Stopping the Air

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Aspiring Trumpeter, Nov 7, 2006.

  1. Aspiring Trumpeter

    Aspiring Trumpeter New Friend

    Oct 2, 2005

    I recently had the opportunity to have a lesson with Charles Lazarus and he brought it to my attention that I stop the air when I articulate a quicker passage in a piece of music. Instead of having a solid attack the articulations come out fluffy sounding. We did'nt have a lot of time to go indepth on this topic but he suggested listening closely to great players articulations using the analogy of a child learning to speak.
    Besides doing this are their any excercises in the arbans or other books that would help with fixing this problem? And what should I be listening for in my own playing?

  2. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona

    This is a summary of a portion of the class that I attended at the ITG Conference in Denver given by Jim West. He said that he attributes the ideas here to a presentation that he heard by Ed Sandor during the MENC Conference in Minnesota. I hope these ideas help you too!

    Articulation Concepts

    This was the highlight of the session for me. Mr. West gave a great description of his concepts and I have found a great improvement in my own playing after considering these ideas.

    Articulation is an interruption of the air stream. Consider a free flowing stream of water coming from a faucet. Passing your hand quickly through the water interrupts the stream. However, this movement is very large and inefficient. By lightly touching the side of the stream of water with the side of one finger, similar results are produced, but for much less effort. This is an illustration that I had heard about before, but not the idea about using only the side of one finger (that paints a strong mental image for me).

    Now he applied this concept to a tangible example that really worked for me. When articulating half notes at a slow tempo (say quarter equals 60 BPM), consider how much movement you are currently using. Is it similar to your entire hand passing through the stream of water? Try to minimize this movement to get the same sound, but with significantly reduced effort (the side of the finger brushing against the stream of water). This shorter stroke distance is more efficient which is highly repeatable. By focusing on minimizing movement, and increased repeatability, you are actually working on increased tonguing velocity.

    When I applied this to my own practice, I very quickly broke through a plateau that I have not been able to move through with my single tonguing speed. I like it when I get immediate results from a very simple concept!

    Since this class I have also found great benefit in what Manny (and also Peter Bond and Jens Lindemann) describe related to articulation. Manny’s ideas continue to help me minimize movement and have made all the difference in the clarity of the articulation!

    Here's another good link.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2006
  3. KJaeger

    KJaeger Pianissimo User

    Oct 27, 2004
    Colorado Springs, CO
    I was working on this with my teacher yesterday, because I have always had the same problem (and he could hear it).

    We covered the water faucet analogy that Derek described, and also what my teacher jokingly calls "salami-fication", i.e. treating the sound during fast articulating passages like you are slicing a salami. Even though you may have thin slices (short notes) and thick slices (long notes), from end on each slice should look the same - in other words, each note has equivalent tone quality even though they are of different durations.

    But what really clicked for me was the following imagery - for all of the years I have been playing, I would look at a measure of, say, individual sixteenth notes as... well, as individual sixteenth notes. And I was treating my air the same way - each note an individual entity unto itself. Consequently my articulations were slow, cumbersome and what I would call "phoofy". It dawned on me that I could imagine a passage like that, from an air supply point-of-view anyway, as one long whole note - with my tongue just flicking into that constant uninterrupted airstream to create the sixteenth notes. Immediately, my single- and double-tonguing improved in clarity and speed, and the tone quality of the individual notes was better too. What an epiphany! If the quick passage is a scale or otherwise goes up and down in pitch, I can just treat my air supply as if I were trying to play a glissando rather than a set of discrete individual notes.
    It sounds simple, but it made a huge impact for me right away. One of those "smack-myself-upside-the-head, I-could've-had-a-V8" moments :oops:
  4. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.

    I used to do the same thing. The reason I did it was because very early in my playing I played something for my teacher that ended on a whole note and I ended it with my tongue. My teacher told me to never end a note with my tongue. I took that to mean to always stop the air in-between notes, even 16th notes.

    Believe me, I understand the change!!!!

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