What to practice after the dreaded embouchure change

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Joefer, Dec 12, 2007.

  1. Joefer

    Joefer New Friend

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    Feb 19, 2007
    Lubbock, TX
    Hi Tom,

    I read one of your posts a long time ago about Ghitalla having you do an embouchure change when you started your masters. You said that he told you to play only between c in the staff and high c for the first part of it.
    What were you able to practice to keep from going crazy in the practice room? And at what stage do you allow a student to start dragging that high set downward?

    thanks,

    Joe
     
  2. thomashooten

    thomashooten Pianissimo User

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    Feb 21, 2005
    Atlanta
    Hi,

    Well, I think I did go crazy for a little while. :bash: hahaha!! Its a tough road to go down. I wanted to find a balance between a good efficient setup, and something that didn't feel completely uncomfortable. However, all of us that have done this know that it does feel really uncomfortable at first.
    I think you can start to play a little lower when that higher setup feels more stable-when you stop unconsciously doing that old setup.
    One of the biggest and fastest changes I saw was done by Brian Brown. (used to play in Dallas Sym)
    When Brian first did his change, he played 10 minutes an hour all day. This way, he wasn't getting too frustrated or too tired. In about 2 months, he was playing well enough to be competitive in auditions.
    Maybe Brian can post something about his change on here?

    Thanks for the post,
    Tom
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2007
  3. TPT81

    TPT81 New Friend

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    Apr 17, 2006
    Just wanted to second what Tom said about the embouchure change, as I did my embouchure change with Ghitalla the year after Tom did his. It's important to do several small sets a day. This helps both physical and mental challenges that come with the new set up. Playing on a new set up means playing on new muscles. If you try and practice when you're too tired, you may end up with some bad habits. The change can be frustrating, so small sets will help you keep mentally healthy.

    Tom may be able to correct this, but Brian Brown's diligence (sp?) made him ready to win a job with Florida West Coast within a few months of the change. Also, Ghitalla made me come in a few times a week to check up on how I was doing. Close monitoring is important until the new set becomes more comfortable.

    Sorry to kind of hijack your post, Tom. Hope you don't mind me seconding what you had said.

    By the way, to anyone who reads this, today is the 6 year anniversary of Armando Ghitalla passing away. So, if you are like me, have Italian food for dinner, drink a nice bottle of wine, and remember a great person and a great musician.

    Zeb
     
  4. thomashooten

    thomashooten Pianissimo User

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    Feb 21, 2005
    Atlanta
    Zeb, (aka Jeb)

    Thanks for the post. I can't believe its been 6 years. Ghitalla was a great man, and I think about him often.

    Thanks
    Tom
     
  5. TPT81

    TPT81 New Friend

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    Apr 17, 2006
    Tom-

    Ha. No one has called me Jeb in a while. Thanks for sharing that with the whole trumpet world, as if it wasn't enough to get it from all of you guys who were in the studio those years.

    Cute...real cute

    Jeb...I mean Zeb
     
  6. trptcop

    trptcop New Friend

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    Dec 16, 2007
    Colorado
    Tom,

    Thanks for mentioning my embouchure change. It took me about six months from the day I started the switch until I won an audition for Fla. West Coast Sym. I remember Ghitalla saying it was one of the fastest changes he had seen but it felt like an eternity for me. Anyway, I will explain what I did and will be glad to share more via pm if anyone is interested.

    Ghitalla had me pick a date to do the emb change, and we chose the day after the Trumpet studio recital at Rice. A month prior to this he had me play a few sessions every other day for about 10 minutes on the new emb. I got to the point right around the recital that the new emb felt comfortable, but I couldn't do much and the old emb felt like crap. It made for a 'fun' recital. Once I went 'cold turkey' on the new emb, I took it slow. I was able to practice 10 mins on the hour of every hour I was awake.(I'm sure I missed a few. :-))

    Ghitalla had me roll in my chops as if saying "mmmm", then while leaving the mpc set I would inhale through my nose and buzz. The natural lip-tension enabled a higher partial to come out easier. I did long tones with air attacks starting on second line G for about a week. I met with Ghitalla every day; often multiple times. We experimented with the right placement for the mpc and he had me do some pitch bends.

    My goal was efficiency and getting the notes to speak with an air attack. I worked upward and did not play a low C for about a month. Lip flexibilities came easy and I struggled with stepwise movement (Clarke studies) although I dont know why. I played alot of Clarke, Bai Lin lip flexibilities, and Concone lyrical etudes- I actually played a Concone for a master class after about a month, like number 3 I recall. It was all dotted half notes and was humbling.

    My advice to you is don't push it- let your chops tell you what should be next. If you feel that the low register is responding, then use some Clarkes or come up with some step-wise or chromatic exercises to work down there while keeping a good and consistent set up: don't allow your emb to fall apart while descending. Practice with a mirror to observe the new emb and try to minimize movement, as it can lead to other bad habits. If you don't yet keep a journal of what you are doing, then start now- it was a way for Ghitalla and I to go back after a week, or month and re-work my routine based on what I was having success with or not.

    I hope this helps. If anyone needs more info on what Ghitalla had me do, I still have the journals and could write out some sample routines for anyone struggling with an emb change. Every experience is different and what works for one will not work for all. If I had not done the emb change with a master teacher like Ghitalla, I never would have had the success I had. Good Luck! Brian B
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2007
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  7. thomashooten

    thomashooten Pianissimo User

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    Feb 21, 2005
    Atlanta
    Brian,

    Thanks for the great post.
    I'm sure that will help people in whatever stage they are in with a face change.
    Thanks again!!

    Tom
     
  8. confuoco

    confuoco Pianissimo User

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    Nov 11, 2007
    Thank you trptcop. Great info! Are you a "cop" now?
     
  9. trptcop

    trptcop New Friend

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    Dec 16, 2007
    Colorado
    Yup! I am a police officer for the city of Ft. Collins which is about an hour north of Denver.
    The short story is I did not get tenure in Dallas and decided to change careers. I was a Dallas police officer for a couple of years before getting this job.
    I still play everyday ,(after taking some time off), and I sub on a regular basis with the Colorado Symphony. Its a nice balance, I get to take bad guys to jail and then play great music too.:cool:
    I might throw my hat in the circus ring for the next Principal Trpt audition whenever it happens in Denver. It will be beneficial to just work up an audition list whether I go or not. Take care. BB
     
  10. trptcop

    trptcop New Friend

    5
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    Dec 16, 2007
    Colorado
    I just wanted to say that I appreciate all of the PMs' I have been receiving regarding this emb. change thread.
    I just wanted to briefly explain the emb. change vs. emb. adjustment.
    I played in the red of my top lip until I was about 30 years old. I had a very good sound and could play high and had no problems with pic. I did the emb. change because Ghitalla took me through some of his function 'tests' that he had all his incoming students perform to see where we were at and to set up our routines etc.
    I had extreme difficulties with lip flexibilities and once I started working on all of the material, I had frequent bruising to my top lip.
    If you change how your chops fundamentally work,i.e. unrolling to play in the red to rolling in to play on the white, this would be classified as an emb. change.
    If you have essentially the same set up but are moving the mouthpiece up, or over but the function is the same, this would be an emb. adjustment.
    One is no more frustrating or less traumatic to the player than the other, just different in approach.
    Some players like to refer any movement of mouthpiece or anything different to the chops as an emb. change.
    As I am getting these messages and speaking with people it really helps to know exactly what is trying to be accomplished. As Tom will tell you it is difficult to help with these without seeing and hearing the player. I have a few people coming out to play for me so we can properly diagnose the issues and I can show them hands on what Ghitalla was after.
    Again, what Ghitalla had me and a few others I know ,worked very well as long as you can be patient. It is frustrating,but Ghitalla believed that the muscles of the emb. with regards to trumpet playing, were designed to function a certain way. I believe this can be accomplished unless there is a severe injury going on.
    I have not done an adjustment, however, after taking some time off of the horn I had to 'reset' what felt comfortable with the placement of the mouthpiece. I used a mirror and focused on how it looked.
    This is all muscle memory. The purpose of practice is to train your face to subconciously know where to place notes that you hear in your head. Any routine needs to be done consistently with realistic goals.
    I hope this helped and I will continue to look forward to the PMs. Thanks, Brian B
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2007
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