Date: Sun, 30 Dec 2007 16:36:50 -0800
From: "Jon" <>
Subject: [TPIN] EFFICIENCY! Part 2 (a little long...)

Here's the much anticipated Part 2 (big fanfare). Ok, first off, I think I should explain my comment that "air is not the answer." Judging from the *enthusiastic* off-list responses I've received, clarification is in order.

What I meant was air, while undeniably a (if not the most) crucial part of brass playing, is not necessarily the cause of inefficient chops. Here's a real-life example: after a children's concert last summer the orchestra held an instrument "petting zoo," where the kids could try out the various horns, fiddles, etc. A really cute little blonde girl came up and asked to play the trumpet. She couldn't have been more than 6 years old, and tiny to boot. After getting the horn into position (I had to help her hold it) she proceeded to blow a perfect in-the-staff G - no hiss, no fuzz, just sound. I told her to tighten her lips (a technical term), blow harder and play higher. Out came a just as perfect C. Totally amazing. I said to her mom, "Wow, that was incredible! She's gonna be a great trumpet player." The girl put down the horn and said, "Mommy, I don't like this thing. Can we go playthe flute now?" Sigh. Well, at least she's blonde and cute. If she turns into an airhead she'll be principal flute wherever she plays. :)

The point is this: the kid had no embouchure development and no wind power yet she managed to produce a great sound. How? I have to believe that she just has a naturally super-efficient setup which allows her lips to vibrate correctly with almost no effort. No wonder the 98 pound alcoholic weakling with a 5 pack-a-day habit can sit on double Cs all night long and only rest'cause he needs a drink and a smoke. His first note ever was probably a double G...

Thing is, this is what we all strive for. Question is, can we all do it, or at least some part of it, and how?

Lastly, I like to say that these musings are meant for those who have chop problems, not the fine players who post regularly. There are probably a lot of lurkers around who, for one reason or another, don't want to bother the list with their problems or anxieties. But I still welcome any and all flames... :)

Part 3 (with some useful stuff) tomorrow...


---------- Part one ----------------

That said, I'd like to rant, um, expound on a couple of issues which, while definitely controversial, seem, at least to me, to be at the bottom  of chops-related problems which I've experienced and, I imagine, many  others have too.

First, some heresy:

1. Air is not the answer.
2. Lips are important - in fact, the most important component of trumpet playing.
3. Embouchure and lips are not the same thing.
4. You will never make significant progress unless the LIPS are functioning correctly.
5. The lips will not function correctly unless the supporting muscles are in balance.
6. No amount of Clarke, Gordon, Stamp, Maggio, Irons, whoever, no matter how "correctly" practiced, will bring positive results if the lips aren't vibrating freely with minimal effort.

Ok, I'm sure there's more than enough flame bait here for the moment. Part 2 to follow shortly...