Turvat Kuntoon (Brass Chops Manual)
Turvat Kuntoon is the name of a method book from Finland,
by trumpeter Esko Heikkinen. I asked a
person from Finland how she
would translate "turvat kuntoon"? "Fix your chops or mouth", she said.
exactly what the english title says. The word "chops" in regards to
brass playing has to do with embouchure. To have "good chops" is the
same as to have a good embouchure.
When you open the book and look at the exercises you may at first feel
dissapointed. Most of them look so simple, and there are
only 6 different exercises. But when you start working on them,
you will discover that they are very powerful!
All exercises have a nick-name. The first one is called the “Bear’s Fart”. It is a very simple
warm-up exercise. The tempo (60 - 80 bpm) and duration (16 beats) give
a good stretch to the lungs, requiring a good quantity of air,
especially the lowest notes (low G and F#). All exercises starts on low
C and goes chromatically down to low F# (= all 7 valve positions).
First long tones (4 whole
notes tied together), then whole notes, then half notes, then quarters,
eighths, eight triplets and finally combined quarters, eighths, eight triplets and
sixteenths. Over time the player
learns to blow through the tongued notes while
maintaining the air necessary for the 16 counts. The “Bear’s
Fart” develops a variety of
technical concepts including, low register, endurance and breath
Heikkinen asks: "Why low tones?"
answers he gives are:
The third exercise is called "Roller-Coaster" and combines
endurance and register development. Like the “Bear’s Fart”
it starts with long tones (from low
C, chromatically down to low F#). It then adds notes above in the
harmonic series, one at a time. After some pages you get to this series:
- Everyone is able to play low tones
for a long time.
- In low register, lips get used to
the static condition without getting numb.
- It is easy to play low tones in a
relaxed manner and they work-out the muscles very slowly.
To develop the upper register, you play the high notes as quietly as
possible. Heikkinen suggest that you play all exercises even if you are
not able to play the highest notes. If this happens, you keep the
instrument on the lips, blow and imagines the notes. When you
are able to play all the "Roller-Coaster" exercises, you
can use them as your morning warm-up.
As mentioned there are 6 different (long) exercises in the book. It
too much space to discuss all of them. Since No.
1 and No. 3 was suggested as part of the starting lesson plan, I have
used them over some months - with very good results. In my opinion,
provides the basis for sensitivity in the attention they
draws to the integrity and quality of the air stream. No. 3, the
since it forces the player to maintain his air stream through
various registers without additional pressure - as the notes ascend,
dynamic diminishes. The motto seems to be: First
sensitivity — then power. By
the way, there are also power exercises - No. 6 is called "Heavy Duty" - Power and
At Lieksa Brass Week in July 1999, Heikkinen presented a workshop on his new trumpet method
book. Heikkinen offered this overall analysis of his method: )*
The foundation of this approach is exercise No.
1, consisting of long notes in the low register, which takes about 45
minutes to play. Rather than making the lips weak, this gentle approach
lays the foundation of power and strength and promotes a resonant
sound. No. 1 is a safe exercise to play even with a concert the
same day. One can also incorporate the power exercises into warm-ups
according to the needs of the day, but 80% of the warm-up should be
spent on No. 1, the remaining 20% on the power exercises. Exercise No.
5, with flutter tonguing incorporated, forces the
greater use of air in the upper register. Every person is
different and individual. Balance is a key ingredient. A
combination of long tones and tonguing, and soft dynamics, alternating
crescendi and decrescendi toward the upper register, all work to
I first came across this method in
March 2007, when I attended a masterclass with the Finnish
virtuoso euphonium player, Jukka Myllys.
Myllys bases much of his
teaching on this book.
My copy was ordered from Woodbrass
of pages: 52
Date publised: 2003 - second edition.
)* Note:This quote was found in a review
Journal, June 2000 - by Michael Tunnel.