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Interesting excerpt from unpublished Reinhardt interview

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:18 am    Post subject: Interesting excerpt from unpublished Reinhardt interview Reply with quote

Iíve written out part of an interview that was done with Dr. Reinhardt in 1963 in a lesson with Phillip Horch (IIIA). There is much more to the interview, but I found this segment particularly interesting to read from a pedagogical standpoint. Of particular interest is the idea that Reinhardt taught the system in four stages. This concept hasnít been put in print as far as I know and Iím very curious to hear what some Reinhardt students/teachers think about these ideas. Did Doc ever talk to you about these points in your lessons? Do you address these points, either directly or indirectly, in lessons you give to others.
Also, do any of you know if there were any specific drills to address stages three and four? What was the test for "openness in the lip?" Could it have been a drill like the ďcomplete air pocket routine?Ē What was the drill for stage four? I know of the lip pucker routine but the routine he describes here seems different. Any ideas?
Itís also interesting to note that even with the complexity of his written materials, he talks here about how there is still some information he wouldnít tell a student until he was at a particular stage in his/her development. So, anyway, here it is!!

Unfortunately, in the pivot system, we have many misunderstandings, mainly because I was a student of psychology with Dr. Fernberger all through my Curtis years. He instilled in us that when we get a point across, because nature is so involved in our physical-playing set-up, we cannot afford to tell the student the things that he would experiment and upset his progress on.

For example, the pivot system is taught in four stages. Someone who just made a visit for an orientation certainly is not aware, or acquainted with the four stages. I will give you an illustration of this. The student doesnít know it, but 90% of the time when he walks through the door itís because he has a loose or flabby lower lip and weak mouth corners. In order to tighten this, the virtues of buzzing are expounded. His horn angle is pointed slightly down, a little ala Dorsey. The lip membrane is in and over, that is, slightly in and over the lower teeth and the upper lip, tip of the upper lip, reaches down and slightly overlaps the lower lip. In other words, much like buzzing. Now these statements are exaggerated. They have to be. So that when you say, ďLetís forget Reinhardt,Ē youíll play well, because Iíve exaggerated so much that enough rubs off in the subconscious to have that take over.

By pointing his horn slightly down, by getting the lower lip membrane slightly in and over the lower teeth, he suddenly discovers that the lower lip is very much involved with flexibility. It is also involved with his ability to slur without bumps, over various partial on the instrument, ascending and descending. He also notices that he can go another, oh Iíd say, three or four half tones, which he couldnít do before, so heís quite happy. So, heís found the out the key to his flexibility. Heís also found out the fact that he can play maybe three or four more half tones that he did when he walked in. So, he leaves a rather happy individual.

Now, this goes on for seven months to a year. Then one day his friends tell him, ďCharlie, youíre stating to sound nasal.Ē And he comes in and tells me at his next lesson. This ordinarily is my cue. However, the longer I can stall him in this position, or in this condition, I should say, the greater his range will be later on. However, if the complaints become too violent, then and only then, do I lift the angle of the instrument. In other words, a polite way of saying, ďprotrude you jaw a little more, Charlie!Ē He notices right away his sound is vastly improved, his flexibility did not diminish and his range is better than it was in the first place. So, he leaves and he is pretty happy.

A week or so later he comes back for another lesson. Now I lower the horn again, in angle, so his first thought would be, ďwhatís all this double talk? First he lowers my horn when I go in, keeps me that way for seven months to a year, and now he raises the horn for two weeks and the results are good, and now in spite of the good results he lowers the horn.Ē Actually, what you canít tell the student is, that when he raises the horn again, heís not going to raise it as much as the first time and when he lowers the horn the second time he doesnít lower it as much as the first time. Actually, he is whittling the mouthpiece into position, but I canít tell him or he would whittle behind my back and get in more trouble. So you have to be the dumb fox when you teach. Otherwise, you do not get your points across and no benefits are derived whatsoever. This isnít the idea of holding out, but it is the idea of holding out until nature gives you the necessary nudge and says, ďLetís go from here, Bud.Ē

After he goes through that, I show him a tube of Vitamin A and D ointment and we talk all about these German embouchures. As a teacher of mine once said, ďA dirty German habit, wetting embouchures.Ē I donít know whether they call is ďschmutzingĒ or not, but anyway, that and grease, the fellow by this time thinks youíre a full-fledged fool. But again, you canít explain too much to him. What weíre actually doing with all these lubricants, everything from boric acid powder all the way up to Vitamin A and D ointment and back again, these lubricants are to provide the all-essential hermetic seal. And to prevent lip distortion under the rim of the mouthpiece in his particular jaw, with his particular malocclusion or whatever else ails him. I do not mean that certain people are going around and greasing their lips and going out on jobs that way. Some do, I admit. But I do mean that to prevent embouchure distortion at that stage in a studentís career, that the hermetic seal, he soon discovers, itís a must. He soon discovers how much clearer his sound is without fuzz and extraneous noises. In most cases, they will use it indefinitely. Some will use it for warm-up, and then for their job use saliva. That is, again, up to the student. However, initially, that is part of the first stage. I should say part of the second stage, excuse me.

The third stage-all through the pivot system, the student is constantly hit with the idea of lip compression, increasing compression. Do not drop the jaw to descend, do not open the lips to inhale and then take a dive at the mouthpiece and call it an attack. In fact, the word compression is indelibly impressed in a student of the pivot system in this stage and up to this stage. Now, however, weíre going to run little test. This is stage number three, and I shouldnít be putting it on tape at all because people take it wrong. They donít wait their time, theyíre too anxious. They havenít got any perseverance in the first place. But in the third stage, I test for the degree of openness in the lip. That is a personal test and itís quite lengthy, but it must come sooner or later in the studentís career.

The fourth and last stage is a stage that few ever achieve, which is a full-fledged lip pucker. In order to bring it on, I use a high Bb or a high C coming down to an F or G immediately under that, not releasing one single solitary ounce of mouthpiece pressure, but forcing meat into the cup so that you can reach down, not release and collapse, reach down. Thatís the difference between Eddie Gerhart and Harry Glantz and you. Thatís the difference between a great player and a fellow who plays well on occasion. One of the greatest bass trombone players of all time was Mr. Ed Gerhardt of the Philadelphia Orchestra. This is the verdict, or was the verdict of, I should say, Toscanini, Stowkowski, Molenary, and half a hundred others who heard him play. He, upon examination with a plastic mouthpiece, was very little different in pressure throughout his high register all the way down including his pedal register. In other words, if a Ubangi in Africa can extend his lips so much that he can put a saucer in his lips, I donít think this is very unusual that I would expect you, that within a circle or circumference of a mouthpiece rim-for you to control that instrument. Thatís the control Iím speaking of. That the control that few ever achieve. Thatís no guarantee that youíll achieve it, but I would certainly try as hard as I possibly could.

Last edited by PivotBone on Tue Nov 28, 2006 10:55 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting this!

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Don Herman rev2
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I'm not a Dr. R student (yeah, I know, my loss), I have to comment that this is an excellent example of a student-teacher relationship espoused by others as well -- Caruso and Jacobs among them. Sometimes the hardest part of teaching is preventing the student from getting in his own way by (over) analyzing everything, second-guessing the teacher, etc.

I wonder how many "bad" teachers out there are given the label by pupils who refused to stick with the program long enough to reap the rewards? Sometimes teacher knows best despite what we may think...

Great post and something to think about, thanks! - Don
"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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Doug Elliott
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That used to work, back when students would actually do what the teacher said, unquestioned. But that's not the case anymore. Just look at the kind of questioning that goes on in these forums. There's just too much expectation of instant results.

I'm not familiar with what he calls stages three and four. I wish he had told me those things, but maybe by 1974 when I started with him, he had changed it, or maybe he (or I) just didn't get to it.

I'd like to know if anybody else knows what he's talking about.
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