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
3. Embouchure and lips are not the same thing.
4. You will never make significant progress unless the LIPS are
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...