ways to get a smaller apeture?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by the trumpetguy, Mar 29, 2008.

  1. iainmcl

    iainmcl Pianissimo User

    Nov 4, 2006
    New Zealand
    Hi. I used to use waaaay to much pressure as well. It got to the point where my teeth ached and my right-hand pinky finger was starting to get a bend in it from the hook. I had to re-learn because of this.
    Chasefan has offered up some good tips there, but you might also want to look at how you hold the Trumpet itself. Are you holding it in what some call the "Death-grip"? That is, left-hand thumb behind the valves and the rest of the left-hand fingers all wrapped around the valves. It's a bit uncomfortable at first, but try 2 fingers above the 3rd valve slide and 2 below. You'll have to alternate back and forth for a while until your fingers get used to the stretch, but it's definitely worth trying.
    This will alter the balance of both you and the way you hold the horn. It will give it a more 'up-down' feel, rather than 'fowards-backwards'.
    It's hard to explain without showing you, but it'll definitely help (assuming that you even hold it in the "death-grip" in the first place.
    Best of luck
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    the easiest way is to get a decent teacher. IF you have one AND you really listen to what they say, you have a daily routine that builds and maintains your chops. That building process takes a year or two if you want significant range, but once you are there, it is less difficult to maintain.

    The reason you use too much pressure is because you are not using enough brains. An intelligent daily routine is about 45 minutes of buzzing, long tones, slurs, tunes and technical studies. The rest of your practice time is there to develop new skills and learn new tunes. Daily means exactly that, routine too - the SAME THING EVERY DAY. There is no substitute.

    Some make the mistake of calling this a "warmup". It is not that. It is a steady, predictable diet of exercizes that are good for you. A good teacher puts the ingredients in an intelligent order and will add or remove occasionally something to match what you have learned. My routine is 30 years old. I may have missed 20-30 days total (sickness, honeymoon) during that time.

    If you practice and play SMART, you will see your development. There is no cheat that can be downloaded for instant low pressure playing. The muscle/brain coordination needs time to develop. Pressure short circuits your development. Now you have a BAD habit to unlearn before you ca LEARN the new one.

    This also applies to aperature by the way...............................
  3. GordonH

    GordonH Mezzo Forte User

    May 15, 2005
    I had this problem. My embouchre had spread out over a period of years and I was using more pressure so I went to see the principal trumpet of one of our national orchestras who also teaches at the Royal Scottish Academy.

    Here is what he suggested to me as a way of retraining my lip:

    1. Play quietly all the time when you are practicing because all we are doing whne we play loudly is the same trhing but more of it, playing with control quietly.

    2. Do the pencil exercise for a few minutes a day, including the reverse of the pencil exercise so you are exercising the muscles in both directions.

    3. Concentrate on Schlossberg studies and similar exercises, played quietly.

    At the same time I moved to an embouchre where my lips were in the classic "spitting a hair out" position which in my case is just my mouth normally closed but my jaw fairly loose.

    It took three months of sounding like a beginner to get my range and sound back, but the result has been almost unlimited endurance; I no longer get marks on my lips after playing; my pitch centre has been raised (meaning I have more room for adjusting via tuning slide) and is more stable; I can hit notes more cleanly on entrances.

    In all, it was a very useful exercise, but I would recommend seeing someone who knows about these problems. I was lucky because my teacher sees a lot of kids coming up to the academy who have the same problem and he was able to give me the confidence that it was fixable.

    I also had the ability to take three months off playing to make the changes.
  4. ChaseFan

    ChaseFan Banned

    Mar 25, 2008
    I'm glad you mentioned grip.

    A couple of years ago I also altered my grip in order to accomodate minimum pressure.

    My left palm no longer touches the valve casing to any significant degree.
    I don't hold the trumpet with fingertips, which would be too extreme and impractical, but I do restrict most of the grip to the fingers inside the knuckles.
    If my palm does touch the valve casing, it is merely a light brush against it.
    It really helped when I stopped trying to BLAST the high notes (such as F above High C) and settled on playing high notes medium loudness, because the amount of mouthpiece pressure I was using was directly proportional to how loud I was trying to play.
    Then I discovered that what I thought was "medium" loud could still be heard by people a block away from my house, so apparently it is louder on the other end of the trumpet :D

    BTW, different embouchure types play better with different grips.
    The grip that Maynard Ferguson used in the 1970's with just the index finger above the 3rd slide seems to work well for some such downstream types.
    I am upstream (airstream inside the cup is projected upward) and I find that most of my fingers above the 3rd slide works best.
    Apparently the type of grip you use slightly affects the tilt of the trumpet, and different embouchures need different tilt, especially in the upper register.

  5. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    My tutor put me onto this little "technique" to, and if I have read the posts correctly, the 'grip' shown on Iainmcl's avatar show what is being described for the left hand. I was very used to fingers all around the valves and the switch caused many MONTHS of acute pain in the base of my fingers - I wonder if the pain stopped me being able to force the trumpet onto my face? Let me suggest that you get your pinky OUT of that hook too, among other things it restricts the capacity for you to lift your third valve finger quickly. All that being said, I really think that the most benefit for me has been gained by following the intent of the discussion in David Monettes mouthpiece acclimation (sic) (yes mouthpiece - I know, it doesn't make sense) on the attached website. Good luck.
    David G. Monette Corporation
  6. Ljazztrm

    Ljazztrm Piano User

    Nov 15, 2003
    Queens, NY
    How are you with the pencil exercise? Can you hold a full length pencil out for 4 minutes as Pops suggests? If so, it's time to switch to a trumpet mouthpiece. Yes, that's right. Take the shank end of the mouthpiece and use it like the pencil. I highly recommend only doing this exercise ONCE a week for one time only (do it once, but for as long as you can...I'm close to a minute now). I do it on Mondays, as it's my lightest playing day usually. If you do this very strenous exercise more than once a week, your chops will probably 'crash and burn'...assuming you do a lot of playing everyday. Good luck man! All the best, Lex.
  7. TopGun

    TopGun Pianissimo User

    Oct 28, 2003
    Nice comments Chasefan.
  8. GordonH

    GordonH Mezzo Forte User

    May 15, 2005
    I just had a vision of lips like a bodybuilder's arms.

    I take it you don't play Monette STC3 mouthpieces?
  9. Ljazztrm

    Ljazztrm Piano User

    Nov 15, 2003
    Queens, NY
    Hey Gordon, what's an STC3? I know a lot about mouthpieces, but don't have too much experience with the Monette line. I've owned the B7F before and the new Alan Wise piece...both were great pieces.

    Yeah, you actually will notice a subtle change in your appearance as your facial muscles get really strong. These are small muscles, so it's not like you will have a 'bulging face'...lol...but they do get somewhat bigger I think. All the best, Lex.
  10. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

    Feb 20, 2008
    On the pencil exercise - and I have read some that support it and some say no - but anyway to the exercise itself, when I do this, my lower jaw comes forward. This is not to get my teeth under the pencil, but a consequence of the compression of the muscles/trying to lift the pencil to a full horizontal (I am not supporting the pencil with my teeth) and trying to keep my jaw open. It puts my lower front teeth in front of my upper teeth. If I clamp my jaw closed, then I can do then compress my lips together to lift the pencil . . .

    Just viewed this video: YouTube - The Pencil Exercise for trumpet players it would appear that Eric Bolvin's jaw comes forward some too - so that might be normal. Or not, but it's certainly not the position of the jaw when playing.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2008

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