Date: Thu, 30 Oct 97 21:10:31 -0400
From: Joe Auty <>
Subject: An afternoon with Roger Ingram

Roger Ingram came to my school in Toronto today to do a clinic...

I was quite impressed with his clinic, not to mention playing.. Roger is a very articulate, and kind guy.. and quite approachable. In fact, some other students and I are having him give us a lesson in his hotel room this Saturday - he was very willing and enthusiastic to do this!

He started the clinic off by giving a brief bio of his work (he's currently touring with Ray Charles), and then proceeded to discuss his warmup. His warmup is virtually the same as Bobby Shew's (which he gave credit to at some point) since Roger was a student of Bobby's and admires his work and teachings a great deal. For those of you who aren't familiar with these teachings, it's simply lip fluttering to rejuvenate the muscle tissue in the face and whatnot. The next part of his warmup is a buzz w/o MP, followed by buzz w. MP. At this point, the warmup is virtually done, and he is able to try out a few notes on the horn. He spoke about differentiating a warmup from practice and feels that a warmup should only take 5 minutes or so. At this point he mentioned that his lips behave funny in the cold weather up here in Toronto, and was interested to find that all of us brass players in attendance play with wet lips.

Anyway, he played some high stuff for us and began to talk about how lead playing is not just range and power. He said that if you look up the word "lead" in the dictionary, you'll find a definition closer to the definition of a true lead player. In fact, he talked about Snookie Young and players like him a great deal with an evident HUGE respect, and mentioned that Bill Chase was the first player to have stuff written in the lead book which demanded both high chops, and lead playing (as opposed to bands like Kenton and Ellington where there was an altissimo trumpet player, and a lead player). He talked about other lead players (many I had never heard of), and said that he tries to use various players as examples for his own playing which he adjusts depending on the style of the band and time period, etc.

He mentioned that that double-D in the first track of Harry Connick's Blue Light CD was actually written for him, and not an opt 8va, and shared anecdotes of his time with Maynard, Woody Herman, etc. I learned that there is much more to lead playing than just being a throttle-it-to-the-wall blowhard. He spoke of playing with taste.

Roger is also a mouthpiece switcher.. he uses 3 or 4 different pieces depending on the work he has to do. He said that he would NOT play third trumpet with his lead piece because the bright sound he gets on his lead piece is downright "rude" to the lead player.. when asked (by me) when one should experiment with MP switching, he said "when you can play all of Arbans" and snickered. I guess in retrospect it wasn't' a great question since he does not know my playing or level of intellect and understanding of the horn. I know guys who furiously switch pieces trying to find quick fixes to everything. I thought it was cool that he emphasized on PRACTICE more so than equipment, and other such razzmatazz...

He said that Maynard used to love little tinker toys and had a nickname which I can't recall at this point, and loved the Blues Brothers movie... it was interesting hearing stories about a hero of mine on a personal level.... speaking of Maynard, I asked him something about Footpath Cafe in regards to MF's playing and he said that that album was something that was whipped up in 3 hours in some place in Belgium, and MF was simply having a bad day. He felt the CD should have never been released, but as logistics have it, it was.

He said that when he was young, he'd practice for 4 hours in his backyard with an old horn he bought in a pawnshop w. a mouthpiece made out of pure brass (at this point he knew VERY little about the trumpet), but eventually could play a double-A when he was 16 and became "obsessed" with his high range. He believes that anybody can learn to play a double-C and beyond.

He briefly demonstrated the Bobby Shew breathing system (the wedge) and said that he feels that using the wedge in the lower register is optional, but it is possible to use the wedge and play w/o tension. He made it clear that this, and his other teachings, is what works for HIM, and he's sure there are other ways to do the job.

In regards to teeth, he said that he has seen many people with bad teeth who could play well, and many people with perfect teeth (I think Bud Brisbois was an example) who could play. He also mentioned about a trombone player who chipped his tooth and instantly added range. He basically was saying that teeth are somewhat a mystery to him.

He mentioned that he is a big fan of principal symphonic trumpet players, but said that playing classical is not his bag...

Anyway, I hope you find this as interesting as it was for me.....!!