Date: Fri, 25 Apr 1997 03:02:23 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Embouchure

This is in response to both Kevin Smith's "Embouchure" post and Tim Hutson's
"WAYTOOLONG My View" post.

Think about a five or six number lottery and how extreemly difficult that is >to win. With only five or six variables, you can create an amazing number of possibilities.

Well, there are a lot more variables involved in playing the trumpet then just five or six. As a result, there will be no two trumpet players who play exactly the same way. Sure, there will be certain similarities but there will also be some striking contrasts between the techniques and practices of equally successfull trumpet players.

The current subject is tongue possition. Tim is refering to the use of the tongue arch levels inside of the mouth while Kevin is refering to articulation striking points. I'll address Tim's first:

There are those who recommend a changing arch while playing and there are those who don't. All of my teachers fall in the latter, not the former catagory. But I've known of many teachers and players who prefer to use a changing arch.

Another notable difference is one that I just learned recently. I've had the distinct pleasure of taking a private lesson with Armondo Ghitalla. He doesn't advocate a moving arch, but does advocate a higher arch than what I was used to. I've been messing with it a lot since my lesson and it has its merits. His reasoning, as he described it to me, was that the change in the possition of the tongue effects the consistancy of the sound.

Mr Ghitalla also advocates stopping the air with the tongue on staccatto articulations. He is not the first to tell me this. My favorite teacher that I've ever had was Dick Schaffer. He also advocates stopping the air with the tongue in certain contexts.

So I am addressing Kevin now. When I was studying with Schaffer, we spent about four months trying to get me to tongue between my teeth and to stop the air with my tongue both on the same piece. He said that we rarely ever have to be this extreem about it, but being able to be so extreem makes you able to cover more bases. When I finally got it, my mind opened up towards all kinds of possibilities.

In summary, there are so many good, right ways to play the trumpet that we will likely be caught off gaurd by new other peoples for the rest of our lives. The approach you have is perhaps the best for you, but the opposite approach may work equally well for someone else. And I stress the word OPPOSITE!!!!

At this point I'd like to recommend "How I Became a Cornetist" by Herbert L. Clarke. He talks a lot in this book about how other peoples methods influenced his playing. He claims to have purchaced every cornet method published at the time, in both USA and Europe. When a colleague of his criticized his playing, he took it to heart and learned from that person's criticism. I've been so extreemly influenced by this book that I've begun studying privately again, I've been purchacing every method I can get my hands on (and afford) and I've been paying particular attention to the goings on on this list. As a result, I've added note bends and lead pipe buzzing to my regular studies and have been messing around with a few other things also.

If you think about it, H.L. Clarke could have been satisfied with his initial success and revolted against his critics. In stead, he learned from them. I have one more story before I get off this one:

About four years ago, this really young trombone player used to go to the same jamm sessions as I was and he used to ask me all kinds of questions about my embouchure, improvisation and anything you could think of. Two years later, he recorded with Roy Hargroves and became a member of the Ellington band. And his success didn't stop there. It was a couple of years since I had seen him again, but I expected a different person when we did finally meet again. I expected him to have a chip on his shoulders like he was "The Dude", if you know what I mean. I've seen lots of players do that. They head off to NY and come back latter like they're tough stuff.

But this guy hadn't changed a bit. By then, he was ten times the jazz player I am,but he still had questions for me and still wanted to learn from everyone he met. That's the attitude that I want and I find an extra measure of inspiration in seeing him stay that way.

I'll tell you guy what.......look out for him. He's going to be really big some day. His name is Andre Hayward. I haven't heard it yet, but he has recently recorded on a gospel thing that Kirk Whalum (SP?) did. Check it out.
I know I will.

Eddie Lewis