Piccolo problems

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by matthoffner, Dec 19, 2006.

  1. matthoffner

    matthoffner Pianissimo User

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    Jul 12, 2005
    minneapolis, mn
    Hey Manny,

    I'm having a rough time moving from my piccolo to my regular trumpets. I'm finding that my sound thins out and I become less comfortable moving around on my horn. It seems like it takes me around 30 minutes for me to get used to playing my Bb again.

    Could it be the mouthpiece? I use a mouthpiece identical in size to that of my regular horns. Could it just be fatigue? I don't really feel tired, just tight.

    I'm guessing that I'm too tense about my approach to piccolo - I guess I'm wondering how (or if) I can play the instrument in a more relaxed, efficient way. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Matt
     
  2. ellestad

    ellestad New Friend

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    May 18, 2006
    Madison, WI
    Hi Matt -

    I have a little of this trouble too, but I have just been writing it off to ageing chops and their unwillingness to switch from a small, focussed embouschure to a larger, broader one. It usually takes only a few measures for me to shift gears, though.

    I'm also having trouble with my pic chops going stiff on me rather quickly - something recently new to me. After a modest amount of practice - say 15 minutes - my lip starts to stiffen and I start to get some whizz notes. This is middle of the road stuff that I'm playing, not high Bach. I don't feel fatigued at all but things are starting to shut down.

    I play my pic with a "relaxed" approach and a small, concentrated embouschure - small aperture. I used to use a fairly large mouthpiece but I always struggled with high F's and G's. Now, at the urging of Pat Hund of Schilke, I'm playing a Schilke 11AX and it seems to be working quite well without giving up too much of the tone body that I perceived that I got with the bigger mouthpieces. So, why am I getting this stiff lip?

    Any suggestions would be very welcome.

    Thanks.

    Tim Ellestad
     
  3. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

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    Nov 16, 2005
    Vidin, Bulgaria
    Hey Guys,
    Wlcome to our switching trumpet world. Sure I am not Manny, but I know how difficult may be switching from a small MP to a larger one. I don't think that Many will give you a miracle solution...but there is few tricks you can do. I will give couple of sugestion and leave to Manny to evaluate them...and probably add some others.

    1. Get a pic mouthpiece which is as much near as possible to your Bflat/C trumpet mouthpiece. Hakan Hardenberger shared at a RNCM trumpet masterclass that he wnet to some japanese Mp's maker and asked him to make a pic mouthpiece with the same rim as his C trumpet mouthpiece but shalower cup.

    2. Practice switching trumpets within your daily routine. It may helps.

    3. A free blowing pic (Scherzer, Spada, Schagerl, French Besson; don't know anything about Dave's Monette Pics, but they can be too expensive even for a pro) may be helpful but they are usually more expensive than the popular makes like schilke. Don't get me wrong Schilke are quite good, but not my taste...the Resistance is usually quite high and getting a nice round sound on it may be a bit of a problem. Then switching to the Bflat trumpet may be even more difficult depending on your experience and abilities.
     
  4. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Sep 29, 2004
    USA
    Since I actually know your playing I can say that it has to do with what we dealt with in our last lesson: the overactivation of the swallowing action and the closing off of the throat that comes as a result.

    This is an extremely common syndrome we trumpeters go through and easy to cure. It'll take a lot of the Cichowicz style flow studies to get you to maintain a clear, unimpinged passageway for the air to move out. When a trumpeter can do that sort of thing, transitions to another instrument like the piccolo merely become conceptual rather than physical.

    This============ as opposed to <><><><><><><><><

    For example: yesterday a student came in and I hadn't warmed up. I played through Yellow Bird and the opening of marriage of Figaro in about 6 or 7 keys and, boom, ready to go. I payed a couple of examples to help her on the Bb and the next thing she asked me about was playing the Brandenburg. I went downstairs, grabbed my piccolo and started playing some of that for her, remembereing how important it is to stay open and full blooded but NOT bombastic. My vibrato changed, articulation became a little more peppery... all conceptual stuff because the physical part of what I do is healthy.

    The more health we have in our playing the more room we make for a musical approach.

    ML
     
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Jun 18, 2006
    Germany
    Bravo Manny!
    I am happy that you always focus on the player, not the metal.
    It is sooo convenient to blame what is in front of our lips and actually start to believe that it is the stuffier horn, the dry room, the smaller mouthpiece......
    Many times I think players expect the picc to sound as big and fat as their other horns - it just ain't going to happen.
    The very reason for playing a picc is not easier or more high notes, but having the right equipment to get the job done. Except for Bolero, Symphony of Psalms and other "extreme" orchestral pieces, the picc is used in a chamber setting where gracefulness, agility and a chamber "sound" and "volume" are to an advantage. If we just lighten up a bit (or a lot), playing the picc becomes so much easier - and stylistically more correct. If we try to squeeze a Bb or C sound out of that small bell, we will surely twist our playing "out of shape".
    My daughter plays oboe. Playing duets with her is always a lesson in breathing for me- Manny's flow study recommendation is right on!

    What a cool lesson you gave - she payed to watch YOU practice! ;-)
     
  6. matthoffner

    matthoffner Pianissimo User

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    Jul 12, 2005
    minneapolis, mn
    Thanks Manny and others - looks like I know what I am practicing today! Have a good holiday.

    -matt
     
  7. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

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    Nov 16, 2005
    Vidin, Bulgaria
    Manny,

    What is the yellow Bird?
     
  8. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Sep 29, 2004
    USA
    "Yellow Bird" is an old island song that was popular in the days when people liked to sing calypso tunes. It's very beautiful and sounds like the world's prettiest trumpet warm-up!

    So, I use it instead of the sterile long tones that many people use when they warm up.

    ML
     

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