Tongue Levels and flow studies

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by oldenick, Nov 6, 2009.

  1. oldenick

    oldenick Pianissimo User

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  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Nick!

    I'll try not to be confusing in my conciseness--in my way of thinking most of trumpet playing consists of a "both/and," rather than an "either/or."

    While the tongue level may (and I guess does) change when playing, I find it better to think of it as a symptom of good, efficient playing, rather than the cause.

    The Colin approach can and does build technique, and has tons of "proof" that this approach works. Lots of players have improved and even had breakthroughs by consciously isolating the tongue level in practice. No bad-mouthing here.

    Some players, however, have taken it to an extreme, and while having tons of technique also have sounds that are obnoxious and irritating--great for the screech chair, but out of place in a cathedral. The trumpet, in their hands, becomes a megaphone.

    The flow studies are more "organic," and tend to get the trumpet to resonate more. Rather than using the megaphone concept where the trumpet amplifies and directs the "buzz," the idea is to get the whole air column excited, both in the trumpet and in the room. This too can be taken to the extreme, and some name players using this approach have crashed and burned in pieces like the Alpine Symphony.

    Looking at trumpets, lightweight "lead" horns are built with the Colin approach in mind, heavily braced horns "go for the flow."

    My suggestion would be to learn both, and use both to make music, while not getting caught up in the technique.

    This is why I like the "Magic Bubble" concept in which we use the air to "push" the nodes and anti-nodes forward to go higher. Is this scientific? Heck no! It is a quasi-Zen way of getting the mind back to the air, back to the wind in our wind instrument. Then, when things are working, we can check to see what the tongue is doing, just out of curiosity.

    Tongue level is a symptom of; not the cause of good playing.
     
  3. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

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    Thanks for the insight VB! I think I'm going to re-read my Colin book tonight...
     
  4. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

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    VB,

    Could you give us more info on how taking the flow study approach to the extreme could cause someone to crash and burn?
     
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    There is documentation, but I refuse to mention the player (major orchestra status), the orchestra, or where he went to school. So, uhh, I guess not!

    I can give an anecdote, though. I saw and heard Boston play Concerto for Orchestra in Stuttgart. Schlueter played beautifully, but without any "zing" to the sound, without any of the "grab you by the nether regions" approach that the piece deserves. Sounding nice is great, but the trumpet can, and should sometimes sound nasty.

    Ever notice that some jazz/lead/commercial players sometimes make fun of "legit" players because they sound "wimpy?" (All in good fun, of course!) Rightly so!

    This is why I like a both/and approach to playing, as opposed to an either/or.

    Hope this clarifies!
     
  6. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

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    Schlueter is hardly someone I would associate with that approach. Your first comment makes it sound as if the approach itself can limit players. I am not asking you to name the player, but asking if you can clarify your comment since you are offering one players bad day as a critique of an entire approach.
     
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    (Stuff in "[ ]" mine.)

    Hey Diz, the original point was that of "both/and" rather than "either/or." Case in point--there are any number of gifted young (at least in my eyes) trumpeters that can play a beautiful, refined and elegant Samuel Goldenberg und Schmuÿle in Pictures. Unfortunately, Schmuÿle's message is neither beautiful, elegant nor refined! It is supposed to sound nasty and frantic and desperate! The best way of doing that is to raise the tongue "too" high, get a nasal sound, and couple that with an ugly sounding aluminium straight mute.

    So yeah, I am saying that an approach that maximizes beauty at the expense of musical meaning does limit players. Not always, not in all circumstances, but sometimes.

    That is why I advocate a "both/and" rather than an "either/or" approach to playing the trumpet.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2009
  8. tptshark

    tptshark Pianissimo User

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    Hi all,

    For what it's worth, my take on this is that you use the right tool for the job - and that doesn't just mean the right gear setup, but also means the right technique for the intended outcome.

    If you're playing lead in a big band, then smaller gear, higher tongue position, harder articulation, 'wedge' breathing, etc; playing an orchestral gig, then larger gear, a more natural breath, crisper attacks etc

    The thing is that we need to be proficient in all these techniques and therefore need to regularly practice and maintain them. In my own routine, i practice each style/concept of music with a different setup and approach... i now have it so that it no longer presents much of a problem to switch approach depending on the music, though at first it threw a couple of spanners in the works, and feel much more comfortable and confident across the board.

    - in my book, it's definitely a "both/and" rather than an "either/or" approach is what is required for a working professional musician these days.

    Cheers!
    - Adrian
     

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