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jhatpro
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:46 am    Post subject: Left Hand Grip Reply with quote

Can changing how you grip a horn with your left hand have a beneficial effect on your sound, range, endurance?

I ask because I've noticed that no two players seem to hold their horn exactly alike.

I've seen:

- left index finger wrapped around the valve block
- left index finger curled over the bell tube
- left index finger pointed upward, alongside the bell tube
- left index finger and middle finger both under the bell tube
- all four left hand fingers under the bell tube

I'm sure there are even more variations.

What works best for you and why?
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

no
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Tony Scodwell
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:05 am    Post subject: Grippy mouthpieces Reply with quote

Sorry Billy B. I to have noticed several different grips with the players I've listened to and found advantages to changing hand position with my own playing. The best example seems to be Maynard and he held the horn way down on the valves. In my career playing lead with Harry James, Buddy Rich and Doc Severinsen, I've found that when I'm getting a bit tired, holding my horn similar to Maynard helps with both range and endurance. My normal grip is traditional with all fingers wrapped around the valves above the third slide and like I said, it helps to change grip position when getting a little tired. May not work for you but it works for me.

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trpt.hick
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The left hand grip makes a huge difference for many players, especially with upper range.

Dave Hickman
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TKSop
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely it makes a difference - different grips encourage pressure onto the chops in different ways (in terms of how much onto top-vs-bottom lip), different ones will suit different people and sometimes certain ones will really not suit some people.

A lot of players rely on moderate amounts of pressure to play well - if a certain amount is required then having better control over it is surely advantageous?
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gstump
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes.

My set-up later in my career:
Index finger in third valve slide ring. 3 fingers under third valve slide.

Saved my upper lip in some very grueling situations.

Cheers,

Gordon Stump
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lakejw
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely. Lately I've found the "2 up - 2 down" method is my default (middle finger in the 3rd valve ring), and with my thumb in the 1st valve saddle I get a firm grip on the valve block. It's somewhat fatiguing to my hand & arm in a long, pounding show, but helps out with security/accuracy.

If my arm & chops get tired, like Tony I will switch to the "1 up - 3 down" Maynard-style grip. Takes a lot of pressure off the top lip.
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jhatpro
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pretty interesting stuff. Thanks, guys!
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jaysonr
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Similar experience here. I used to be a traditional grip guy, all four fingers above 3rd slide, but I started experimenting. My default now is three up, pinky under (or along side) the 3rd slide...although sometimes, I grab the horn 2 up/2 down and that works well too, but my hand gets tired more quickly.

If I get tired, I can switch to 1 up/3 down and I get an instant boost of range/endurance, but I find it uncomfortable for all of my playing.
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homebilly
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the shocker grip myself
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connorbernhardmusic
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It absolutely does. I have experimented with it a lot and found the most comfortable and least strenuous way to hold the horn from the had all the way to the shoulder blade
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rufflicks
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you think it does then it does.
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trpt.hick
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depending on how many left fingers are above or below the third valve slide, mouthpiece pressure can be slightly shifted to the top or bottom lips, affecting range and endurance. Many people put too much pressure on the top lip, limiting their high range and sound. By moving one or two fingers below the third slide, the percentage of pressure shifts a little, often freeing up the top lip to vibrate better.

For some players, changes in finger(s) position makes no difference, but to many, it makes a noticeable difference. Just take a look at photos of many of the top lead players to see how they hold the horn with their left hand. I think you will find that most have one, two, or three fingers below the third slide. I have even seen four!

You can even purchase aftermarket bottom valve caps that extend the length of the valves by one or two inches, allowing a super low grip on the horn. I don't see these used very often, but they do work for some people.

Dave Hickman
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jhatpro
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot like golf in which, as in trumpet playing, perfection is an elusive goal with many paths and no guarantees.
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Richard III
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jhatpro wrote:
A lot like golf in which, as in trumpet playing, perfection is an elusive goal with many paths and no guarantees.


I got into an argument with a golf pro recently when I told him the standard golf swing doesn't make the most use of muscular power. He said it has to be that way because that's just the way it's done.
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TKSop
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Richard III wrote:
jhatpro wrote:
A lot like golf in which, as in trumpet playing, perfection is an elusive goal with many paths and no guarantees.


I got into an argument with a golf pro recently when I told him the standard golf swing doesn't make the most use of muscular power. He said it has to be that way because that's just the way it's done.


There can be s point at which a full belief in what you're doing it and how you're doing it (or how you think you are) can be a strength... Even if it's not quite optimal in some way/s.

To constantly question and experiment can lead to significant breakthroughs, but it can also undermine confidence in how you're currently doing things - lacking confidence can create problems that confidence alone would fix, but which the inquisitive mind goes seeking other answers to.
A good teacher keeps the student believing whilst pushing their boundaries in a way that they can have confidence will lead to progress - yet another positive to taking lessons.
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Danbassin
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most of the responses above have dealt with the comfort factor (important, but most instruments are somewhat awkward to hold at first) and the essential factor of how our left hand can position the horn - and thereby the mouthpiece - resulting in very strong preferences from many players.

Another important element heretofore not discussed is the role our left hand can play in the overall acoustic of the instrument. Many players will scoff at this, however the braces on our horns are quite strategically-placed, and their size, shape, density, and even materially have been carefully thought-out to achieve a desired outcome. Some designs are minimally-braced, some heavily so.

At the time of this writing, I'm in a run of The Magic Flute, which I'm performing on a Martin Schmidt rotary Bb. As an American, piston trumpets are far more familiar to me than rotaries, which means that the decision of where and how to grip the instrument brought me a new awareness of how awkward and non-intuitive how we hold our instruments can be.

The common element between our left-hand grip of the rotary and piston instruments is the question of where our pinkie goes somewhere, or if our pinkie and ring finger go there. As most trumpeters learn from watching their right-hand pinkie finger while fingering a chromatic line, the third and fourth fingers share a tendon, and therefore aren't great at being independent. This could also play a factor in one's comfort when choosing the 'two up, two down' method of holding a piston, or of only having their pinkie and thumb under the bell, while their first three fingers go over on a rotary.

This last factor on the rotary - how the fingers wrap around the bell - has a profound impact on the acoustic response, as well as some intonation elements, of the instrument. If you have watched Wynton Marsalis closely over the years, you may have noticed that his hand position has gradually changed, with his left thumb now high up on the 1st valve casing, and his left index finger curled over the bell (precariously close to the third piston!). As an experiment, wrap your hand around the bell in front of the valves, and play, then hold the horn however you think the 'correct' way should be, then play only with your right hand on the horn --- feels almost like three different horns, even if you take pains to keep the same angle on the mouthpiece.

That the valve casing (piston or rotary) takes up some of the largest real estate on the instrument, while also being an area of some of the greatest mass on the horn - the 'heart' of the instrument, as many would say - it's amazing to think how small the actual air column is throughout the valves. It's a necessary conundrum of our modern instrument's design, and it has real world implication when it comes to how we hold the instrument.

My final conclusion is to be deliberate with how you hold the horn, and keep these factors in mind. If you prefer a ringing, open feel - there will be a way to hold the instrument to realize that, if you prefer having something more to push against, there's a complementary position for that.

Happy practicing!

-DB
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Greenjazzguy
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ive been studying with Bill Lucas at the university of Michigan for a few years and we have both experimented with different grips and I think that the difference in playing between grips is mental. However, trumpet playing is very mental so there can be a difference in playing just from changing your grip. I also find when I use the "Maynard" Grip and set up like he does, Bringing my horn down from above my head with that beautiful big good breathe, the grip helps align my airway and helps open the ranger from G through c (high g-double c).

Just my thoughts!

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Brent
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:13 pm    Post subject: hand Reply with quote

Check out Joe Magnarelli here. How he grips his horn during the melody versus his solo changes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulkwmRoO6Lw

(Or, if you just want to marvel in his beautiful playing, that's okay, too)


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Turkle
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trpt.hick wrote:

You can even purchase aftermarket bottom valve caps that extend the length of the valves by one or two inches, allowing a super low grip on the horn. I don't see these used very often, but they do work for some people.


Yes - I use a 1" Curry heavy cap on my Yamaha for precisely this reason - it allows a comfortable grip on the horn under the valve block. I play "Vulcan" style - middle finger in the ring. I find it eliminates pressure on the top lip, important because I have an overbite. The long valve cap on the 3rd slide lets me comfortably and securely grip the horn with my fourth and fifth fingers. It improves slotting in the high register for me too, an added bonus.

I know that years ago when I switched my left hand grip to "vulcan" I noticed many things about my playing improve, particularly on those long gigs.
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