Thermal imaging and spectrum analysis study of trumpet players

For about 100 years we have known that tension at the side of the face (cheek area) inhibits tone production, lessens endurance and impedes range. Using this part of the face creates a “Smile” but sadly most people still do this to some extent when they play. Most never even know it. Many famous teachers have written about it but people keep doing it.I myself have been trying to educate people about this for 40+ years. (I’ve been writing books about this for 20 years.) I decided that showing the muscles used by players that struggle and showing the muscles used by players with range to spare might help. I thought that the best way to show this was to do a Thermal Video Study of players while they were playing. This has never been done before. Nobody ever did thermal images while someone was playing and the video aspect […]

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3D look at the trumpet embouchure

First let’s see how some people think of embouchure. 1-D Some people think of a trumpet embouchure in 1 dimension. That is they think only about how long is the aperture or buzz. Yes this does affect what note is being playing but it is only a small part of the aperture. (1 front view of aperture length) (2 front view of aperture length) How long is the aperture? ie are you playing a low note or a high note. People who think this way tend to only rely on mouth-corner tension to play higher notes. Lip to lip compression has no place here. Every octave higher that we play; the size of the aperture is cut in half. Double Pedal C = 64 inches, Pedal C = 32 inches, Low C = 16 inches, Middle C = 8 inches, High C = 4 inches, Double High C = 2 […]

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The embouchure controls the pitch

  The embouchure controls the pitch and to some degree the quality of your sound Regardless of the embouchure you use these things MUST always happen. The lips must be moist. The surface tension of the water aids in setting up the vibrations. The lips must be touching. (If the air has nothing to fight there is NO buzz.) Use as Little pressure as possible. Pressure only separates the lips and stops the sound. Backing off the pressure will allow you to soar. Everyone says Tighten up to play high. Hold something between your finger and thumb. That squeeze is what they are talking about. Playing high involves slightly pushing your lips together as you ascend.   Farkas 75-80% of all players use this embouchure. This embouchure is described FULLY in “The Art of Brass Playing” by Phillip Farkas. He told people to blow as if they were trying to […]

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Why is there air in my sound?

This is THE easiest question to answer. No gray areas with this one. Sound IS vibrations. Air in the sound IS caused from too big an aperture for the note/volume we are playing. What happens is that some of the air gets through the hole without touching any lip tissue and doesn’t get put into vibration. So it sizzles right through the sound. Air in the tone goes hand in hand with every bad thing that can happen. Not being able to play soft cleanly or at all, poor range, poor endurance, excessive mouthpiece pressure……. All BECAUSE the aperture is too big. Soft playing makes the aperture smaller. Here are some causes of an airy sound: A shallow mouthpiece causes this because you bottom out and it spreads the center of the chops. Fatigue causes it because the chops don’t stay together and they spread. Moving the lower lip out […]

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Breathing for trumpet playing

I have noticed that many people pull their lips apart or out of the mouthpiece when breathing for trumpet playing. This pulls the lower lip slightly out of the mouthpiece and for some it looks like this. The lower lip can not go back to its normal playing position. So it tries to continue playing by rolling the soft inside tissue into the hole that was made during the breath. That not only looks vastly different from this normal shot but also affects tone, range, endurance. Make sure you are NOT destroying your embouchure when breathing for trumpet playing. Some will take their first breath and then set so they are doing greatbut then when they breathe the embouchure changes. Here is one reason why that happens.The mouthpiece takes up about half of our overall lip length. When we try to corner breathe through both sides we stretch the lipsinto […]

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Factors for a dynamic embouchure

Lip tension, tongue arch and air speed are great for changing pitch in a particular register. But lip compression is needed inorder to change registers. Jeanne has already pointed out that arching the back of the tongue causes headaches and blackouts. So please remember to use a forward arch. A combination of 6 things are NEEDED to play trumpet well. Close lip setting (aperture) + mouthpiece pressure (just enough to make a seal) + lip compression + lip tension + tongue arch (forward) & Air (speed and support). These 6 points control the range of the instrument. There are many variations available in how these can be added together to play any one note. It is possible to play a double high c with a close setting and compression only. Stevens’ static exercises are played that way. Adding some mpc pressure to that can flesh out the notes yet these […]

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