I've been meaning to write about this. Last year I decided to make a mouthpiece change.....and at the same time......to not use any tongue arch (not even for the extreem upper register). These are two very different things and it wasn't my intention to do them both at the same time. It just happened that way.
First let me explain WHY I decided to make these changes. First the MP:
Several things caused me to begin thinking about other MPs. At the time, I was having some "sound" problems with a combo I rehearse with every week. I didn't like my sound in that group and I thought it was my intonation. Then I read a post to TPIN from Nick. He told us about a salsa player who sat in with him who played on a deep V cup and still had a great range and lots of power. Then, Tom Barreca visited my web site and listened to my sound clipp and complimented my trumpet sound. He liked the dark sound I was getting...........but I had recorded that on a flugle. Then, I learned that a lot of the Brittish players play on deep V cups. And finally someone also mentioned that both Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw played on deep V's.
So I pulled out my old Giardinelli MB1. I had played on this MP
for several years before studying with Jim Austin. Jim made me switch.
I didn't play on it again until a year ago. Talk about your home-comings.
That MP is home for me.
The only problem is that it's much more difficult to project in the upper register. I have the same range as I did on the other MP's, but that register is a lot more hollow sounding on the deep V.
Now for the tongue arch thing. I've never liked using syllables. If I slur octave C's, I don't like to do the "Ahhh --- Eeee" thing. To me, the sound of "Ahhh" is different from the sound of "Eeee". If I'm striving for a consistant sound on every note, it makes no sense, TO ME, to use syllables.
My exception to this WAS on notes above the G above high C. For those notes, I raised the arch of my tongue, not in a syllable fashion. It was just something I did to get those notes out.
Well, a friend of mine heard me playing some stuff that went above double C and he asked me if I was pinching. I had heard that phrase before, but never in the context of my own playing. I didn't really know what it meant. So I asked tpin and it seems there are two definitions of pinching. Some think it's when you press the lips together too hard and others think it's when you raise the arch of your tongue TOO high. That was me.
So I decided to not pinch anymore. Talk about stepping down. Doing this and the MP change at the same time cut an octave and a half off of my range. With the other MP, I could play up to G above high C without raising my arch. With the new MP I could play above Double C if I raised my arch (but not with the same sound). But combined, doing both things, it cut my workable range down to high C.
Right about now, many of you are probably very surprised to read what I'm writing. You're probably wondering why I changed my opinion about working on range. I've always written on this list that I don't believe you should work on range. You may think that I've changed my mind. I haven't. My philosophy is that you develop range by working on your general playing, not by working on your range. That has not changed. I do not and will not work on range exercises.
What's cool is that I am going through this development a second time. And now that I've learned from my previous mistakes, this time is going a lot better than the first time. It took me over four years to get from a range up to high C to having a range up to the G above. This time it only took one year. But the difference in my playing is worth every bit of the effort.
Last night I played lead with the Ed Gerlach orchestra backing up the Modernaires. I got dozens of compliments about my sound. I've gotten compliments about my lead playing before......and compliments about my sound.......but never compliments about my sound while playing lead. I'm very excited about it. Not because of the compliments, but because after all these years of struggling, I like my sound.
And the cool thing is, since playing on this new "setup" is so much more difficult physically, I can always go back to the old setup if and when I need to. But I usually don't. Now that I have this good sound, I can't stand to hear myself play the other way anymore (even though I can play an octave higher that way).
Just thought I'd let you know.