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Méndez' breath control improved over the years?



 
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_TrumpeT_
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 12:02 pm    Post subject: Méndez' breath control improved over the years? Reply with quote

http://youtube.com/watch?v=gUij8FCg0z8
In this clip he plays a passage from the Mexican Hat Dance in one breath which lasts about 40 seconds to demonstrate what one can arrive at after a lot of hard work. Even Mendez seemed to find it a little taxing (see how he breathes at the end). We know that Rafael Mendez recorded moto perpetuo in four sections each lasting over a minute. Did he improve his breath control?
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trpt.hick
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I don't think that Mendez was actually that much out of air in the video. He may have seemed that way for show.
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llswoods
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 4:01 pm    Post subject: Mendez and Breath Control Reply with quote

I do not know for a fact, but someone once mentioned that Rafael Mendez had only one lung, and he devloped that to a tremendous degree in his pursuit of playing trumpet.
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mateo
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I heard one of my teachers in high school say that Mendez used to tell the students to do breath control exercises in time with their steps as they walked. I have done this exercise for years- partly becuase I used to run cross country and the coaches told us to time our breathing with a certain amount of steps and try to increase as the season went on. ie 7 strides inhale 7 strides hold 7 strides exhale. when you develop this as a runner it helped my endurance and prevented cramping. As a trumpet player it mostly helped promote relaxed and more efficient breath use without getting dizzy on the long passages.
That being said, I was thumbing through the Army Band's publication on trumpet playing and this breathing exercise was included. I still try to do it every once in a while. There is also a book worth mentioning here that recently came out and it has a short section on developing breath control that I think may be beneficial. It is called "Peak Performance" by Mick Hess- the long tone scale patterns in there are similar to the first 5 studies out of the cichowicz book. The idea is to extend them and play them at a slower tempo every week or so. he has his study working backward from 100 bpm to 40 bpm. I recommend checking it out.
Mateo
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trpt.hick
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mendez had two healthy lungs, although he developed ashma late in his career. It was Arnold Jacobs that had one useless lung and had to learn to play tuba in the Chicago Symphony with only one.
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mcgovnor
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:57 am    Post subject: Mendez Reply with quote

Mendez walking exercise was learned from Louis Maggio.
Carlton Macbeth details the exercise in his book.

www.newyorkbrass.com
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trpt.hick
Rafael Méndez Forum Moderator


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it may be the other way around. Mendez was the teacher of Maggio even though Maggio was much older than Mendez. Mendez taught Maggio how to play pedal tones as a way to get over his accident (Maggio slipping on ice in Minneapolis and smashing lips on trolley track spike). Mendez developed this after his own accident in Detroit a few years earlier.
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mcgovnor
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:01 pm    Post subject: interesting Reply with quote

Carlton Macbeth wrote it the other way around.
here is something quick
One of Louis Maggio’s Greatest Students

To those of you who do not know, Louis Maggio (1878-1957) developed a revolutionary approach to brass playing. A disastrous injury to his embouchure evolved into an amazing recovery and a totally new concept of brass playing. Maggio’s teachings were faithfully documented by Carlton MacBeth and presented in The Original Louis Maggio System of Brass. I was first introduced to this method by Vince Penzarella, 3rd trumpet for the NY Philharmonic, many years ago. Mr. Penzarellla had also suffered a disastrous injury to his embouchure and used this method to make an amazing recovery.
As a teen, Vince had told me to buy this book and do the exercises every day. Well I didn’t listen to him. Not until about eight years ago, when I was frustrated with my old embouchure and was looking for a way to play that would serve me in the long run.
In The Original Louis Maggio System for Brass there is a photograph of a group of Louis Maggio’s students. Sitting to Maggio’s right is Raphael Mendez who apparently utilized his method with great success.
I have attached a very interesting video of Mendez offering his advice on practicing and breath control, as well as exhibiting his awesome talent. Watch closely and see Mendez doing circular breathing. Enjoy.
1 video:
Rafael Mendez - Flight of the Bumble Bee & Mexican Hat Dance
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mcgovnor
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 4:06 pm    Post subject: WELL.. Reply with quote

Thank you Mendez Forum Moderator for the facts.
Very benevolent of the Mendez Estate to permit the Maggio/Macbeth story to linger so long.
Thanks again.
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trpt.hick
Rafael Méndez Forum Moderator


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That photo (which a very large copy is in the Rafael Mendez Library at Arizona State University) was taken at Maggio's 75th birthday party. Mendez was there because they were good friends, not because he was a student.

MacBeth got the story wrong. He probably assummed that Maggio came up with the pedal exercises on his own, but he developed them after seeking Mendez (who was by then living and performing in Los Angeles) to find out how he got past his accident (swinging door into bell in a pit orchestra when Mendez and Maggio played together in Detroit). Later, Mendez played with Rudy Vallee in NYC and then moved to LA. Maggio had moved to Minneapolis to play in what was then called the Minneapolis Symphony.

Maggio never wrote a book. His student, MacBeth, put together a "Maggio System" book after Maggio died. The exercises were taken from lesson notes and exercises Maggio gave him. By the way, Claude Gordon and Roger Spaulding were also students of Maggio. Interestingly, they never mention Mendez or Maggio in their methods.

Mendez did an interview for an ITG Journal in 1979. The interview is transcribed by H. M. Lewis: "Rafael Mendez: Trumpeter Extraordinaire." (Vol. 4, May, 1979) Mendez states all of this very clearly. He even says "Him (Maggio) from me, not me from him" because Lewis had heard the opposite as well.
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trpt.hick
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The two Mendez sons studied with Rafael, and with Maggio when their father was on long tours. Both Robert and Ralph have told me the same story about how their dad got the pedal exercises from his father in Mexico. After nearly a year of pedal development, Rafael returned the the US playing even better than before the accident.

When Maggio moved to LA to study with Mendez, he decided to stay there and teach pedal tones to all who wanted stronger embouchures. For some reason, Maggio never played as well as before his accident (probably nerve damage?), but he was the man who started the pedal craze in a big way.
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jazzfidelity
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

According to the liner notes for Rafael Mendez first album for the Coast label, the swinging door incident happened before he sought out Louis Maggio for help. They state, "the next two years were spent in searching for a teacher who could help him learn to play again, but no one, it seemed, could help him until he came under the wing of his old friend, Lou Maggio, who taught him to play again."
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amzi
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to play with a trumpet player that grew up with the Mendez brothers, in fact living down the street from them. While he never took any lessons from Raphael Mendez he had a lot of opportunity to listen to him play. As to breath control, Mendez had unbelievable breath control. According to Harry, while his recording of Moto Perpetuo was done in 4 takes, he could and did (frequently) play it in a single breath. However he normally employed circular breathing when performing the piece.
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trpt.hick
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After Mendez healed up after his swinging door accident, he was unable to make a sound on the trumpet due to a lot of scar tissue. Most of the scar tissue was because they did not have antibiotics back then, and his upper lip became infected. . . grew to the size of a golf ball. Medical doctors told him that he would simply have to wait for nature to take its course. Being impatient, Mendez went to a doctor in Mexico, who agreed to lance the lip and drain the puss. After doing this, Rafael's upper lip needed to be cauterized, so the doctor used a hot tool similar to a soldering iron! This left a large hole in Rafael's upper lip. Rafael said that the doctor put a mirror in front of him to see the hole before he sewed it together. Rafael said he about fainted!!!

After the lip healed up again, the scar tissue made it impossible to make a sound on the trumpet. Rafael went to his friend (and second trumpet in the pit orchestra in Detroit), Louis Maggio, because Maggio was known for his excellent teaching. In this case, however, Maggio was not able to help him, so Mendez journeyed to New York City for a lesson with Max Scholssberg. Schlossberg could not help him. Mendez then went to Boston for a lesson with Walter Smith, who also could not help. Lessons followed with Gustat in St. Louis, and Clarke in Long Beach. . .to no avail.

Desperate, Rafael went back to his hometown in Mexico to take lessons from his father, Maximino. His father had him play lots and lots of pedal tones each day, for hours. After a few months, the scar tissue loosened and he was able to play again.

By the time Rafael went back to Detroit, Maggio had taken a job with the Minneapolis Symphony. Meanwhile, Rafael moved to NYC to play with the Rudy Valle Orchestra. When Rafael and a couple other members of the Valle band were sent to Los Angeles to do pre-tour publicity, Rafael fell in love with southern California, and decided to move there permanently. He got a job hosting a radio program for a Spanish speaking radio station, and eventually began freelancing in Los Angeles.

Back in Minnesota, Maggio slipped on some ice while crossing a street (in 1937), and hit his mouth on a trolly track switch button, causing a massive lip injury. After months of healing, scar tissue prevented him from playing the trumpet. Remembering that Rafael had learned to play again, Maggio tracked down Rafael and called him on the phone. Rafael encouraged him to move to Los Angeles so he could learn the pedal tone technique given to him by his father. After a few months with Rafael, Maggio could play well again, but decided to stay in California where he opened a teaching studio. He made a nice living teaching pedal tones. He and Rafael remained friends for life, and because Rafael was on tour much of the year, he had his sons take lessons from Maggio because he knew that they would get proper training while he was away.

Maggio never wrote a method book, but several of his students including Carlton MacBeth and Claude Gordon did. No credit appears for Rafael's importance in this whole thing, perhaps because Maggio did not tell the background story to his students. MacBeth incorrectly lists the date of Maggio's accident, making it look like his accident was well before Rafael's, but it was not.

Dave Hickman
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