The way Maynard held his horn

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Alex_C, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    I can't cut and paste any more (I'm just incredibly thankful to have access to YouTube at all) but if you put "Maynard Ferguson Somewhere" into Youtube's search, you'll get an old black and white video of Maynard playing the song "Somewhere" from West Side Story.

    I like it, he goes low, he goes high .....

    But what's really amazing to me is .... look how he holds his horn! He's holding it by the bottom part of the valves, for the most part, I think just his index finger above the tubes, the tip of is where the ring is, but I also note he's not using the ring. High, low, I looked, and I think it's mostly used low? But I don't see him using it at all.

    Question One: Is his method of holding the horn a good one? Because I'm getting tired of cramming my fingers in there between the tubes.

    Question Two: How come he's not using the tuning ring? Is he good enough, that he just uses his lips?
  2. Moshe Mizrachi

    Moshe Mizrachi Pianissimo User

    Feb 17, 2010
    By the year 2000 or so Maynard was using a more "standard" left hand grip because arthritis was affecting his hands, making his original grip too painful and difficult.

    The grip that a person uses affects the tilt of the trumpet slightly
    and thus affects the amount of pressure on the upper lip versus lower lip.

    Maynard had a downstream embouchure, meaning that the air exited his lips in a downward direction and that as he played higher notes his trumpet tilted downward more.
    Some downstream players find that having fewer fingers above the 3rd slide helps to keep the trumpet tilted slightly downward and keep the pressure on the lips balanced better.

    Doc Severinsen has an upstream embouchure, meaning that the air exits his lips in an upward direction and that as he plays higher notes his trumpet tilts upward more.
    Some upstream players find that more fingers above the 3rd slide helps to keep the trumpet tilted slightly upward and keep the pressure on the lips balanced better.

    Try changing your left hand grip by putting most fingers above the 3rd slide,
    then try most fingers below the 3rd valve slide,
    and notice for yourself how it affects trumpet tilt slightly.

    There is no steadfast rule that says that a person with a particular embouchure type should use a particular left hand hold.
    Each player should experiment and find for himself which left hand grip works best for him.
    But I think most players do find that one particular left hand grip, whichever it turns out to be for the individual, will tend to slightly improve playing because of the slight effect it has on the embouchure (trumpet tilt affects distribution of the mouthpiece pressure on the upper lip versus lower lip).
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2010
  3. wolfmann

    wolfmann Pianissimo User

    Aug 19, 2010
    I have no idea if what Moshe says is true.
    But I will say That Maynard back in the 60s-70s held his horn the way you say,sometimes cupping it underneath.
    I have seen Maynard countless times in concert and have spoke with him a few times.
    I asked him about his handhold and he said it was because he didnt want to pull the horn into him causing too much pressure.
  4. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    Moshe - I seem to be a downstream player too.

    Wolfman - I like the idea of the hold keeping the player from pulling the horn into their face. It looks like a much more relaxed hold than the usual method.

    All food for thought.
  5. bigtiny

    bigtiny Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2005
    Lynn Nicholson held his horn like that when he played with Maynard too...he may still hold it that way, don't know. One thing this would do is prevent you from using too much pressure...

  6. Moshe Mizrachi

    Moshe Mizrachi Pianissimo User

    Feb 17, 2010
    If you want to see the ultimate "minimum mouthpiece pressure" left hand grip,
    look at Lynn Nicholson starting at about 2:09 in the following clip...

    YouTube - maynard ferguson - macarthur park

    That was about 1975, and Lynn was in his early 20's.

    (And the "cave man" trombone player who played so beautifully just before Lynn in that clip above was Randy Purcell, one of the greatest, who just recently passed away.)

    For a more recent video of Lynn, see the video below...

    YouTube - Lynn Nicholson - Up close & Personal!

    Lynn's Web site is at...

    Lynn Nicholson Web site

    As for Maynard,
    he often told people to use less mouthpiece pressure,
    but most of his life Maynard used a LOT of mouthpiece pressure.
    So his message was a good one,
    but he didn't always practice what he preached.
    I am a huge Maynard fan,
    so I don't mean to bad-mouth him when I say that.

    If you look at videos of Bill Chase after about 1970 you will see him using miminum mouthpiece pressure, although his entire life up to the late 1960's he had always used way too much mouthpiece pressure.
    Chase admitted that he once used so much mouthpiece pressure in the late 1950's that he accidentally bent the lead pipe on his trumpet.
    Chase went to Armando Ghitalla in the late 1960's and was taught to use minimum mouthpiece pressure for the rest of his life (Chase died in a plane crash in 1974).

    Minimum mouthpiece pressure is what I use to easily play softly up to G above High C using an extremely deep Wick 3 cornet mouthpiece on my Conn 5A cornet, then I must use additional mouthpiece pressure to strain out the rest of the notes up to the Double C.
    If I switch to the shallower Wick 3B, which is still deeper than almost all Bach cups, then I can use the minimum mouthpiece pressure all the way up to the Double High C and with much greater power, volume.
    Tom Turner, who usually posts in Trumpet Herald, also uses minimum mouthpiece pressure with a very deep vintage cornet mouthpiece to play the upper register.
    And we all agree that when we start using minimum mouthpiece pressure, we change our grip on the trumpet to a gentle but firm hold rather than our previous "mash the lips death grip on the trumpet".

    For example, the palm of my left hand never touches the valve casing now.
    I'm not holding the cornet with the finger-tips of my left hand, since that would not be a steady enough grip for a heavy cornet.
    What part of my left hand is touching the valve casing?
    The pad of my left thumb is against the back of the first valve casing.
    The bend just before the final finger joint of my pointing finger and middle finger are against the front of the 3rd valve casing, and my ring finger goes through the 3rd valve slide finger ring just to have a place to put the finger even though I never use the 3rd slide.
    My little finger just rests gently on top of the 3rd slide.
    On the right hand I do use the pinky hook, but just because I find that it helps to hold my hand in the proper position for fingering; if I don't use the pinky hook it seems as though my right hand "wanders" around a bit above the 3 valves. But the end of my pinky is just gently placed in the pinky hook, not really "grabbing" the pinky hook.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2010
  7. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    If I hold my horn like Maynard and Nicholson, will I be able to play like them?
  8. Moshe Mizrachi

    Moshe Mizrachi Pianissimo User

    Feb 17, 2010
    You will be able to play as well as Maynard now plays.

    [BTW... I am just teasing, just joking...]
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2010
  9. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    For decades I held my horn like MF. I still do when I'm playing MF or similar stuff.
    Otherwise, I hold the horn so I can move the slides.
    The partials are closer in the upper register and I'm guessing that's why I don't use my slides when I play up there.
  10. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    If you hold it with only the fingerTIPS, there's even less pressure. Look at the clip of Lynn Nicholson when she's playing (age 20's). Fingertips. Makes it sort of float out there but is not easy, depending on the strength of your fingers. That's my guitar fretting hand so no problem for me but after a while, it just didn't feel right and I went back to a normal, relaxed grip. Interesting to experiment with, though.


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