From: "Reaban, Derek" <>
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 2004 09:12:39 -0700
Subject: [TPIN] ITG Conference 2004 - Jim West Warm-Up

Note: (Jim West sendt a comment, Sun 27 Jun 2004 to this article - He called it: Faucet, Hose, and Nozzle )

I attended the Jim West Warm-up session on Wednesday morning to get an overview of what concepts are currently being presented at the university level. Mr. West has studied with Renold Schilke, Charles Geyer, Vincent Cichowicz, and Adolph Herseth. More than anything, I was just curious to see how another player described these ideas, and to see if I would uncover any "gems" that I might be able to use in my own personal practice.

ITG Article found at:

Sound Production
I was very pleased to hear Jim's ideas and see how they aligned with my own thinking. I have written so much about finding the resonant center of the sound that I don't need to provide that discussion here, but, in very brief summary, he strongly advocates getting the "most noise for the least effort" via the Adam school of sound production. He applies a simple set of exercises (long tones) after establishing the most resonant sound with a half note and half rest (repeated four times) to memorize this feel (re-articulating to the resonant center each time). He also advocates breath attacks with these exercises (another aspect of sound production that is right on the money!)

Articulation Concepts
This was the highlight of the session for me. Mr. West gave a great description of his concepts and I have found a great improvement in my own playing after considering these ideas.

Articulation is an interruption of the air stream. Consider a free flowing stream of water coming from a faucet. Passing your hand quickly through the water interrupts the stream. However, this movement is very large and inefficient. By lightly touching the side of the stream of water with the side of one finger, similar results are produced, but for much less effort. This is an illustration that I had heard about before, but not the idea about using only the side of one finger (that paints a strong mental image for me).

Now he applied this concept to a tangible example that really worked for me. When articulating half notes at a slow tempo (say quarter equals 60 BPM), consider how much movement you are currently using. Is it similar to your entire hand passing through the stream of water? Try to minimize this movement to get the same sound, but with significantly reduced effort (the side of the finger brushing against the stream of water). This shorter stroke distance is more efficient which is highly repeatable. By focusing on minimizing movement, and increased repeatability, you are actually working on increased tonguing velocity.

When I applied this to my own practice, I very quickly broke through a plateau that I have not been able to move through with my single tonguing speed. I like it when I get immediate results from a very simple concept!

Expanding Dynamics
The concept presented here was one that I really enjoyed. It is firmly based on the ideas of Arnold Jacobs, and encourages the player to focus on positive air, or staying above the zero pressure line. It also implies that the player is "letting" the air out as opposed to "pushing" the air out.

The Arban exercise that is used for this concept begins on second line G and moves down with every other note being the second line G. The solfege would be Sol, Fi, Sol, Fa, Sol, Mi, Sol, Re, Sol, Do, Sol, Ti, Sol, Do all in half notes. This exercise is played in one breath at a comfortable tempo and dynamic (letting the air out and playing above the zero pressure line). By doing this, a certain dynamic is implied for each player.

To then expand the dynamic of the exercise, Mr. West suggest playing the first nine notes at an increased dynamic which would require more flow rate (while still maintaining the playing range above the zero pressure line). Take a breath and continue the exercise at this dynamic to the end. To move the exercise up an additional "notch", play only the first four notes (while still staying above the zero pressure line and simply "letting" the air out). Breathe, play the next four notes, breathe and continue to the end of the exercise.

He was very thorough in his explanation, and said that you should apply these exercises as long as they produce results. If you try this with no benefit or degradation in some elements of your playing, then it should be discontinued. Also, expanding dynamics is something that should probably not be included in a daily routine, but rather stretched out to at most once every three days. Very sound ideas presented here.

Increasing Air Velocity
Mr. West introduced the Hose, Nozzle, Faucet drill. This was a very unique way to look at the different ways in which changes between harmonics can be practiced. The goal would ultimately be to allow the body to apply whatever combination of these concepts was necessary to arrive at the desired result.

The exercise was shown in five-quarter notes with a quarter rest at the end beginning on low C and returning the low C after each "Sol". Do, Sol, Do, Sol, Do rest. Apply all seven-valve combinations and try the exercise using each of the different variations described below.

The Hose exercise had the player begin with a piano dynamic for each of the Do's followed by a forte dynamic for each of the Sol's. This implied increasing the airspeed with the breathing mechanism (blowing harder), and he tied this to the success that beginning players have when a note jumps to the next partial when they push as hard as possible. Be smart though, and just increase and decrease the speed / flow rate without adding tension to the system.

The Faucet exercise maintained a uniform dynamic for the entire exercise. He mentioned that to change the air speed while maintaining this same dynamic for all notes that the volume in the oral cavity was changing, like it does when whistling low and high pitches.

The Nozzle exercise is reversed from the Hose exercise. The dynamic for each of the Do's is forte, and the dynamic for each of the Sol's is piano. In this way the aperture must become smaller for the higher notes to sound.

I really enjoyed seeing that three-tiered approach applied which targets three different parts of the mechanism related to changing register.

I hope this post provides enough additional detail that couldn't be presented in the ITG coverage due to time restrictions for those of you that couldn't attend the conference.

Derek Reaban