All posts by roddytrumpet

A Most Important Article

High C — DHC

 

Okay…

 

probably the most important article I’ve ever written….

 

here goes…

 

there are many ways to play…

 

there are many combinations of aperture / tension /

compression / jaw etc

 

and so…

 

its too complicated to isolate one item from another and try to aportion percentages of personal use so one can ‘identify’ a particular embouchure method’ [farkas / callet / stevens etc ]…

 

however…

 

many many many players use waaaaaaaaaay too much lip to lip compression [which of course works to a degree] in making any given pitch change…

 

So……

 

STIFFNESS AND LIP TO LIP COMPRESSION [LLC]

 

For every note there’s a minimal and a maximal LIP to LIP compression setting for the lips…

 

Meaning…

 

if the compression between the top and the bottom lip is too much, the note will flip up to the next harmonic / slot / note up….

 

some use this as an actual method of slurring up, often exascerbated by the ee—aww =or= tuu—eee syllable method of pitch change [bad]

 

as you hopefully know by now our method of increased internal air support thru a ‘fixed’ aperture [range comes in chunks]works more efficiently…

 

yes there’s also lip tension within the flesh which affects this…but

…I don’t want to get into that here

 

if the compression between the top and the bottom lip is too little the note will slip / fall down to the next harmonic / slot / note down….

 

yes there’s also jaw opening / closing / teeth position which affects this…I don’t want to get into that here…

 

LIP TO LIP COMPRESSION – TOP LIP TO BOTTOM LIP

 

as always…there are gradations of such compression [fingers to thumb analogy]….and…for our purposes here I am going to use a number system to help you understand my thinking…

 

Example….

 

The note mid C…

 

when bang in the center of tuning its possible to play this note with lips compressed into a tightness between 5—to 7/10 before the tuning gets sharp , the compression becomes too much, and the note will slip up to an ‘E’ the next open fingered note up from Mid C…

 

so remember —between 5…increase lip to lip compression—7

 

Conversely…

 

when bang in the center of tuning its possible to play this note with lips compressed into a tightness between 5—down to to 3/10 before the tuning gets flat , the compression becomes too little, and the note will slip down to an ‘G’ the next open fingered note down from Mid C…

 

so remember—between 5 decrease lip to lip compression —–3

 

How can one tell when there’s too much compression on any given note?

 

The thing is…on any given note at approx mp – mf dynamic…if the tone is pure with an open / resonant softish sound – you pretty much have lip to compression right or averagely applied…

 

PLAY AS IF PLAYING THE FLUGELHORN…

 

PLAY LIKE A FLUTE…

 

if the tone is impure by ANY amount with a tightish sound that maybe is a little hard / harsh in timbre – you probably have too much compression applied…

 

 

why does this matter to stiffness?

 

if you continually play / practice endurance exercises with a compression that is too much—- lets say at 7…especially if you are using it to help a pitch change upwards >

 

now don’t forget – the note at 7 compression won’t change tuning / it won’t be too hard / harsh *but it isn’t as easy on the lips / chops as it could be*

 

< then tension / stiffness builds up and eventually stops some of the higher vibrations at the highest part of your current range from happening…

 

do this over a long period of time and of course disaster happens.

 

but Rod…surely if I’m getting a decent tone and doing okay range wise that’s also fine isn’t it?

 

well…if you find that progress is a little slow and band isn’t as always as good / resonant as it might be as increased dynamic makes the hidden stiffness come to the fore I believe this LLC is something that maybe needs to be looked into…

 

if you find thru experimentation that when you want to make a pitch change (say from an E top space on the stave to a G on top of the stave) and you use extra compression to make it happen – you can assume that you aren’t using the best method of increased internal air pressure with a close enough lip set point / pure tone to make your pitch changes.

 

IMPORTANT POINTS.

 

too much un-needed compression eventually overtime leads to:

 

1. a really secure feeling chop set that nonetheless is too stiff at the top to vibrate easily

 

2. stiffness coming to the fore especially when the dynamic is increased or extra on face time is encountered.

 

3. you tend to ‘lip’ your pitch changes upwards instead of ‘riding’ the airstream up…

 

some things that lead to players using excess lip to lip compression…

 

1. rushing between attempts

 

2. not allowing the proper blood flow of proper rests to return the lip back to a state of readiness for another attempt.

 

3. I played that line yesterday I must either improve on it or at the very least achieve the same. [trying to avoid see-saw]

 

4. not quitting early enough

Hopefully…some of this helps….

 

 

How should the lips feel ?

how SHOULD it feel lip wise when:

1. things are really really strong

2. so successful that you cant miss

3. you can belt out at high volume – FF

4. you can play ‘pp’ easily

  1. flexibility is great

6. high [and low] range is very very easy. how SHOULD it feel lip wise ? it shouldn’t feel like anything….

extremes are only parameters which you are either strong enough to cope with or you fail… heres some myths..

MYTH–the donut of surrounding support muscles feels pumped up this is simply not true – what ACTUALLY happens…is that…when you’re really strong and the former practices have built up the donut of support muscle…

it lies dormant / even inactivated – until its needed by an ‘extreme’—then…when the donut IS activated…how does it feel?… it feels like nothing…yep…nothing….it feels normal so..how do you know ‘its’ there…? well…

the easy soft center lip feel remains soft and even sort of flabby WITHIN the rim =BUT= outside the rim…on the white flesh OUTSIDE the outer rim feels as though you can hold that flappy lip shape INSIDE the rim continually… in fact you can hear my clip where I play a hundred high d’s tongued, then a double g to finish…

I could have played more [lip wise]…but…oxygen / carb-diox levels/balance matter…

anyways… HERES ANOTHER MYTH —

MYTH–the lips FEEL STRONG and secure in the mpc. this is simply not true – what ACTUALLY happens…is that…when youre really strong and the former practices have built up the donut of support muscle OUTSIDE —

INSIDE THE RIM… the lips feel all flappy flabby… they dont feel stiff / strong in any way… =IF= you feel strong in the lips WITHIN the mpc rim…

its likely you are stiff…which…feels secure…BUT….doesn’t bode well for performance in the high register… this feeling actually feels and sounds good in the lower and medium registers… BUT= high playing requires soft center to be able to vibrate easily…

also…

if you are too stiff WITHIN the rim…loud playing or excessive on face time [brass band] will make the stiff lips pump up with lactic acid in a reaction…thereby shutting off vibrations too soon…

I HAVE MANY SOUND EXAMPLES OF FAMOUS PLAYERS WHO ARE IN THIS TROUBLESOME SITUATION AT A PERFORMANCE…

How should it all feel when not playing…should it feel beefy / full / pumped no…. it just feels normal… like you’ve never played trumpet in your life….

 

Book 4 Introduction

Copy of Final3SW

Over the last 20 yrs I have taught approx 1500+ players: (PRO / SEMI PRO / AMATEURS)

Of that 1500 + the following applies…

¨         75% OF PLAYERS WITH A TOO OPEN APERTURE SIZE USE VARIOUS TRICKS TO TRY TO COMPENSATE, HOWEVER THEY ARE MOSTLY UNAWARE OF THEIR CURRENT STATUS.

 

¨         15% OF PLAYERS PLAY WITH A TOO CLOSED APERTURE SIZE USE VARIOUS TRICKS TO TRY TO COMPENSATE, HOWEVER THEY ARE MOSTLY UNAWARE OF THEIR CURRENT STATUS.

 

¨         5% OF PLAYERS PLAY WITH AN EFFICIENT APERTURE SIZE, BUT HAVE OTHER PROBLEMS.

 

¨         FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE VARYING DEGREES OF EFFECTIVENESS ARE APPARENT…BUT….NOT NECESSARILY EFFICIENCY! [many pro’s included]

 

¨         ANOTHER 5% OF PLAYERS PLAY WITH AN EFFICIENT APERTURE SIZE, HAVE MUCH LESS PROBLEMS AND ARE CALLED ‘GENIUS,’TALENTED’ OR’ NATURAL’ PLAYERS.

 

TRUMPET PLAYERS ALSO ARGUE ABOUT THE EFFICACY OR VALUE OF VARIOUS METHODS AND TECHNIQUES.

 

“ Most of us believe everyone has a right to his own opinion – as long as it agrees with ours ” — Andy Rooney

 

THIS IS BECAUSE USUALLY THEY HAVE DIFFERENT [aperture] START POINTS WHICH GIVE THEM CERTAIN CHARACTERSITICS AS DETAILED IN MY BOOK 1.. AND..WHATSMORE?..THESE GUYS DON’T EVEN REALISE IT..! [unconscious incompetent]

 

SOME GUYS ARE TOO OPEN AS AN APERTURE START POINT DUE TO BAD HABITS.

 

SOME GUYS ARE TOO CLOSED AS AN APERTURE START POINT DUE TO BAD HABITS.

 

THIS MAKES THE INFORMATION IN ANY OF THE USUAL WELL KNOWN CHOP BOOKS OF THE PAST SEEM CONFLICTING BETWEEN THESE ABOVE GROUPS EVEN THOUGH ITS NOT. HENCE THE HEATED DEBATES OF THE INTERNET BRASS FORUMS.

 

THESE GUYS ARE IN EFFECT EXPERIENCING DIFFERENT RESULTS (good /bad) FROM THE SAME METHOD BECAUSE THEIR APERTURE START POINT IS DIFFERENT WITHOUT THEM EVEN REALSING IT.

 

MANY PROS HAVE THESE PROBLEMS – THEY MAY BE EFFECTIVE BUT NOT EFFICIENT!

ALL PLAYERS/SKILL LEVELS ARE LOOKING DOWN THE SAME ROAD BUT AT OPPOSITE ENDS OF THE “APERTURE SPECTRUM”. HEY PRESTO! – THE UNIFIED FIELD THEORY FOR TRUMPET! (TTOE) – HAHAHA! …THE ARROWS BELOW REPRESENT DIFFERENT DEGREES OF TOO OPEN / TOO CLOSED AN APERTURE:

 

 

TOO OPEN AP > > > > > > utOpia < < < < < < TOO CLOSED AP

 

ALL ‘CUPPED- MOUTHPIECE BRASS PLAYER’S OF THE WORLD, CAN BE PUT INTO ONE OF THREE APERTURE TYPES:

 

  1. TOO OPEN AN APERTURE TO BE TOTALLY EFFICIENT
  2. EFFICIENT..
  3. TOO CLOSED AN APERTURE TO BE TOTALLY EFFCIENT

 

THREE STEP ADVICE

 

Your first vital step = have an open mind!

Your first step is to understand that stunning performances are down to the quality of a musicians physical and mental preparation, not the quantity of practice.

 

Many of the people I see in lessons or that email me have VERY fixed ideas [mental baggage] about their practice. Not only are they wasting many hours on unnecessary or unproductive daily exercise routines that only go to reinforce the underlying bad habits they frequently don’t know that are there, but they are completely out of touch with good techniques. This is what holds them back. You name it! – strength, power and range exercises, endurance, and even warming up, they happily cling to their old-fashioned unproductive methods.

 

Your second step = drop those repetitive daily training routines!

All around I see musicians stuck on long, repetitive workouts and routines which are, frankly, never likely to lift performance significantly. For whatever reason, these people may fall way behind where they could be. Many teachers only teach ONE way [bad]..and..don’t have ANY clue about aperture, their own OR their students.. and… how it might effect themselves or others.

 

It must be said that GOOD PROS, who are often aware of MORE successful techniques sometimes keep the information for themselves. Clearly, ‘spreading the word’ about the latest breakthroughs to all and sundry may put them at a disadvantage. Also, some good pros think that the way THEY did it is the way for everyone. [nonsense].

 

Your third step = lift your practice to current ‘best practice’ standards.

So many musicians in an effort to make more progress merely increase the amount of practice undertaken. This is sometimes good for small endurance gains, but if done using the same ‘old bad habit set up’ they used previously, then REAL progress ain’t gonna happen. In fact increased practice time for some, means they actually get worse as the bad habits become MORE reinforced. For example: playing short length range exercises which are all of a similar interval / articulation regime, will not enable you to increase your range long term and finish a long piece on a high Z. All this conditions you for is to play short length range exercises with the same intervals / articulation. REAL MUSIC IS’NT LIKE THIS.

 

REAL MUSIC HAS VARIED ARTICULATION / INTERVALS,

REAL MUSIC HAS VARIED DYNAMICS

REAL MUSIC HAS ALL OF THE ABOVE AT ONCE.

 

EMBOUCHURE ENHANCEMENT materials are designed to help YOU accurately identify and correct existing foundational problems which then enable forward progress. Most other method books only suggest a way forward that worked for the author without giving you the opportunity to correct foundational problems, this often results in little / no / detrimental / progress even though there may be nothing wrong with the book. Regardless of the authors best intentions you will again be reinforcing your old bad habits. It is very rare that the book will do the foundational correction for you as you go along. Knowing/understanding a problem really is ½ way to solving.

EMBOUCHURE ENHANCEMENT materials will help you do all this.

REAL PROGRESS CAN ONLY HAPPEN AND BECOME LASTING IF THE BAD HABITS WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT EVEN BE REALISED CAN BECOME REPLACED WITH GOOD HABITS OVER TIME.

IMMEDIATE PHYSICAL CHANGE VERY RARELY WORKS, OR IS ONLY TRANSIENT BECAUSE IMMEDIATE PHYSICAL CHANGE DOES NOT ALLOW FOR THE SUPPORT MUSCLES TO GROW / BECOME CO-ORDINATED ALONG WITH THE NEW TECHNIQUE AS WOULD BE THE CASE OVER A LONGER PERIOD.

 

SO…

 

  • BAD HABITS CAN BE SO HIDDEN THAT THE OWNER DOESN’T EVEN REALISE THEY HAVE THEM.

 

  • PLAYERS MAY EVEN BE EFFECTIVE WITH THEIR BAD HABITS—BUT—THEY WILL NOT BE AS EFFICIENT AS THEY MIGHT BE. [this includes pro’s]

 

  • BAD HABITS WHEN REMOVED, MAY RESULT IN IMMEDIATE FORWARD PROGRESS/STAGNATION/REVERSAL OF FORTUNES. BAD HABITS ARE USUALLY THE MAINSTAY OF MANY PLAYERS CURRENT TECHNIQUES.

 

  • MANY PLAYERS MAKE THE MISTAKE OF THINKING THAT A REMOVAL OF BAD HABIT(S) MEANS A TOTAL CURE IS IMMEDIATELTY EFFECTIVE, WHICH GIVES THEM THE FREEDOM TO ABUSE A NEW SYSTEM BEFORE THE GOOD HABITS ARE LOCKED INTO PLACE AS A SOLID FOUNDATION.

 

  • REPLACING BAD HABITS WITH GOOD ONES TAKES TIME, AND WHILST IN TRANSITION, THE PLAYER NEEDS TO HAVE A HIGH LEVEL OF CONCENTRATION WHENEVER THE INSTRUMENT IS OUT OF THE CASE TO ENABLE THE AVOIDANCE THAT BAD HABITS MIGHT CREEP BACK IN.

 

“Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables!” – Spanish proverb.

 

How to get your High C, Super Strong !

Many players are using too much lip to lip compression- lip to lip closeness to play high C
 
meaning your chops [face] are not strong enough
to use less lip to lip compression thereby keeping the lips open enough 
to expose red lip flesh to allow for easy vibration to use as an endurance cushion (donut) and allow higher notes to vibrate..
 
how does one avoid ‘over use’ of lip to lip compression on any high note? 
 
practice endurance of lower notes than the point of your excess..
 
so…if…
 
your high c has too much compression – become exceptional at playing ad nauseum between mid ‘c’ / ‘g’ on top of stave / and ‘a’ above the stave…
 
then—as a by product—- high b and c will be easy…
 
you probably don’t have a problem
 
its just your brain wants to write cheques your chops cannot cash
 
YOU AIN’T STRONG ENOUGH ON LOWER NOTES!!!  ;-) 
I see this all the time.. 
its only when players stand next to me playing
do they realise how un-strong WEAK (endurance) they are ON THE STAVE
 
playing thru an arban study is EASY…
if its not EASY for you..
 
YOU ARE NOT STRONG ENOUGH !
 
the attached melody should be SIMPLE…if you cant get to the end easily…you are not strong enough!!
 
see pencil exercise pic—I can hold it like this for 4 mins….can you?
 
regards . .Roddy o-iii<O
pencil_ex
cich_16

Stiffness / Compression / Chop Strength

Stiffness….
 
it feels like this…
 
youre playing something at mid to high range with a good tone and all is well
 
but the moment you go to go to the higher range the notes just wont respond right?
 
the lips close down / tight / shut
 
frustrating right?
 
stiffness!!—you hate it right?…no range—grrrr!!
 
but..
 
what if its this…
 
youre playing something at mid to high range with a good tone and all is well
so..that means..your lips are being kept open by your jaw  / facial muscles and it all feels solid and responds..
 
but the moment you go to go to the higher range the notes just wont respond.
darn it – your lips moved closer together [compression – lip to lip] under the greater workload / mpc pressure —past the point of easy vibration.
 
the lips close down / tight / shut
not as a result of stiffness —although it may feel like it—but—as a result of your chops not being strong enough to keep the lips in the optimum close/open aperture utopia position for the notes to come out easily.
 
CLOSE not CLOSED.
 
You think your stiff…cutting off range
 
but…
 
You’re actually weak CHOP wise…
 
not able to sustain the close / open aperture balance [utopia] between the lips allowing JUST ENOUGH lip to lip compression to keep the lips vibrating at a higher frequency
 
players often say to me…my chops closed down and felt stiff not allowing the high notes out
 
but
 
if you were ACTUALLY stiff…you’d find a lack of flexibility well into the mid register…and…many don’t find this…
 
they say..my chops closed down and felt stiff not allowing the high notes out
 
what if they are simply not strong enough to keep the chops open enough at a given range
 
these types of players above come to see me for a live lesson…and…I tell them all is well…they don’t have a problem…
 
all they have to do is work smart and build..quit early..keep a decent tone at a mp dynamic..
 
but
 
life gets in the way of real solid regular practice…which
 
would avoid excess compression in place of REAL chop strength
 
when one builds strength like this…the red lip flesh doesn’t disappear inwards under crushing compression for lack of chop strength
ROD CLOSE UP 2013
 
don’t forget
 
the red bit vibrates
 
if its curled in
 
it won’t…
 

“E M B O U C H U R E ____E N H A N C E M E N T”
[Self Analysis / Diagnostic Methods for Brass Instruments]
www.lulu.com/spotlight/roddytpt

pics / sounds… www.bandmix.co.uk/roddytrumpet_cc/