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Avoiding counter-productive conventional thinking.



 
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Lionel
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 7:58 am    Post subject: Avoiding counter-productive conventional thinking. Reply with quote

Am pleased to report that my fairly recent return to an experimental embouchure is paying good dividends. Since I've been getting carried away with long posts so often I will try to forgo describing the specifics unless someone asks. As well as omitting the background history. Other than to just say that for now I've shelved my embouchure experiment of 2018 - 2019 and returned to the experiment I'd been working on feverishly back in the 2000 thru 2010 decade. Salient points,

1. Have made rapid progress since last Thanksgiving.
A. Practice room range extends above DHC and shows good ease of production.
B. High notes show good tendency to play shakes or trills.
C. Volume while somewhat less than outstanding yet is increasing nicely.

2. Concentrating on notes between tuning pitch concert B flat to concert pitch F/High C seems to deliver better results than lower register practice.
A. Am avoiding lots of articulation exercises in lieu of firming up strong mouth corners and volume development.
B. Volume development between tuning note and High F yields better results than traditional lower register long tones that encourage an overly loose, flabby embouchure. As per Reinhardt.
C. Unlike my former experiment I'm not playing pedal tones.

3. Continued avoidance of conventional thinking.
A. As explained above, am not playing lots of loud, lower register tones. Instead developing consistent and sustained upper register tones. Even extreme upper register notes. Although these do not make up a majority of my practice time.
B. I feel that while developing a new embouchure or a beginning player going through similar development that our conventional instructional books that emphasize tonguing first are counter-productive to most trumpet player's embouchure development.
C. Excessive articulation on a "baby" embouchure is often unhelpful and tends to lead to the stunted range typical of the majority. .
D. A "heavy one day, light the next" is very helpful. Sometimes going, "heavy, light, light. heavy, light, light," is superior to systained, day after day pushing myself too far.

"Practicing smart, not hard".

Much of the embouchure specifics I'm using can be found in the work of Roy Stevens. I just may return to community band practice sessions soon. Although if this stresses the new chop position I may yet lay out for another several months.

Over all am in very good spirits. Especially since experiencing the blues from my apparently failed 2018 - 2019 embouchure change adventure. That became a nightmare last summer. As the more I worked on it? The more everything deteriorated. I'd never before gone through such a severe breakdown in performance.

Onward to the future! Looking forward to getting that High C to DHC octave "easy as pie" to produce. I've been at this stage of development before so my current situation is not a tentative feeling. It really is all starting to work out nicely..

Soon will concentrate on getting a good "sizzle" on high notes for lead playing. I don't want to be another "mosquito player".

That's all for now.
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must just be a little lost, but where in the above text are you explaining "Avoiding counter-productive conventional thinking". Thanks.
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Lionel
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kehaulani wrote:
I must just be a little lost, but where in the above text are you explaining "Avoiding counter-productive conventional thinking". Thanks.


It could have been emphasized better. However there's at least a couple references to the avoidance of lots of loud, lower register playing. As well as avoiding excessive articulation.

These two references are either basic to the Stevens-Costello system or the result I've found by applying Stevens concepts. And I believe that my remarks favoring Reinhardt state to avoid a "loose, flabby embouchure". This parallels Roy Stevens. He who back in the day had thoughts similar to Reinhardt's "Type IVA" embouchure.

Stevens and Reinhardt were competitors however.

My feeling is that while certainly some people have succeeded by following standard methods which include devrloping tones of lower register articulation that these are among the thinnest minority. That some players are blessed with such vibrant embouchure flesh. That is so well positioned by nature to produce great results that they would succeed without few if any of the concerns I've mentioned.

Most the rest of us however will struggle. Over the years I've been experimenting not only with the Stevens System but some ideas of my own and others. And my general conclusion is that in order to attain extreme range the average player will probably need to adopt embouchure concepts considerably different than what he's already using. To follow "conventional thinking" will just keep producing what we've been producing.
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"It is surprising how skilled you can become on a very limited (trumpet) embouchure and how many years you can play on that and then how difficult it is to correct that once you find that it is tremendously limited". Bill Moriarty, 2005
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Seymor B Fudd
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 06, 2020 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lionel wrote:
kehaulani wrote:
I must just be a little lost, but where in the above text are you explaining "Avoiding counter-productive conventional thinking". Thanks.


It could have been emphasized better. However there's at least a couple references to the avoidance of lots of loud, lower register playing. As well as avoiding excessive articulation.

These two references are either basic to the Stevens-Costello system or the result I've found by applying Stevens concepts. And I believe that my remarks favoring Reinhardt state to avoid a "loose, flabby embouchure". This parallels Roy Stevens. He who back in the day had thoughts similar to Reinhardt's "Type IVA" embouchure.

Stevens and Reinhardt were competitors however.
My feeling is that while certainly some people have succeeded by following standard methods which include devrloping tones of lower register articulation that these are among the thinnest minority. That some players are blessed with such vibrant embouchure flesh. That is so well positioned by nature to produce great results that they would succeed without few if any of the concerns I've mentioned.

Most the rest of us however will struggle. Over the years I've been experimenting not only with the Stevens System but some ideas of my own and others. And my general conclusion is that in order to attain extreme range the average player will probably need to adopt embouchure concepts considerably different than what he's already using. To follow "conventional thinking" will just keep producing what we've been producing.


Just a comment! Pedals, double pedals played the BE way are not to be played "flabby". Instead one should strive for sort of "collecting" the necessary muscle tension to the muscles under your nose. If I may state it like that.
"loose, flabby embouchure" amounts to a smiling embouchure and that is not what, in this case mr Smiley advocates, in spite of his name.
And of course " lots of loud, lower register" is detrimental" - the( double) pedal register should be played with "style" and, common sense.
Might add that many schools could be used in a "sectarian" manner - while the BE method is the opposite of that!
And of course dear Lionel - you for certain seem to be a very open-minded fellow - sing Hooray for Captain Lionel!
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Last edited by Seymor B Fudd on Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 06, 2020 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course one goes through a lot of self-exploration and, if the results benefit you, go for it.

But I would like to point out that one reason conventional methods have been used so widespread is because for most of players, it has proven productive. To go against it with positive results does not negate its value. Additionally, Stevens, while reasonably well known, is not widespread . . for a reason.

That does not equal conventional thinking being counter-productive.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The basic core of 'conventional thinking' is usually quite good for the majority of people.

Trouble often happens due to misunderstanding of what that 'core' really entails.

I think that often, students 'latch on' to some 'neat sounding' terminology that a teacher uses, but the actual technique is actually very different than the terminology seems to imply. Don't get too attached to the words them self - the goal should be to understand what the words are trying to describe, and what actions are really associated with the words.

Jay
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Tpt_Guy
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 06, 2020 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kehaulani wrote:
That does not equal conventional thinking being counter-productive.


This is likely not what he means.

If players were plotted on a bell curve as to what methods work best for them, or at least get good results, conventional methods would be seen to work for the majority of players. Those on either end of the bell curve not so much.

In such cases, conventional methods, or aspects of them, may actually be counter-productive.

I believe this is what he is talking about: they are counter-productive in his case.
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Lionel
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2020 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It just dawned on me what I believe is a good example of conventional thinking producing a stymie in the beginning trumpet player's development. I'd already mentioned the excessive emphasis upon practicing very defined articulation but now I'd like to add to this description.

The young trumpet player usually finds that he needs to re-set his embouchure in order to execute notes above the tuning note. This is because conventional teaching patterns started him out playing notes in the lower register. Including tones like E natural 1&2nd valves down to low C open. It is exactly this loose open lipped embouchure setting that causes future range development problems.

Roy Stevens noticed this although his strategy for beginners may seem a bit strange. He actually started all of his beginners on a high C! While I get what he was doing many here probably would not. Stevens was making sure that his student's chops initially had no range limitations.

However when we look at the student who purposely loosens his chops in order to blow the prescribed low tones common to traditional trumpet methods he is usually gearing his embouchure too low in pitch. And when he begins to articulate these notes with lots of definition he may even loosen his chop setting even more.

Instead he ought to be setting higher and not concerning himself with articulation at first. Not until he develops the fluency to easily blow notes above the staff. In time as he gets more control over his embouchure he can gradually work his way down to low F# but only as his mouth corners and embouchure function remains firm and well coordinated.

Ive found this very helpful in my latest incarnation of the Stevens System. In fact at first I've been using breath attacks instead of hard tonguing attacks. The result being much more beneficial. As the breath attacks are less disturbing to the new embouchure. In time as my new embouchure feels more secure I add a lightly tongued attack. Still later even harder of attacks. Yet at the more advanced level my chops won't fall apart under the more accentuated articulation.

I seem to remember a similar happenstance during my younger days right after I started developing some powerful high notes. I was about age sixteen then. As I ascended well above high C at first I could only use a breath attack. I had to "slide around" a lot when changing pitches. However as I got stronger I started gradually adding tongued attacks. Until I could articulate well throughout my entire range.
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"It is surprising how skilled you can become on a very limited (trumpet) embouchure and how many years you can play on that and then how difficult it is to correct that once you find that it is tremendously limited". Bill Moriarty, 2005
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2020 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lionel wrote:
... This is because conventional teaching patterns started him out playing notes in the lower register. Including tones like E natural 1&2nd valves down to low C open. It is exactly this loose open lipped embouchure setting that causes future range development problems. ...

-------------------------------------
Yes, starting beginners in the lower register is the conventional way - I think primarily because those notes are usually the ones most accessible to beginners.

I doubt that many teachers of the 'conventional way' believe (or use them self), that same embouchure tension and position for higher range playing. So the teachers likely do 'know better'.
And the conventional teaching pattern of slowly upward increasing the student's range is reasonable - provided that there is actual TEACHING (or whatever type of guidance gives good results) of how the embouchure must be adjusted.

But unfortunately, I think many beginners are left on their own to make embouchure adjustments. And it's easy to discover that 'tight smiling lips' or 'forced mouthpiece pressure' seems to work - at least for a while.

Jay
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King Super 20 (S2 1048, HN White)
Bach 7
The 'next note' is the most important one.
Don't take a '20 minute mouthpiece' to a 1 hour session.
Looking out my backdoor
http://www.pronetisp.net/~jkosta/2020_May_31_web.jpg
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Lionel
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JayKosta wrote:
Lionel wrote:
... This is because conventional teaching patterns started him out playing notes in the lower register. Including tones like E natural 1&2nd valves down to low C open. It is exactly this loose open lipped embouchure setting that causes future range development problems. ...

-------------------------------------
Yes, starting beginners in the lower register is the conventional way - I think primarily because those notes are usually the ones most accessible to beginners.

I doubt that many teachers of the 'conventional way' believe (or use them self), that same embouchure tension and position for higher range playing. So the teachers likely do 'know better'.
And the conventional teaching pattern of slowly upward increasing the student's range is reasonable - provided that there is actual TEACHING (or whatever type of guidance gives good results) of how the embouchure must be adjusted.

But unfortunately, I think many beginners are left on their own to make embouchure adjustments. And it's easy to discover that 'tight smiling lips' or 'forced mouthpiece pressure' seems to work - at least for a while.

Jay


It's kinda true that the lower tones are easiest. As such a typical band director or even a private teacher may be inclined to promote the production of these low notes in order to produce some kind of ensemble concert that the parents of the kids will appreciate at the end of the semester or school year. In fact his job may depend upon producing a half decent sounding band which stays in the lower register. Similarly the emphasis upon distinct articulation is promoted for the same reason.

However if we go by the guide of Roy Stevens system we find the above two tendencies to be anathema to the young trumpet player's development of good range.

As a teenager I used to marvel at the technical ability of my friends playing clarinet and other reeds. As they all had superior technique when compared to the trumpet players like myself. Stevens system advocate Dr Bill Moriarty describes the reason for the greater technique found in reed players (as compared to trumpets) due to the fact that the reed players all know the correct way to set their reeds and ligature. Whereas these comparable features in a brass player are not so easily present or easily seen. The comparable "ligature" and "reed" in a trumpet player actually exist inside his mouth unseen from.the outside. These having to do with the relative position of the upper lip (or "reed" ) relative to the teeth (or "ligature").

Stevens would demand that all his students observe the proper positioning of these elements well before they first formed an embouchure. THEN by starting his beginners out in the octave between high C and double C the production of these tones was scientific proof that the young player had formed his embouchure CORRECTLY. He then swiftly excelled at trumpet. Far exceeding the skills present in his traditionally taught peers.

All well and good but what about me? Why didn't I catch on the the Stevens system forty plus years ago?

I think that I finally found an answer to that question. See as good of a program of development that Roy Stevens had his method still lacked a few principles that a significant percentage of trumpet players need in order to pull off the extreme range found in the Stevens method. In my case it was only recently and after many tears of trial and error that I discovered those physical elements missing from Stevens and that I needed to apply to my own chops.

And son of a gun I'm finally pulling it off!!!. A long story. That said now that my chops have latched securely on to the particulars formerly missing from the Stevens Costello system I'm now improving by leaps and bounds. In fact it was only last night that I discovered that I'd FINALLY caught on. After decades and decades of trial & error.

More later folks. I'm still trying to absorb the significance of all of this.
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"It is surprising how skilled you can become on a very limited (trumpet) embouchure and how many years you can play on that and then how difficult it is to correct that once you find that it is tremendously limited". Bill Moriarty, 2005
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