

    And then on top of that we have the insistence of younger and developing players use mouthpieces wholly inadequate to their playing capabilities.
  5. ultratrumpet

    ultratrumpet Piano User

    Jul 10, 2009
    Old Lyme, Connecticut
    One size does not fit all...Mr. Gordon realized this more than most teaches, if he found a student with a low mouthpiece placement but who played well with this set up he was known to leave it alone. He tailored his private teaching to individual students. It's a fact that between Clarke, Gordon, Knevitt and all the students who have become successful players and teaches, that all other methods combined have nowhere near their success. The proof is shown in the results.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  6. sj3209

    sj3209 Piano User

    Nov 22, 2006
    Amador County, Calif.
    The christian prays and attains a calm state. The atheist meditates and attains a calm state. The athiest says to the christian, "You are not scientific, therefore your results are flawed and don't matter."

    The teacher says to the student, "visualize this happening." The student is able to improve and sees results. If the scientific basis for the visulalization is wrong, does it matter?

    Second point and this is related to quantum theory. The trumpet player uses equipment A with a small bore to the MP and horn. They say tongue arch and air have limited impact and I have trouble playing pedal C. The second player uses equipment B with a larger bore and says tongue arch and air have tremendous impact and pedal C is easy to play open and in tune. Both are right. The equipment influences the results, but both will argue their perspective. As with quantum theory, the view changes the results.
  7. Jerry Freedman

    Jerry Freedman Piano User

    Mar 4, 2005
    There are different definitions of "correct" pedals. Gordon has students playing pedals with more or less the same embouchure used in normal playing. The Gordon systems produce great players. Callet, Smiley and Pocius have the student playing double pedals ( starting an octave below pedal C) with the bottom lip outside the mouthpiece. Pocius even disapproves of using the first octave of pedals as adding unnecessary tension. These teachers produce great players. Caruso used pedals played anyway the student could get them as long as the pedal exercise was followed by a two octave slurred chromatic scale. Caruso produced great players. Reinhardt produced great players and forbade his students any type of pedal practice. So...what is the correct way to play pedals?
  8. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011

    There isn't one.

    Note that none of these teachers describe WHY the pedals helped in the particular person for whom they were prescribed. Nor do we even see an explanation why they shouldn't help by Reinhardt who opposed them.

    It's as if someone went to the doctor and the MD ordered a medication for the patient but wouldn't explain the chemicals in the pill nor the reasoning for taking the stuff in the first place. The medicine itself had not been put through any clinical trials and received no peer review nor acceptance by the FDA. Just plenty of advertising...

    The trumpet world is thus filled with irresponsible sources of information. Much contradictory and none group tested. So lotsa luck choosing a program of embouchure development here folks!
  9. ultratrumpet

    ultratrumpet Piano User

    Jul 10, 2009
    Old Lyme, Connecticut
    There isn't 50, 60, 100 different ways to play the trumpet, there are only two, the right way and the wrong way.

    Bill Knevitt
  10. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Agreed. I was told almost the same thing from some very high profile players - basically saying although Gordon was
    a great player his ideas on teaching others were of little to no use.

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