Why Cat Anderson's mouthpiece worked for him.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Local 357, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    Good question, no? For those less versed in the seemingly ridiculous and small mouthpiece Cat used check here: Cat Anderson

    Its been described as being "2/3 rds smaller than the Schilke Bill Chase model 6a4a" which is pretty small all by itself.

    So the question is: How could Cat pull it off?

    I'm going to at least answer this for myself fairly soon. Through a "trick" embouchure I've been working on which seems to respond to the shallowest and smallest of pieces. I went out to my hobby lathe the other day to cut an extremely shallow m/piece but the drive belt snapped so will have to order another one soon.

    Theory: In some of the most soft, supple lip settings the ability exists to play well in excess of Double C. This kind of vibrating surface does not occur within the average person and is reflected in the distribution of extreme range production to only the fortunate few. Whereas the average Joe who plays (and perseveres) can conquer the notes up to High G for at least occasional use the ability to truly "own" the notes above, especially around DHC and above is not a reasonable expectation.

    Roy Stevens noticed this but his application to "correct" the "problem" was flawed. His book "Embouchure Self-Analysis and Triple C Technique" never discussed the varying texture of lip flesh. He couldn't see or realize that only a minority of trumpet players could switch to his forward jaw positioni
    ng and pull off the Triple C's.

    So the next question I posed myself is: does this mean that the average Joe can MODIFY his chops so as to put more of the softer, vibrant flesh within the mouthpiece and play extreme register fluently?

    I think the answer is maybe. Will check it out in a few weeks to see if my idea works. What I did was about five years ago experiment by rolling out the lower lip to the point where the mouthpiece sits on the inner gum. When doing this I can sustain excruciatingly high notes. Even above THC (triple high c not cannabis). However spot on accuracy and endurance are limited. Have so far eluded me. I've improved the past year or so but haven't quite got it under my fingers.

    And here's where I got the hypothesis: Upon wigging my chops as described I felt that the only reason I couldn't hit these notes with better control and security was because they do not respond to ordinary sized mouthpieces. And maybe the solution is a ridiculously small m/piece.

    Enter the Cat Anderson mouthpiece.

    To tell you the truth I haven't been this excited about a discovery in I don't know when. We'll just have to wait until my hobby lathe gets a new belt. So keep yer fingers crossed for me. Thanks!

    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012
    rettepnoj likes this.
  2. TPstatic

    TPstatic New Friend

    Aug 1, 2012
    Catskill Mountains NY
    Following this thread. The Cat was one of the best!
  3. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    I was a Cat fanatic back in the day when I gave a crap about the upper register. Someone once told me that you have to hear it up there to play it. I've modified that to read, 'you have to hear YOURSELF up there,' and then you're on the way. I simply don't hear myself screaming away. Physically, I believe if you work it on a large mpc, you have to practice more. My lower lip now rolls out more than it has in years due to the sound I'm getting in all registers when I do this. The more I work it, the better it works. Same for my trombone work. It seems that in your references to "wigging" and use of smaller pieces that you're looking for an easier way to get these notes to speak. More power to you.

  4. peanuts56

    peanuts56 Pianissimo User

    Jan 18, 2009
    People forget that Cat was much, much more than a high note player.He was a fine jazz player and was excellent with the plunger.I had the pleasure of hearing him live just once at the Palace Theater in Waterbury Conn around 1972-73. He was with Lionel Hampton and had several featured solos. He played into the doubles and even the triples on a few but there were others where he never went above a high c. He could flat out play!!!!
  5. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

    Mar 21, 2006
    The reason Cat's mouthpiece worked for him is because he was an excellent player.
  6. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011

    Not really. Sure he was a great player but most players either great or small can not play his m/piece. Did you see he size of it?

    Here: http://abel.hive.no/trumpet/cat_anderson/cat_mpc_800.jpg
  7. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

    Mar 21, 2006
    What I am saying is that I bet he could play just fine on any mouthpiece.
  8. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    uhmm people --- I believe shallow mpc or not --- CAT practiced like 4 hours a day, and a lot of long soft notes (both low and high) --- at least according to my sheets that I go by, if you tabulate the Long notes @ 20 minutes each, then add in the scales and stuff ((((BY THE WAY I even take out the 10, 20 and 30 minute rest in between))) -- and the guy still practiced like 3- 4 hours of LIP TIME each day.

    maybe the shallow mpc is the top secret weapon ---- maybe Cat just liked it, and used it, and ended up playing 1 MPC --- then again, maybe it is his extreme practice regimen also!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    CAT Anderson's Method book has the following entry penned by the good man himself:

    Many people ask me about the mouthpiece. Well, the mouthpiece has never played a note without your help, although a good and scientifically designed mouthpiece is very important. A mouthpiece can never substitute for ability. Once you find a comfortable mouthpiece that you like, never change. The secret of playing in the upper register is you and you only!

    If you dont believe me... here is the link TO HIS ENTIRE METHOD BOOK!

    Roddy Trumpet: Sound Clips

    Oh Yeah... you can thank me later.
  10. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011

    No doubt he was dedicated well above and beyond average. Now having said that it sure would make it a helluva lot more FUN to play if you have unlimited register such like Cat did. Far easier to put in the hours on the horn when it isn't a pain in the ass to blow a few high notes.

    I'm sort of one of those "in betweeners". Have got some natural chops. Or at least think that i do. My peers couldn't play a solid F above high C at age 15 but I was learning how to do this. I didn't have that near effortless DHC though. The reason for the definition "in-betweener".

    However almost no one uses a mouthpiece as small as Cat's was. I've met just one dude who used one and oddly he didn't even play the lead book. He was a good reading second trumpet player doing a fine, very creative job on the jazz book in a big band. Even more strange was that I could notice no discernible difference in his middle register tone compared to anyone else in the band. An "old pro" he was amazing in his "average-ness". It have been me? I'd have sounded like a kazoo! Assuming I could even get a note out of that pea shooter thang.

    The thing is that, if I'm correct: a mouthpiece like Cat's could be the missing link in my "wigged" chop setting. Somewhere I think the late brass teacher Arnold Jacobs said

    "in weakness is strength"

    In fact there is no more "weak" feeling in an embouchure than to roll the lower lip out and set the mouthpiece on its inner gum membrane. And yet this is the only setting I've ever got notes well in excess of Triple C on. I've hit these C's other ways too (on my other alternative chop setting) but not much higher than just a whole step above. Also I had trouble articulating these notes/accuracy etc.

    Yet with the "wigged" setting I once got the B flat (concert A Flat) below QUAD C. Sounds like bacon frying. And the "wig" seems more adaptable to me. I've even used it in concert now and then.

    The point isn't to blow dog whistle notes but to discover ways that the average Joe can sustain the DHC region without bending his teeth backwards and spitting lip flesh bits into his beer. Has sorta been my life's work. And even if I'm not 100% successful? Well its been a fun fun ride. Very instructive too.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2012

Share This Page