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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Tongue level for high notes in the General forums; Learning to use the tongue was a hard-fought battle over a couple of years. I just did not “get-it”. I ...
  1. #51
    Piano User BrotherBACH's Avatar
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    Oct 2010

    Re: Tongue level for high notes

    Learning to use the tongue was a hard-fought battle over a couple of years. I just did not “get-it”. I read, studied, research, and analyzed everything I could possible get my hands on. I watched every possible video. Vowels, silent whistle, breath push, breath kick….nothing, I just hit a wall.

    Then, I played Chase’s Lip Flexibility on the piano and sang it over and over again until I had it memorized in tune and in time. I would then close my eyes, sing the exercise, then immediately play it without “thinking” about what the tongue was supposed to do. That is when it all came together. Playing from the musical mind will coordinate your tongue, embouchure, and air like vocal cords for a singer. It took years to stop fighting the trumpet physically and play it musically. This recently hit home when I was asked to play a natural C trumpet for a special occasion with little practice. All I had was the music in my head and my brain controlled my tongue like vocal chords singing music, and it all came off well.

    Many recommendations will come for method books and exercises. My teacher would say all these method books and exercises are nothing special. The critical ingredient is the “approach” to the exercises, which is why a teacher is so important. I will add that with all this working well now, my teacher noticed that I was having difficulty playing phrases above the stave. He noticed that I was muscling through using “air power” and it was not working. He suggested playing as soft as possible to learn how to be more efficient at focusing my air. The difference is night and day: my control and range have taken a huge leap forward. But, it all starts with singing through the piece first and focusing on the rhythm.

    (Mouthpiece-shmouthpiece). My teacher also switched me from a Bach 3c to 1 1/2c and the gains continue to come. I mentioned that a mouthpiece switch is supposed screw-up your embouchure. He replied that is because you did not focus on the mouthpiece or embouchure; just playing music.

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    There is so much good in the worst of us,
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  2. #52
    Mezzo Piano User
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    London UK

    Re: Tongue level for high notes

    Quote Originally Posted by cfkid View Post
    Claude Gordon and his students really emphasize that the tongue controls the pitch. That being said, my teacher does not try to get me to "think" about tongue level. We do use k-tongue modified, where the tip of the tongue always stays on the bottom teeth. Claude had a saying, and stamp for each page of study that said 'watch the tongue.' As it is explained to me, that means that you need to be aware that the tongue arches, but not attempt to set it for every note.

    Instead we work on many flexibility studies to get the feel for using the tongue to change the pitch. You may want to read Claude's book 'Brass playing is no harder than deep breathing.' He covers a lot of his thoughts on tongue level there.

    I know Claude's ideas aren't for everyone, but they are working for me.

    Just as a comment really, but I read 'Brass playing is no harder than deep breathing' and whilst I found much of it fine as far as concepts are concerned, it didn't seem to give me many clues as to how to convert those ideas into technique. I might simply have interpreted it poorly, but it was a bit too Zen like to be of great help.
    Is it true that cannibals won't eat clowns because they taste funny?

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