Tongue levels and slurs.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by BrotherBACH, May 15, 2011.

  1. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

    Oct 5, 2010
    As well as many other things are going, it would seem as if lip slurs with the same fingering are the bane of my trumpet existence. My first teacher once said that fourth line D was the defining point where things get difficult.

    My harmonic lip slurs are OK up until the Bb just above the stave with open fingering (i.e., 0). But, this is a VERY hard wall that I seldom get past to high C. My teacher keeps emphasizing tongue levels and not the embouchure muscles per se; The corners pin the lips to vibrate with the appropriate stiffness and the tongue level is used to move between notes. I am just now learning about tongue levels how to get it to work for me during slurs.

    The way I have been doing slurs is through use of my lips, tightening them and controlling things with the lower lip. This by coincidence is specifically stated in the R. Shuebruk Lip Trainers book on page 11. H.L. Clarke says the same thing in his Setting Up Drills on page 5. My teacher refers me to Claude Gordon's Systematic Approach on pages 5 and 6 which seems to say the exact opposite.

    Here is the weird thing, I can chromatically slur to E above high C quite comfortably. Using and coordinating my air does not seem to be a problem. In fact, I would never know I had a problem if it were not for harmonic slurs and barely being able to get between Bb and high C.
    Does the community (you) know of any on- or off-horn exercises that will help me get an "Ah Ha" moment in using the tongue and not the brute force of the embouchure muscles and lips?

  2. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Why the need for an "Ah Ha" moment? Using the muscles as you are describing is a great toning excercise as long as you don't over-do-it. So keep up the good workout. I honestly think you are already on the right tract.
  3. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    my 2 cents as a comebacker a little over 2 years ago is that it takes time.
    lip slurs were difficult for like the first year -- and even now - some days just "suck" instead of blow.
    so - practice, hang in there and don't get frustrated -- I find "more" or "faster" ---"extra" air seems to help in my lips slurs up out of the staff.
  4. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

    Oct 5, 2010
    Thanks for your messages and PMs of support. I must admit to being discouraged about harmonic slurs but I will keep plugging away.

  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The biggest problem with slurs is that we try to PLAY the individual notes instead of just letting them happen.

    Big breath and blow, if a specific partial does not come out, don't stop, the moment is gone, keep the flow going.

    In the beginning, lipslurs are not about single notes. They are about continual contraction and relaxing of the embouchure without backing off on the air supply.


    Apr 1, 2011
    Everyone is saying great things and I just want to add that lip slurs are going to get progressively easier (with good chops) the further up the harmonic series you get. As you ascend above the staff the partials get closer until they are semi-tones. For example, starting with the lowest open note in the natural register (no pedals) you would have a low C. The next open fingering up is a G (P5: perfect fifth), then a C (P4), then E (M3), then G (m3), Bb (m3), C (M2), so on, so forth.
  7. tpsiebs

    tpsiebs Piano User

    Feb 6, 2010
    Randolph, New Jersey
    When seriously trying to develop the "knack" for lips slurs, I think that initially, the mental focus should be on the 'what' you have to do to go from note to note. It is actually a bit of a balancing act: increasing the speed of the air, tongue lift and the contraction of contributory embouchure muscles as one ascends.

    At first, changes will be uneven and notes will change "when they feel like it": you will sense the notes wanting to move but you'll "get stuck"; and then it will "pop" to the next partial.

    As the mind seeks perfection it compiles all of this and learns to coordinate these systems thus, the movement from note to note gets easier. As music is conceived "in time" and "in line", it is at this point that tempo and rhythm should be introduced to now promote the coordination of these systems in time.

    Ultimately, you will then get the notes to change when you want them to.

    It is a process.
  8. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

    Oct 5, 2010
    Getting stuck is EXACTLY what happens sometimes. I am so glad that you wrote that. At least I know this is normal and it is a lack of coordinating all the elements properly to move from note to note. I am starting to get a better picture now. Hopefully it just require hard work and more practice, which I can do.

    Getting stuck happens particularly when the metronome marking for the exercises is between 60 and 80 bpm. I have noticed that, if I take my own pace which is to naturally do them much faster, I get stuck much less. It is almost like "riding the air". My exercise book recommends the slower tempo to feel the appropriate sensations of doing slurs properly. But, going slower is SO much harder.

    Thanks to all the responses so far; they are so helpful.

  9. Chuck Cox

    Chuck Cox Forte User

    Oct 3, 2008
    Cary NC
    I'm commenting on lip slurs or what we used to call a " shake ". Major 2nd or minor 3rd intervals ( depending on starting note ). I look at it as either 4 or 5 half steps. G above stave to open C is the hardest for me because it is 5 half steps and starts off too low for me at the G. A to C# is easier for 2 reasons...only 4 half steps and starts a little higher. B to Eb is a dream slur ( 4 half steps and nice and high where intervals are easier for me to attain ). I was lip slurring in the 8th grade by cheating with a handkerchief partially blocking the bell. After a few months of that gimmick....i think my mind or lip muscles were trained to lip slur naturally. I love Louie Armstrong's extremely fast lip trills on short 1/8 or quarter notes.
  10. The Kraken

    The Kraken Piano User

    Mar 28, 2007
    Gold Coast - 805

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