Issue: Apr-Jun 2005
Bandworld Magazine Page

 

 

 


Trumpet Embou-Sure (continued)
by Larry Hudson

#4-TIGHT, THIN TONE The pinched tone quality:

Logo EXAMPLE #4

is invariably produced as a result of tenseness.  In addition to more localized tension, the entire body often plays a significant role in this area.  Specifically speaking the three common causes are:

a. Tense, excessively pursed lip formation.
b. Too much pucker in the lips (hard 'oo').
c. Tight, closed throat.

REMEDY: Work with the student to be sure he is relaxed and then returns to re-formation of "B" but with less exaggeration so that the lips do not bite, pinch, pucker, or excessively purse together.

#5-COMPLETELY STOPPED This possibility is a severe exaggeration of #4.  No tone of any kind occurs due to:

a. Tense, excessively pursed lip formation.
b. Mouthpiece pressure toward lips.
c. Closed throat.

When closed throat is the cause, tension in the neck muscles is often visibly evident.  Sometimes the tension is even audible:

Logo EXAMPLE #5

REMEDY: If you suspect a "closed throat", review the sigh breath as a means of opening the throat and also relaxing the entire body.  Also review the "B" lip position and emphasize less exaggeration of the formation.  Then, as the student plays, watch carefully to be sure that excessive mouthpiece pressure against the lips is not the cause (No finger hook).

PUFFED CHEEKS

Though there have been a few successful performers who puff their cheeks, there is little doubt that allowing the cheeks to puff out greatly increases the likelihood of problems.  Specifically, puffed cheeks can cause numerous problems relative to pitch, control, and endurance.  If discouraged from the first lesson, the puffed-cheeks syndrome should be very easy to eliminate.  Use of a mirror can be a significant aid in helping the student who has been playing for some time and has this problem.

MOUTHPIECE SIZE

Mouthpiece selection is, of course, important for each student as an individual.  And though it is true that new student-line trumpets come with a mid-range mouthpiece suitable for the average beginner, real problems often occur when "Johnny" brings in "Uncle Herman's twenty-year-old trumpet with the super-duper, screech-range mouthpiece."  The cup diameter and depth of that highly specialized mouthpiece will directly affect tone, response, etc.

The more shallow the cup, the brighter the tone and the sharper the pitch in the upper range.  The larger the cup diameter, the bigger the possible tone.  That is not to say, of course, that every player should choose a large mouthpiece; in fact, beginners should normally begin on a mid-size mouthpiece (e.g. Bach 6 or 7).  Regardless of the choice, the teacher should check and even test any questionable mouthpiece.  It is, after all, extremely important to ensure the best possible conditions for the beginning student.

INTONATION

Every student can and must play in tune from the very beginning!  "Theories" which expound that "learning to blow" is the only important aspect in the beginning stages are ridiculous.  As soon as a note is introduced, there must be instruction, which produces correct tone quality.  Since out of tune notes seldom contain proper tone quality, it follows that attention to one cures the other.  Note in the following examples the natural tendency of the trumpet to play flat or sharp and with tone quality, which is inconsistent with surrounding notes:

continued

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