Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2003 21:46:24 +0200
From: "Emile Meuffels" <>
Subject: Re: [TPIN] My trip to Sweden

Derek, and everyone else interested;

First, for those who don't know who Bo Nilsson is: he is off course known as the teacher of Hakan Hardenberger. And there are probably not many trumpet soloists in Europe who didn't have lessons with him. He is best known as embouchure-doctor. In an instant, he can see or hear what you are doing wrong and even better: he knows how to correct it!

I met him at a masterclass he gave at the Amsterdam Conservatory last year. In an one hour lesson he was able to correct my note-center-problem and everything I played felt much easier. Unfortunately I couldn't reproduce it afterwards. So I decided to visit him for some lessons.

My first trip to Sweden

In August I went there the first time. I was there for five days and had five private lessons. My problem was that my embouchure was too open. Apparently this is a very common problem; players want a good sound in the low register so they open up and afterwards, if they want to play up, they have to pinch to get up there.

His solution is buzzing. I have to buzz (in the middle register, whatever I play) and then put the trumpet on. After each breath I have to buzz again.

At first I worked on a selection of Irons lip-flexibilities, without the low notes. I first have to learn to play the middle and high-register. The low register is most difficult to play with a good embouchure and has to wait till last. I have to change the notes with my tongue and air and have to make sure that I don't change my lips.

After a few days we added tonguing. Clarke technical studies, first slurred and in the repeat tongued. No breath on the repeat to keep the slurred feeling while tonguing. The air has to keep flowing while the tongue very fast interrupts it. Again, the lips shouldn't move while you tongue!

I went home with a program of Irons, Cichowicz Flow Studies, Clarke, Bordogni Vocalises to work on sound, Concone scale studies (originally for soprano)

My second trip to Sweden

After about two months of practice I went back last week, again for five private lessons. The masterclass by Hakan and the concert of the symphony were just added bonusses!

Two old habits creeped back into my routine: I have the tendency to hold back the air just after the first note and I changed my embouchure for the lower notes. I just have to pay attention that I keep blowing and I have to take my trumpet off my lips for the lower notes. This way, I just buzz them and am not able to change anything.

We continued on the tonguing excercises and I can also start to learn to play without buzz, but off course I have to play the same as with the buzz. To accomplish this I have to first buzz the note, then breathe through my nose without changing my embouchure. For the next few lines I keep breathing through my nose. After I few lines I breath normally and buzz again, but as I learn to play automatically "the buzz way" I can play longer and longer without buzzing.

I now have to play the Irons on C-trumpet which makes it a lot more challenging. Between the Irons-exercises I have to change to B-flat for tonguing excercises. And we added a lot of books to keep everything interesting: Clarke Characteristic Studies (Including the Articulation excercises from the start of the book), Articulation excercises from The Bing Book, Hering Advanced Etudes, A Russian book of compiled etudes, Warm up from Tony Plog's Method, Harold Branch Trumpet Warmups (III - All diatonic chords and inversions).

So now I am practising very hard again till late November, my next trip to Sweden!