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Benny Brass
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2018 5:33 pm    Post subject: Pucker verses rolled under Reply with quote

I am a comeback player expirmenting with the puckered lip position, most of my early life I played with a basic rolled under ( no expert on embrochures by any means) ...I’ll always like Roy Hardgrove puckered style, and of course his elite sound speaks for itself. I notice when I employ the puckered technique I get this very nice sound especially low register to upper D” but after that i cannot stay in puckered position maintaining firm corners to go farther. I feel much more relaxed, less tension and it feels like my endurance would be enhanced. The rub to all this is trying to stay puckered while trying to achieve the higher range yet keeping tight corners seems impossible. I’d like to hear from those who use a puckered style for tips and or what I might be doing incorrect as my corners weaken at much above a D”.
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Bruce Haag
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2018 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Benny and welcome to the forum!

You didn't mention how long you've been back on the horn or how much you are practicing each day, but I would venture to say that you may simply lack the physical development to hold the "pucker" as you ascend into the upper register. Continued correct practice should bring the needed development over time.

In Systematic Approach, page 5, Claude says "When ascending to higher register, the lip should contract toward the mouthpiece." In the CG teacher's class, he corrected this statement somewhat and told us that the text should say to "contract the facial muscles toward the mouthpiece when ascending."

I think that it is really both the facial muscles and the lips that move forward in a gentle pucker, since they work together. The movement is very much like whistling. The corners of the mouth are slightly drawn towards the center and the lips move towards the mouthpiece. However, this is not to be overdone. It is a subtle thing.

More importantly, the wind power must increase in ascending and the tongue must rise in the front of the mouth, with the very tip kept lightly touching the top half of the lower teeth at all times.

Correct mouthpiece placement, 2/3 top lip, and a moist embouchure are also essential.

Once these items are set, then forget the lip! CG would almost throw you out of the studio if you mentioned the lips too much. Think more about the wind power and your tongue placement. The lips will take care of themselves. In time, these things will become automatic, and then you can focus more on the music. Thinking "internally" too much can get you into trouble! Stay goal oriented. Think about what is coming out the bell.

I hope that you will find these tips helpful and an aid to your progress.

All the best,
Bruce
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LSOfanboy
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bruce Haag wrote:
Hello Benny and welcome to the forum!

You didn't mention how long you've been back on the horn or how much you are practicing each day, but I would venture to say that you may simply lack the physical development to hold the "pucker" as you ascend into the upper register. Continued correct practice should bring the needed development over time.

In Systematic Approach, page 5, Claude says "When ascending to higher register, the lip should contract toward the mouthpiece." In the CG teacher's class, he corrected this statement somewhat and told us that the text should say to "contract the facial muscles toward the mouthpiece when ascending."

I think that it is really both the facial muscles and the lips that move forward in a gentle pucker, since they work together. The movement is very much like whistling. The corners of the mouth are slightly drawn towards the center and the lips move towards the mouthpiece. However, this is not to be overdone. It is a subtle thing.

More importantly, the wind power must increase in ascending and the tongue must rise in the front of the mouth, with the very tip kept lightly touching the top half of the lower teeth at all times.

Correct mouthpiece placement, 2/3 top lip, and a moist embouchure are also essential.

Once these items are set, then forget the lip! CG would almost throw you out of the studio if you mentioned the lips too much. Think more about the wind power and your tongue placement. The lips will take care of themselves. In time, these things will become automatic, and then you can focus more on the music. Thinking "internally" too much can get you into trouble! Stay goal oriented. Think about what is coming out the bell.

I hope that you will find these tips helpful and an aid to your progress.

All the best,
Bruce


To the OP,

This is advice from a proven player with many years of experience. It is certainly worth listening to and considering. I would say, however, that I disagree with the dogmatic nature of these instructions- Claude Gordon was a legendary teacher, but our understanding of physics and pedagogy has moved forward a great deal from his teaching days and there are myriad alternative approaches that other successful players have endorsed.

Our technical development is a very personal thing and requires some independent thought, and experimentation, to find out what works for us individually. I have played with many terrific players and, without exception, every single one has a 'unique' approach. Yes, there are many parallels and similarities between great players, but also a number of differences; it is something that requires figuring out for oneself.

I would highlight a couple of Bruce's points that I feel fall into category of 'personal preference' rather than essential hallmarks of good technique:

'Contraction of facial muscles when ascending': this is generally considered a good habit and is certainly worth bearing in mind. There are many amazing players who do not adhere to this, however, and forcing an action like this can sometimes hinder an individual if there dental and facial structure are not suited to it. Experiment!

'Tip of tongue lightly touching the lower teeth at all times': this is sometimes referred to as 'Anchor tonguing', 'K-tongue modified' or 'Dorsal tonguing' and was suggested by Herbert Clarke and then adopted into the Claude Gordon school. Many players (probably the majority) do not utilise this method of tonguing as it can feel cumbersome and/or restrictive. This is another area you should experiment with; some people take to this technique but they are in the (significant) minority. A personal decision.

'Mouthpiece placement 2/3 top lip': this is very individual and you will hear contradictory statements (I believe Arban suggests 1/3 top lip). Personally I seat the mouthpiece where it feels comfortable and the lip can vibrate most freely with the easiest production (for me its probably more like 1/4 top lip and 3/4 bottom but I don't analyse that element much), you'll have to find your own way- don't get hung up trying to place it in a position that simply inhibits good vibration just because you've been told a particular ratio with no scientific evidence to support it.

'A moist embouchure is essential': also individual. A large percentage of players utilise a 'dry-lip setting', I personally cannot play on wet lips and know many colleagues who are in the same boat. Equally, there are players who find it very hard to play without wetting the lips beforehand. Make your own judgement on what works best for you.

Good luck with it all.

I hope this post adds to the discussion and good nature of the thread.

All the best
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RussellDDixon
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

+1 ... YOU must experiment and find what works for you. My playing took off AFTER I went to a 10.5 inner diameter. Everyone is built different.
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I appreciate and respect the efforts put forward in the long post above by LSOfanboy, and it would certainly be appropriate in one of the general forums, criticizing Bruce and claiming he is being "dogmatic" about Claude Gordon material in the Claude Gordon dedicated forum, and further claiming that "our understanding of physics and pedagogy has moved forward a great deal from [Claude Gordon's] teaching days" is not appropriate in this forum, even if it were true (which it's not). For one thing, our understanding of Newtonian Physics (among those of us that are educated in Newtonian Physics) hasn't changed in hundreds of years (Relativistic Physics is another story). And I am not aware of any great changes in our general understanding of pedagogy and the mechanics involved in trumpet playing since Claude was alive - except for the now more widespread knowledge (due in great part to the internet) of the importance of tongue levels in brass playing and confirmation of the role of the tongue levels via modern X-ray and MRI studies, something that wasn't as widely known 25 years ago. In other words, the main change in our understanding is that more people now know what Claude knew and taught back in the day.

I wonder how it would go over if someone wrote similar critiques of say, Jerome Callet's ideas and teachings in the Callet Forum, or similar stuff in any of the other dedicated forums...

Lastly, regarding K-Tongue Modified tonguing, LSOfanboy is right - this is certainly something that the majority of (average) trumpet players do not do. But based on my own experience and research it is what the vast majority of superior players do. During my many years as a professional trumpet player, each and every time I asked the best players I had the privilege of working with how they tongue (with the tip or the way Claude taught me to), there were two answers:

1) They used K-Tongue modified, or

2) They had never really thought about it and after a few moments of paying attention and analyzing while playing, they concluded they use K-Tongue Modified.

None of the top level pro players I asked this question articulated with the tip of their tongue. I am not saying there are no great pro players who tongue with their tongue tips, but I didn't encounter them in all my years I asked the question.

The OP would do well to reread what Bruce wrote. It's good stuff.

Best wishes,

John Mohan
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bruce Haag wrote:
More importantly, the wind power must increase in ascending and the tongue must rise in the front of the mouth, with the very tip kept lightly touching the top half of the lower teeth at all times.


Absolutely true about the need for the wind power to increase and the tongue to rise in the front of the mouth (up and forward), and the tip to come into contact (lightly) with the backs of the front bottom teeth as one plays higher.

Just one point about the tongue tip and its contact with the backs of the bottom front teeth: Many players (I think most) who tongue with K-Tongue Modified (KTM) do not keep their tongue tip in constant contact with the backs of their bottom teeth when playing in the lower and middle registers (but the tongue tip does stay in the area behind the bottom front teeth).

Personally, when I am playing in the lower and middle registers, when I articulate I can feel my tongue tip come in contact with the backs of my bottom front teeth as I articulate the note (said articulation being caused by the front-middle portion of my tongue striking the area of my mouth just behind my front top teeth). As I sustain or slur notes in the lower and middle registers, my tongue tip is not in constant contact with the backs of my bottom front teeth. If I force my tongue to contact the backs of my bottom front teeth while sustaining or slurring notes in the lower and middle registers, my tongue then also comes into contact with my lower lip and significantly dulls my tone. I do feel my tongue maintain constant (light) contact with the backs of my bottom front teeth as I ascend into the High C range and above.

I have found the above to be true with all my students (at least all the ones with whom I have discussed this). I have also had several students who came to me who were having trouble with K-Tongue Modified and once I shared the above with them, those troubles disappeared when they stopped trying to keep their tongue tips in constant contact with the bottom front teeth when playing in the lower and middle registers.

As long as the tongue tip does not rise above the tops of the bottom front teeth, everything is fine.

Best wishes,

John Mohan
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LSOfanboy
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Mohan wrote:
While I appreciate and respect the efforts put forward in the long post above by LSOfanboy, and it would certainly be appropriate in one of the general forums, criticizing Bruce and claiming he is being "dogmatic"


Whilst I respect the points John makes, I would just like to point out my first two sentences clearly show respect for Bruce and there was no intention of criticising him personally. A reminder of what I wrote:

'This is advice from a proven player with many years of experience. It is certainly worth listening to and considering.'

I feel that is a very flattering and supportive statement and am a little stung that the rest of my post could be taken as criticism of Bruce personally.

My point was that many elements of our technique are individualistic and require some experimentation- NO teacher or player can simply give a one-size-fits-all appraisal, we all have far too much physical variation for that, and if such a panacea existed then we'd all be flawless technicians and there would only be one method book followed by students the world over.

All the best
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Bruce Haag
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In LSOfanboy's defense, I did not feel that he was being critical of me personally, and I felt that the tone of his post was respectful and that his points were nicely stated, though I don't agree with a lot of what he said..

Thank you John for your clarification of CG pedagogy, and you are right, this is the CG Forum where folks come to learn what Claude Gordon taught. This is what we do here. And yes, you are right again, the laws of nature have not changed. We all play by the same rules. Always have.

I have numerous reasons for being very specific or even "dogmatic" about my brass pedagogy. Over 2000 of them. That is roughly the number of private students that I've had the privilege of teaching and observing in the last 40 years. Beginner to professional level players. You learn a great deal when you teach others. Claude would tell you that.

Here is what I've observed regarding mouthpiece position. A little to the left or right of center does not seem to help nor hinder. One's teeth seem to dictate the most comfortable position in that respect. But those players who placed the mouthpiece high (roughly 2/3 top lip) have the biggest sound in all registers, the most endurance, and have the fewest troubles. Chris Botti is a great example. He places the mouthpiece way off to the the left but very high. It looks like more than 2/3's on the top lip. More like 3/4. What a sound he has! In all registers, and he has wonderful endurance too. No one should argue with the success he is having.

I personally moved my mouthpiece up 3 times in my career. Each time I did so things improved. The final position, with a healthy 2/3 on the top lip, now feels and works better than ever. Really stable and solid. Much bigger sound.

If a student comes in with a low mouthpiece placement, I start working with him immediately to move it up. Sometimes it is an easy change. Sometimes it takes a while, even a couple of months. A lot depends upon how motivated the student is. In every case the student develops a bigger sound, a freer vibration and more embouchure security. And they agree that it was worth the effort to make the change. The number of students who have moved their mouthpiece up numbers in the hundreds.

The French horn method books are unanimous in stating that a high position is most effective. The horn mouthpiece is so narrow that anything but a correct position simply does not work well at all. This proves the point that the top lip does most of the vibrating. It's just the way we are made. The rim sets right upon the red of the lower lip with horn players.

Study pictures of great players like Arturo, Harry James, Clifford Brown, James Morrison, and so many others, and see that they use a healthy amount of top lip. With Maynard, you could see that big red ring on his top lip after he played, and it was way up there!

With many players who appear to have a 50/50 setting, when they take the horn down you can see a kind of divot in their top lip that protrudes downward and gives them more "meat" in the cup than it appears while playing.

In the original text of his great book, (not in some of the revised versions) Saint Jacomes stated: "The lips are divided in the mouthpiece into two unequal parts: two-thirds for the upper and the rest for the under according to all professors [emphasis mine] and one third for the upper and two-thirds for the lower according to one sole individual, whom I shall not name." Saint Jake was no doubt referring to the Arban's text. It looks like they were not the best of friends and were both "vying for crown" of being cornet king in France.

Editors of the later editions changed Saint Jacome's text to state the exact opposite of what he originally stated. So when Claude edited the Saint Jacome's Method for Carl Fischer, he restored the text to the original correct text.

So Arban was evidently in the minority with his position on placing the mouthpiece 2/3 on the lower. Yet for unknown reasons his text has come more to the forefront.

Two of my trumpet friends did a little experiment regarding this. Both are fine players. While one of them buzzed a mouthpiece, the other carefully inserted a drinking straw up the shank until it touched the lower lip. Nothing happened. But when the straw touched the top lip the vibration stopped. Interesting to say the least.

I will address the other points discussed here at another time. It's getting late.

All the best,
Bruce
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Last edited by Bruce Haag on Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Old French Model
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
In the original text of his great book, (not in some of the revised versions) Saint Jacomes stated: "The lips are divided in the mouthpiece into two unequal parts: two-thirds for the upper and the rest for the under according to all professors [emphasis mine] and one third for the upper and two-thirds for the lower according to one sole individual, whom I shall not name." Saint Jake was no doubt referring to the Arban's text. It looks like they were not the best of friends and were both "vying for crown" of being cornet king in France. 


Hello Bruce,

Saint-Jacome was absolutely incorrect in his assertion that “all professors” agreed with him. Another contemporary of his was Professor Merri Franquin, Head of the Paris Conservatory, whose influence on French teaching and in particular on Maurice Andre, was probably stronger than that of Saint-Jacome.

Franquin says the following (my translation from original text):

“There is no precise rule as to where the mouthpiece should be placed on the lips. Arban prefers 2/3 on the lower lip and Forestier 2/3 on the upper lip. But both of them admit there can be exceptions. It is my view that the position depends largely on the structure of the individual player’s mouth and teeth. However, if there are no indications from these factors, the horizontal position should be centered in the middle of the lips with 2/3 on the lower lip as the preferred position.”

I understand from a few former students that Franquin’s teaching is very influential at The Eastman School of Music in New York. So there must be a very good translation in English. It is a fundamental resource even if Arban is better known in the USA.

I am challenging Saint-Jacome here and neither Mr Gordon nor yourself. Your results in teaching many students speak for themselves. Nevertheless, I believe that Franquin is correct when he says “the position depends largely on the structure of the individual player’s mouth and teeth” and that there is no general or absolute Rule governing the matter.Your citing of Botti's unusual horizontal position, way to the left of his lips, is a good example of this fact.

Cheers
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Bruce Haag
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Old French Model for your information on Saint Jacome and Franquin. That is interesting! (Why can't we all all use our real names on these forums? It seems silly calling someone "Old French Model")

I have looked at numerous pictures of Andre and it appears that he used a very healthy amount of top lip when viewed from the side. It doesn't look like he is following Franquin's advice on mouthpiece placement! It should also be noted from the picture in the 4th link below, a simple face shot, that his top lip dips down in the middle like many players have who have spent a lot of their life with a trumpet on their face.. Claude had that too. So..... there is even more "meat" in the cup than appears from the outside view with Andre..

My point in all this is to simply point out that a higher mouthpiece position results for a freer vibration and a fuller sound. I have yet to see one player who got a thinner sound after he adjusted to the higher position. It has always resulted in a fuller sound.

My original comment on the left/right placement was not well phrased. I should have stated that some player's teeth and mouth formation dictate a mouthpiece placement a little off to one side. This is what I believe and teach.

Here are the links to the Andre photos:

http://is3.mzstatic.com/image/thumb/Music/v4/d1/c0/c0/d1c0c020-da8f-4814-2995-5cee3ccfa7dc/source/1200x630bf.jpg

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0327/9089/products/Maurice_Andre_M5803-2_WM_1024x1024.jpg?v=1522952397

http://images.sudouest.fr/2017/01/19/5880265766a4bd4232f1465d/golden/maurice-andre-et-son-fils-nicolas-lors-dun-concert-a-beziers.jpg

http://www.apesound.de/out/pictures/master/product/1/andrex.jpg

All the best,
Bruce
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Last edited by Bruce Haag on Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:33 am; edited 4 times in total
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cbclead
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I go back to this video a lot as there are many good points to take from it, but Wayne specifically addresses embouchure and pucker at about 6:25.


Link

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really appreciate Bruce's replies and attitude; proof that two people can have differences of opinions whilst still engaging with respect and courtesy.

Firstly, I must confess I had not originally realised this thread was specifically in the Gordon forum, if I had I probably would have left it to the Gordon guys to reply. Since I am engaged now I shall continue.

Secondly; I don't disagree with a lot of what John and Bruce have said, they are both proven and successful players and are (like many others) a testament to Gordon's teaching and approach. I maintain my original comment that the OP (and anyone else interested) should take notice of what the pair have to say and experiment with it. My point has consistently been, however, that there is huge variation between players and there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. Bruce and John may find hundreds of examples of great players displaying elements of the Gordon approach, but equally I could find hundreds of successful players who play in a manner that breaks some or all of those rules. The same goes for students. I am not saying that we should discount the opinion of either Bruce or John, in fact I'm saying the opposite, but I am saying that using individual thought and experimentation is important too and that I have seen many a student suffer because they have been deemed 'unconventional' and told to follow a certain approach which is clearly detrimental to their playing.

Finally, on the subject of science, I wholeheartedly disagree that [paraphrased] 'our understanding of science has not advanced since the Gordon books were written'. From a macro perspective science has advanced rapidly since the publication of those books, and in a more specific context we have seen vast gains in knowledge regarding acoustics, trumpet design, and physical and psychological health. This is a fact. What is more, I have never heard Gordon discussing standing waves, acoustic impedance or offering a genuine scientific explanation for the process behind lip vibration. This is not a criticism of Gordon, it is simply a result of the era in which he lived. I don't think it is a tenable argument to suggest that Gordon had access to all the scientific knowledge we now possess. (Whether you deem that information necessary to playing the instrument is another matter).

I hope these comments prove useful and respectful within the discussion.

All the best
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LSOfanboy wrote:
Firstly, I must confess I had not originally realised this thread was specifically in the Gordon forum, if I had I probably would have left it to the Gordon guys to reply.


Ha! Actually, I was wondering about that, as I have done the same in the past. I didn't at all mean to imply that you were disrespectful to Bruce. Your criticism of Bruce was respectful - I just didn't think it was appropriate to do that in a dedicated forum (which we now know you did not mean to do).

Cheers,

John
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lambchop
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bruce Haag wrote:
" In the CG teacher's class, he corrected this statement somewhat and told us that the text should say to "contract the facial muscles toward the mouthpiece when ascending."

I think that it is really both the facial muscles and the lips that move forward in a gentle pucker, since they work together. The movement is very much like whistling. The corners of the mouth are slightly drawn towards the center and the lips move towards the mouthpiece. However, this is not to be overdone. It is a subtle thing.

More importantly, the wind power must increase in ascending and the tongue must rise in the front of the mouth, with the very tip kept lightly touching the top half of the lower teeth at all times.


I found those CG statements somewhat ambiguous, but your explanation helps. I think it means that lip and facial muscles contract toward the center axis of the trumpet and mouthpiece. It was unclear to me if it means if lips are supposed to move forward away from the teeth toward the mouthpiece - relative to a vertical plane on the end of the mouthpiece. It sounds like you are saying this is the case also. If so, that sort of conflicts with other descriptions where one draws the lips in a bit toward the teeth when going higher. It seems like I'm pulling in the lower lip some going higher and rolling it out a bit going below middle C sort of like the Irons book description. What do you think?
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Bruce Haag
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those are some meaty questions lambchop. I try not to get too analytical when playing or teaching. Try to keep it simple. It's really just like the movements of the lips and facial muscles when whistling, only a lot more subtle. I don't think about it all the time. Just make sure that you avoid stretching or smiling movements when ascending. Think forward. The picture on the old yellow cover CG Systematic Approach book shows Claude playing and you can see it in his facial structure.

Wayne Bergeron really nails it in that video posted earlier.

I wouldn't think that the lips actually move away from the teeth. The pressure of the horn on the face keeps that from happening.

As Irons mentions, the lower lip does roll in a little when ascending and rolls back out when descending, but this happens quite naturally for most players, and again, should not be over-thought. I don't think about that at all. In general, the less you think about your lips, the better off you'll be. Do not become overly lip conscious! Like Clarke said in that letter to Claude, "the lips only act as a vibrating medium." It is much more productive to think about the items that make the horn play, the wind power and the tongue level. Claude would practically yell at you if you brought the subject of the lips up in a lesson. He would always say (or yell if needed): "Forget the lip!" He just made sure you placed the mouthpiece high and played wet, and rested when you got tired. That's about it. Like I said, keep it simple.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Bruce
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stickyvalves5900
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My problem was applying too much of a pucker as I attempted the upper register. The movement of the lips towards the mouthpiece is really quite subtle I think.
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