Where is your bar?

Where is YOUR bar? Not the closest watering hole as they say in Texas. Where have you set the bar for your playing? People wonder if it is fair that I say they needed to have things ready on 1 days notice. That depends. Do you want to be the player every one counts on to be perfect, or do you always want to sit in the audience and watch the player that everyone counts on? My level of meanness is based on the level of a students knowledge and skill. I treat a comeback player who stopped in High School a lot different than someone who is auditioning for Grad school and I treat them different than a good full time pro player. The better you get the higher the bar and that is how we constantly improve. But the bar isn’t what we can work up. It is […]

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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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Causes of trumpet problems

In my books I list all of the possible causes. Poor Attacks on Trumpet mouthpiece too small or shallow wrong syllable for tonguing lips too tight Weak Stuffy Trumpet Tone too little air used too much pressure closed throat Bright Shrill Trumpet Tone Mouthpiece too shallow Bad concept of tone Too tight Dull Lifeless Trumpet Tone Mouthpiece too deep No tongue arch Wrong concept of tone Forced Trumpet Sound Lips too tight Too much mouthpiece pressure Bad breath support Weak Upper Register on Trumpet Chops too tight Too much pressure Wrong or no pivot Weak Low Register on Trumpet No or wrong pivot Mouthpiece too small Not using warm air Haaaaa Changing Quality of Sound Poor breath support Change in tongue arch or pivot Tonguing problem Slow Response on Trumpet Too much pressure Poor breath support Lips too tense Missed Notes Mouthpiece Too small or shallow Too much pressure Poor […]

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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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Schilke note bending exercise

I first got wind of this from Renold Schilke and a little later, in greater detail, from David Hickman (Summit Brass). Since then I’ve heard variations of this routine recommended by many people. I was reminded of it again again and given some perspective by Fred Sautter (Portland Symphony) at the recent NY Brass Conference. The idea is to bend notes down from low C (Phase I), from G in staff (Phase II), from 3rd space C (Phase III), etc. In small doses this kind of thing may be a big help with your warming up. In larger doses, this exercise builds strength, brings corners forward and relaxes center pad, changes aperture shape from elliptical toward round, fattens the tone, and enhances ability to adjust pitch. Get comfortable and accurate with Phase I and II (see below) before adding Phase III–anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for […]

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Playing every day

When I play every day my tone starts getting airy and I can’t play soft. You have described what happens when one plays a spread embouchure. Playing TOO loud, TOO high (for your muscle development), TOO long and using MPC pressure. If you keep going it WILL get worse. Take 2-3 days off. Don’t let a mouthpiece touch your lips. Lip buzz for those 3 days. (This will help you to overcome the spread chop setting.) When you start playing again play everything soft. Practice to see how soft you can play. (Again this helps to prevent a spread setting and works on range). A very soft middle C has the same aperture size as a loud High C. Therefore you can practice making smaller apertures without the damage associated with range work. Work on Clarke Technical Study #1. Stay below Middle C. Just use the Low F# to Middle […]

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