Since we all are teachers, whether ultimately "our own teacher", teaching others privately or teaching the youth in a school setting such as Middle School, High School or College level, I will be gearing FixYourBrass to include teachers and performers. My posts will have various "topics" (Range, for example), with information for development and maintaining these categories as well as problems that may arise. The posts may be followed by my own "comments" and as to solutions to these problems watch for follow-up posts. So please add your own comments as to create a dialogue regarding said posts as well as any "personal problems" that I can help with. Looking forward to this exchange.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Right Hand Position for Trumpet

To leave no stone unturned, briefly let us take notice of the right hand (in the right-handed performer). The right hand must be FREE to manipulate the slide (on the trombone) or finger the valves on valve instruments. Needless to say, the right hand must be totally relaxed and NOT be used to hold or support the instrument in any way. This is particularly true of the trumpet and trombone. The only exception being: when the performer is using a wa-wa mute or plunger mute that requires the left hand manipulation. On the trumpet, as to the little-finger ring hook, with the thumb of the right hand placed between the first and second valve casings, this little-finger hook and thumb position facilitates the speed and width of the hand vibrato, widely used by most performers.Even with other types of vibrato (diaphragmatic, breath, jaw, lip, etc.) there must be no excuse to use the right hand to support the instrument and jam the instrument into the face, using the little finger quite literally as a "hook". And when lip trills or shakes occur from an exaggerated right hand vibrato, the left hand is still holding the instrument!
1. Always performed with an embouchure that has been thoroughly lubricated with saliva, regardless of the degree of lubrication used in normal playing. The proper way to lubricate is a.) wet the teeth and gums, b.) wet the mouth corners and c.) wet the entire outer embouchure area IN THAT ORDER.
2. The membrane (red) of the lower lip must be rolled in (not curled in) and slightly over the lower teeth, while the tip of the overlapping upper lip is simultaneously reaching down to make its light contact (just touching) with the lower lip at the vibrating points, as in the letter “M”.
3. Very few performers ever succeed in buzzing pitches as high as they can play them on their instruments, so do not expect too much in the immediate future from buzzing in the way of range.
4. Always practice buzzing with the air stream traveling in a DOWNWARD direction, regardless of your particular physical playing type.
5. Buzz so lightly that the air stream will be emitted only from ONE SPOT on the embouchure formation.
6. Do not become alarmed if the buzz is not emitted from the same spot on the embouchure formation where the actual playing takes place.
7. All buzzing procedures must be commenced with a HOOO no tongue attack. [This keeps the tongue out of the equation. And phrase-wise, only buzz in a cantabile “straight slurring” fashion]8. Never practice the buzzing routine while the embouchure is in a fatigued condition.
9. Do not make a habit of using any buzzing procedure for a warm-up.
10. While playing the instrument, the performer should always place, inhale, play and NEVER inhale, place, play. Do not permit the buzzing procedure to confuse the order of points in normal playing.
11. Buzzing is used as a correctional procedure, not as a method of playing.
12. Because it is quite possible to buzz incorrectly, no infractions of the rules must be tolerated.

Buzzing Instructions:
Without any assistance from the mouthpiece or the instruments, form the lips as prescribed in #2 (above) and practice sustaining notes to the fullest extent of the playing breath and slurring phrases in a cantabile fashion.[The above material is excerpted from The Encyclopedia of The Pivot System]

The Initial Lesson

The initial lesson should at least include the following mechanical points:

1. The correct right and left hand positions
2. The Position of The Arms.
3.The correct standing and sitting posture
4.The correct amount of time to practice
5. The initial buzz drill.
6. The mouth corner inhalation.
7. The introduction to slurring.
8. The duties of the lower lip.
9. A few comments on the amount of mouthpiece pressure to use.
10. Mention breathing and
11. The Spider-Web Warm-up ( also serves as a fingering or position chart).

Traditional Teaching vs. Reinhardt Teaching

The Traditional Approach for the beginner on a Brass Instrument.

1. Form the lips for mouthpiece placement by smiling them into their playing position.2. The lips are stretched across the teeth like two rubber bands and are controlled by pulling the mouth corners toward the ears to ascend and releasing the mouth corner tension to descend.3. Drop or lower the position of the jaw to descend into the lower register of the instrument.4. The mouthpiece must be placed in the center of the lips, so that the mouth corner stretch (smile) will be identical on both sides of the mouth.5. Use a minimum of mouthpiece pressure against the lips at all times.6. The instrument must always be held in a horizontal position.7. The abdominal regions should be pulled in while inhaling.8. Inhale as large a quantity of air as possible; learn to control it.9. The diaphragm and abdominal regions must protrude to ascend and recede to descend.10. Execute the attack by enunciating the syllable TOO or TU. The tip of the tongue should penetrate between the teeth and lips, much like spitting seeds, threads, or confetti from the tip of the tongue.11. The student is nearly always started on the lowest open tone on his particular instrument.

The Reinhardt Method for the beginner on a Brass Instrument.

1. Saturate the teeth, lips and mouth corners with saliva and keep them in this lubricated condition throughout the playing.2. Always PLACE – INHALE – PLAY and never inhale – place – play. 3. Learn to BUZZ correctly as early as possible. No instrument or mouthpiece.4. Form the saturated lips as if to buzz to ready the lips for mouthpiece placement.5. The HOO or no-tongue attack is utilized during the first few weeks.6. Positively never permit the tip of the tongue to penetrate between the teeth and lips.7. Positively never “smile” to ascend.8. The membrane (red) of the lower lip must move slightly in and over the lower teeth while ascending.9. The slur is demonstrated and taught during the initial lesson, being an absolute necessity for rapid embouchure development.10. Practically all students are started from the third open partial on their particular instrument.11. The diaphragm and abdominal regions must move down and out to inhale, and move “in” to blow and “in and up” ascend the instrument.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Link to follow for more Grip Information

http://www.airstreamdynamics.com/thegripspurpose.htm This will be in conjunction to the grip photos ... It is important to note that there are no "wrong" grips, only grips used wrongly. This is explained by this link, where no matter what grip one uses, and in this case for the trumpet player, it must be noted that ONE grip, the one decided upon by both student and teacher as the case may be, is essential. i.e. Do not change the grip throughout all playing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


The first one on my blog is Dave, the facilitator of such. This Blog came about after years of frustration with the state of Brass Sections in Middle Schools, High Schools and even Colleges I have visited, both as an audience member and also as a lecturer.

It all started when I was asked to speak at the Virginia Music Educators Association about 10 years ago. After my designated hour of "How to Play a Brass Instrument" and "The Importance of The First Lesson", a high school teacher came up to me and said if I could help her with her Trumpets. She said "They were having trouble playing the 'C'." I naturally assumed she meant the High C, but no, she said the third space C. That was the start of my experiences with beginning, middle, and even so-called "advanced" students about to enter college and the college players themselves!

Since then I have established my own web site www.airstreamdynamics.com and am highly involved in posting on www.pivotalk.com and www.trumpetherald.com .
I and a well-trained staff, located in all parts of the country, will soon be offering the following to all Jazz Groups throughout the country to give all the trumpet players and trombone players the range, endurance and power the majority truly lack. You can follow this program on my other blog www.polishyourbrass.blogspot.com in progress.

¨ Turn on your brass section to increased range, power, flexibility and endurance.

¨ Transform a weak trumpet section into a dynamic, exciting tornado!

¨ Make the trombone section a wall of power!

¨ Have the best Ensemble ever!

Are you ready?

My on-line posts are called "airdyn".

I welcome ALL brass players.