Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2007 08:00:09 -0400
From: Glenn Bengry <>
Subject: [TPIN] strength/relaxation/caruso/20 min g/1 min g


This is long, but good I hope. There are only two jokes.  They are at the end.  If you are reading this only for the jokes, skip to the last 2 paragraphs.  If you don't want the jokes, you just want my serious seriousity, stop just before the last 2 or three paragraphs.

I was thinking about all the things tossed around the last few days.  Some guys were inspired to do some testing of the waters toward the 20 minutes and some guys have started doing some caruso.

We have been warned of "over doing it" which many of us do with EVERYTHING WE DO  and of "doing these things correctly"  Well, what does that mean?  I believe that the basis for everything we do on the trumpet is based on simple tone production.  Every note is essentially a long tone. The shorter faster notes are just long tones played less long. The goal is to be able to produce a pleasing sound easily, gracefully, efficiently, hence all the talk about correcting and developing one's embouchure.

Then the question is "How do I get a good sound easily gracefully, efficiently" Corners tight? corners loose?conflicting instructions and conceptions everywhere. Well, without getting too long winded with my dissertation here(Ellis can grant me my honorary DMA from the Hosaphone Conservatory when he gets back from the Mendez Institute), let me give you my perception of the physics involved. Basically you have an air stream force passing between the lips. In order to get a sound, buzz, vibration, whatever people want to call it. the lips essentially move together and apart in wave patterns. So they have to touch each other(which is why we can't play by putting the horn on one lip. The air blows them apart, the embouchure muscles bring the back together if you will. these are the two basic forces at work. Some people say  "Its all air" others say "its all chops" You can't have one without the other. the airspeed energy(force) needs to be balanced by the energy (! force)of the embouchure attempting to hold the lips in a together position. the embouchure can't be too tight/air backs up, cant flow, or too relaxed,loose/too far apart) or the balance and therefore efficiency will not be acheived.

OK, smarty pants, how do you find the balance? Based on some things I learned from Mendez' good friend and section mate at the Fox Theater here in Detroit, Emil Gowatch(who was the one who plucked Mendez out of the factory and got him in at the Fox. Thank you, Emil.), and also gleaned from Mendez approach(Gowatch and Mendez went around the country seeking out the great players for help with their problems. Schlossberg, Earnest Peachin.....) then I added my own stuff, I offer the following:

Blow gently through the mouthpiece, lips in a general mmmmmmm position but very loose, mouthpiece very lightly touching the lips(barely)NO SOUND YET, all you impatient trumpeters, WAIT. You don't want to get a sound until you've blown in this fashion probably between 10-20 times give or take a little. (Mendez says to blow 2-3 minutes just air) You want the air to FLOW THROUGH the mouthpiece as easily as any exhalation Repeat this step with a VERY SMALL increase in air speed. Hold the lips together a LITTLE more firmly. Each time, you will be a little faster and firmer. the lips will gradually begin to gently "grip" the mouthpiece with somewhat equal contact around the whole circle of the mouthpiece. the mouthpiece does NOT hold the lips in place(our biggest hurdle perhaps). The mouthpiece "catches" the vibrations.So the chops come TO the mouthpiece, not the mouthpiece TO the chops(and usually too much against the chops. The trumpet beast makes us press too hard) !
The horn is only a resonator and amplifier essentially It amplifies what it catches from the lips.

At some point as you make these tiny tiny adjustments the speed and firmness will be at the point where a vibration will spontaneously happen. It may only be a short vibration which will disappear right away. You are now extremely close to a balance/efficient point. Now speed up your air a little more and you will likely get a longer buzz(its tempting to abandon your perfect spot and immediately go back to the "old way". Resist if you can. Once you get here, you are real close to YOUR magic spot. you should now be real close to being able to maintain this easy, flowing, light pressure sound as a long tone. see if you can maintain the balance between air speed, embouchure firmness and mouthpiece contact/pressure. This is the basis for your own tone production balance(you have to find that spot everyday)

Well, how does this relate to Caruso, and the Cat Anderson long relaxed notes? In order to play relaxed, you have to have enough strength to keep the lips together with ease. The Caruso is partly a strength builder. Why do we need all this strength? In order to be able to play relaxed. If you want to be able to be relaxed on the higher notes(faster air)you have to have more strength.

With the Caruso exercises, we can easily get real out of balance especially with the pressure part of the equation. Since the idea of the exercises is partly to tire the muscles enough to recruit new muscle fibers(you will feel it in your face the next day and eventually see the development of your facial muscles), the tendency is to press when you get tired. As soon as you start to press enough to stop the vibration, especially of the top lip(ala Mendez/Gowatch) you begin to be counterproductive as we have been warned about. your sound may get a little rough when you get tired or get to the edge of your range. that is a GOOD thing as long as you don't press too hard. Increase the airspeed when you get tired and hold on with your embouchure firmness as much as you can, resisting the pressure(support the mouthpiece pressure more with the bottom lip and Jaw as per Mendez/Gowatch so that the top lip is always free to vibrate)

What about the 20 minutes? Well, it starts with the first spontaneous buzz. That is, at first, your closest thing to 20 minutes. You gradually go for longer and longer long tones maintaining the easy tone production. When your chops begin to give out, take a second or three off and see if you can return to the easy. When they really wont' do it easily, stop. Come back the next day and the next gradually going longer. After about 20 years you should get to 20 minutes(sorta kidding here)

So can you benefit from a 1 minute g? Absolutely. You can benefit from a 10 second g.

In my view, all the range, sound, tonguing, etc stem from this base of tone production. Mendez and Gowatch distilled some of this approach from Schlossberg, Peachin, HL Clarke who all studied somebody else, who studied with Arban who studied with Mike Vax I think, who studied with some guys that studied with Leon, who studied with Gabriel. Did I get that right? oops Leon studied with W. Smith I believe. We all pretty much steal ideas from the older guys. But, often we steal all the wrong stuff.