Date: Sun, 27 Jun 2004 15:18:07 EDT
Re: [TPIN] Faucet, Hose, and Nozzle

I wrote a reply to Derek's article that you might also want to include. It's below.

James R. West

Although I mostly lurk on this list, I figured I needed to clarify some of the stuff about the warm-up sessions. The best source is still the horse's mouth!

Sound Production
"Most noise for the least effort" is right on. I also try to find the center when buzzing the lead-pipe (a la Bill Adams) and buzzing the mouthpiece! Yes, the mouthpiece has a place where you get the most sound for the least effort!

I want to make sure the source gets cited for this. I did it in the session, but it should be mentioned here, too. Ed Sandor is the guy who talked about turning the "faucet" on and brushing the side of it with one finger. I caught his lecture at the MENC conference in Minnesota. The mental image helped me, too!

Expanding Dynamics
I never said a word about the "zero pressure line". I like to start the first notes of the day by just exhaling into the horn-no "push" on the air at all. If my lips will respond to that, it's going to be an easy day. Increasing the dynamic involves using air beyond just a simple exhale. I like to think of the exhale as the basic component, and add to it as needed. Practice the Arban exercise on Page 13, #10 at medium, soft, and loud volume levels. Yes, always go by results! I make that point CONSTANTLY with my students! Most things that we do on the trumpet help us at first, and then level off. At that point, you must change something in order to continue making progress.

Hose, Faucet, Nozzle
Basic physics says that in order to play a higher note, the air must move faster. The deal is that there are several ways of getting the air to move faster. One point that needs making is that ALL of the methods have a limit. I'll explain:

Visualize a water faucet like the one that's on the side of a house. You know, the one you use to water the lawn. If you crack the faucet open a touch, you get a dribble of water. If you open the faucet more, you get a bigger, faster moving stream. The "faucet" for us is our air supply, and how we blow the supply through the horn. The "blow" is done with the ab muscles, the chest muscles, etc. Now, remember that threshold? You can blow harder and harder and you will eventually reach a point where the sound gets nasty. It's your basic "tight" sound. I call it the Black and Decker trumpet tone. It's similar to the sound a power saw makes going through thick plywood! Notice that, once you have passed the threshold, blowing harder will NOT make the sound louder, it will make it TIGHTER!

To practice isolating the "faucet" tool, play slurs and/or scales and play the low notes soft and the high notes loud. Even "kick" the upper notes with the diaphragm making an accent to feel how this tool is employed. Be very aware of crossing the threshold. Don't play with a tight sound!

This is like the nozzle at the end of the garden hose. Open the nozzle all the way, and you get a large volume of water dribbling out of the end of the hose. High flow, low pressure. As you close down the nozzle, you get a thinner jet of water that shoots farther. Higher pressure, lower flow. The nozzle corresponds to the lip aperture. If you have a tiny aperture, you'll get a tiny, fast moving jet of air. If the aperture is bigger, you'll get a bigger, slower moving flow of air. Now what happens if you "pinch" the aperture too small on a particular note? You get a pinched sound, of course. If the opening is too big, you'll get a fuzzy sound, or no sound at all.

Practice isolating the "nozzle" tool by playing slurs and/or scales and playing the low notes LOUD and the high notes SOFT. You'll need a large aperture to play a low, loud note, and a small aperture to play a high, soft note. Mind the threshold! Don't play with a pinched sound.

A big, fat hose gives a large flow of water. A skinny little hose will give a faster jet of water with lower volume.

In our bodies, the hose is adjustable! It is the oral cavity inside our mouth. The control is the tongue. Threshold here shows up as resonance in the sound.

Practice isolating this tool by playing slurs and scales with a LEVEL volume. If you keep the volume the same, the only way you can make the air go faster for the high notes is by making the oral cavity smaller.

In "normal" playing, we use all of these tools. The trick is to use them in balance! I hope this helps!

James R. West
Louisiana State University