Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1999 12:08:40 -1000
From: Mark Minasian <>
Subject: RE: Front Teeth V

>Can someone tell me more about Jerry Franks?
>Rosann Wilson

I already posted my experiences with dental bonding.  Well, when I was on the road with Mark Van Cleave, he highly recommended that I go see Jerry. I had three or four lessons with him before he passed away. Certainly the most unusual lessons I've ever had.

My first experience with Jerry was when Mark and I were heading to Canada to join the circus.  Jerry's son, Jeff, was to be the drummer for the show. Mark and I went into the house and took care of business with Jeff then Mark led me into the living room to introduce me to his teacher. Jerry was a severe diabetic, blind and had a kidney dialysis machine set up next to his lounge chair. Jerry was just finishing a lesson with some high school student. The student was working on the double tonguing section of Arban and Jerry, being blind, was running his fingers over the student's face as he played. He made some comments about jaw and tongue placement then picked up his horn and played the passage from memory.  I've never heard multiple tonguing like that! It sounded like he was flutter tonguing, but was clean and precise. I later learned that he could single tongue 16ths at around quarter note = 200 and that he had made a career for himself in the New York studios by having greater technical facility than any other player. Mark introduced me to him and the first thing Jerry said to me was "Let me feel your teeth". Not wanting to offend, I allowed him to stick his fingers in my mouth and feel my teeth. He then pronounced "Yep, you need bonding. You can't play above a high C, can you?"  I admitted that his diagnosis was correct, not quite knowing what to make of this fellow.

The lessons I had with him focused on his theory of why dental bonding aids in playing in the high register (already posted) and on how to gain such speed when multiple tonguing.  Jerry came up with his theory about teeth when in New York.  On many gigs, he would work next to Doc Severinsen (a close friend of his) and he said that he could play circles around Doc, except that he hit a wall at high D while Doc kept on going higher. Analyzing the playing of great lead players, he noticed that they all had a "high point", a tooth that angled or jutted out in front of the other teeth and that they angled the mouthpiece onto that tooth when ascending into the upper register.  He also noticed that people without a high point, like himself, struggled with the upper register.  Jerry looked into having his teeth fixed, but by then had been diagnosed with diabetes and told that he was a bad candidate because of his illness (this was before bonding was developed).  Jerry supervised the dental work on countless students and many of them went on to become professional lead trumpet players.

As far as rapid multiple tonguing goes, Jerry recommended using D and G syllables rather than the more commonly found T and K.  I found that by using these syllables that my tonguing speed and clarity did increase quite a bit.

Mark Minasian