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Proper piccolo trumpet technique


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jdbrooks1952
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 12:55 pm    Post subject: Proper piccolo trumpet technique Reply with quote

I pulled out my recently purchased 4 valve Kanstul piccolo trumpet. Wanted to get some feedback on proper play techniques, as I understand you have to approach the piccolo differently than the trumpet or flugel that I am used to playing.

I would appreciate any feedback.

Thanks, JD
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chrisf3000
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most times that I've seen people approach the piccolo "wrong", it's because they try to put way too much air through it. It does not need to be played like a lead player does with a regular Bb trumpet. In fact, the best advice I can give is to use small puffs of air with a crisp articulation - blow "at" the piccolo, not "through" it, if that makes sense.

Also, a good mouthpiece helps - usually a Bach 7E is a good place to start, if you don't have something comparable. A 3C or the like won't cut it necessarily, plus the 7E I believe comes with a 117 piccolo trumpet backbore built in. Just remember, small puffs of air go a long way on the piccolo.
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jdbrooks1952
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Appreciate that great advice. I have a Bach 3E that I have been using. I'll consider looking at the 7E
Thanks much,

JD
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trpthrld
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a while, Trent Austin was making and posting a terrific series of videos on how to play the trumpet better. Search You Tube.

One exceptionally excellent one was on piccolo trumpet. In it, he says to "take a 'conversational breath' when playing picc."

Of all the bits of advice I've seen and been given about playing picc, that one right there was the best.

Worth checking out.

But the BEST advice would be to get with a teacher who is not only a solid picc player but also a solid picc teacher (there is a difference). That will do you much more good than any comment on this thread, mine included.

Except for the part about getting with a solid teacher.
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jdbrooks1952
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 3:25 pm    Post subject: Trent Austin youtube classes Reply with quote

Just watched one of his mini-lessons. I'm going to enjoy Trent's classes. Subscribed and ready to take on his knowledge.

It will be a challenge to find someone in the St. Louis area that is both a good piccolo player and a good teacher. Especially during Covid.

Thank you
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trpthrld
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would think the St. Louis, with the symphony orchestra & such, would be very easy to find a good teacher.

Don't let the virus get in your way. Even tho I am not an advocate of Skype lessons they are better than nothing.
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Lionel
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 5:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Proper piccolo trumpet technique Reply with quote

jdbrooks1952 wrote:
I pulled out my recently purchased 4 valve Kanstul piccolo trumpet. Wanted to get some feedback on proper play techniques, as I understand you have to approach the piccolo differently than the trumpet or flugel that I am used to playing.

I would appreciate any feedback.

Thanks, JD


Get used to lots of soft playing. It's a whole another world once you switch away from the B flat and branch off into the pitched horns. Practice soft playing first on your main instrument. Which is usually the B flat but it could be the C tpt too.

As per high notes?

If it isn't on your B flat it probably won't be on your Pic either. Herbert L Clarke published some excellent chromatic range exercises. Hmm let's see. Maybe I've got a page number:... Oh well it'll turn up later. Is in the back of his "Clarke Technical Studies". Essentially they culminate in a series of very fast and PP volume chromatic scales starting on Low G rising all the way to G/High C and then back down chromatically to Low G. Then practice until you've got it 4x in a breath. Yeah it's demanding.

One other thing: Take note how EASY it looks when a good Piccollo trumpet player blows an extended passage. Like something really high such as Bach's "Brandenburg No II". Such as this cat:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1BEDBsSDJw

In a way this is pretty much the ONLY way to play high notes on the Pic. Because if you've gotta strain to play a specific high note? Then you're either not in shape or there is a dysfunction in your embouchure that won't allow high note production.

There actually was a better example of the great ease of playing that I'm thinking of than the Youtube clip presented above. That one involves an older man playing the Brandenburg II where the camera focussed more on him than the other musicians. Man that guy wasn't even breathing hard!

Compare that with a powerful lead trumpet cat who gets that cool "sizzle" in his sound. He'll be working! You just can't blow a sizzling fat G over High C without working a little. I know some Jazz lead players who don't exactly sizzle so they use microphones. Theirs is a whole different genre of music.

In summation: The Piccollo Trumpet is an instrument that responds well to light playing. You can't jam it. Doubt me? Just try it sometime. It'll sound awful and totally out of context for the music involved. I consider the Pic to represent a real dividing line in-between the two categories of commercial lead trumpet playing and pro classical music. Some can not do both. You'll find powerful, sizzling lead trumpet players who can't pull it off on the Pic. That and Classical players who can't get a truly big sound upstairs on the B flat. Like is desired in lead commercial performances. In the studio they'll do okay though.
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deleted_user_02066fd
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not being a classical player I've only played the picc a few times. I likened it to blowing into a soda bottle. I took a big breath and played something and the sound shut off.
The advice of backing off sounds like the way to go. Have fun with it.
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chrisf3000
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the way, I just checked the Bach mouthpiece manual. It seems that all 'E' cup mouthpieces come with the 117 backbore built in, so you should be good to go as long as the rim feels right to you. Good luck and let us know your findings!
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Subtropical and Subpar
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 7:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Trent Austin youtube classes Reply with quote

jdbrooks1952 wrote:
Just watched one of his mini-lessons. I'm going to enjoy Trent's classes. Subscribed and ready to take on his knowledge.

It will be a challenge to find someone in the St. Louis area that is both a good piccolo player and a good teacher. Especially during Covid.

Thank you


Hey, it's only 250 miles to Trent's store in Kansas City!
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dr_trumpet
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jdbrooks1952 wrote:
Appreciate that great advice. I have a Bach 3E that I have been using. I'll consider looking at the 7E
Thanks much,

JD


Be sure to use a cornet shank lead pipe and mouthpiece. The Kanstul piccolo plays better with them. I went from a 3C with a 117 to a 7E with a 117 a few years ago, and while I prefer the 3C/117 for a few things, 90% + of the music I am playing, including the Messiah this Christmas (December 2020) and the Torelli Concerto in D (November 2020) were done on the 7E/117. I prefer the gold one I have, but of the two with cornet shanks that I have, they are both quite usable.

IF you cannot find a cornet shank lead pipe, Osmun makes them for the Kanstul. I have one... they are great lead pipes.

Hope this helps!

AL
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dr_trumpet
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 7:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Trent Austin youtube classes Reply with quote

jdbrooks1952 wrote:
Just watched one of his mini-lessons. I'm going to enjoy Trent's classes. Subscribed and ready to take on his knowledge.

It will be a challenge to find someone in the St. Louis area that is both a good piccolo player and a good teacher. Especially during Covid.

Thank you


Zoom lessons work well also. Not the same as live, but very close.
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cgaiii
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2021 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dr_trumpet wrote:

IF you cannot find a cornet shank lead pipe, Osmun makes them for the Kanstul. I have one... they are great lead pipes.

AL

My Kanstul 920 came with the cornet leadpipes and a Kastul P mouthpiece. Usually if you wanted the trumpet mouthpiece leadpipes you had to get them separately. The Kanstul P mouthpiece is tiny but it plays well with the horn. I have a Bach 7E too, but I tend to prefer the Kanstul P.
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HaveTrumpetWillTravel
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2021 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some things that helped me:
(1) a forum member sent me a beginner trumpet text that is all low range quarter notes and was helpful
(2) doing at least one lesson with someone who really knows it
(3) a lot of music is written for professionals with a range above C. If you are new to it, I found it helpful to work on fingerings and fourth valve with music that doesn't go up to C. This means learning to play regular music as written rather than just piccolo music which is often written down an octave.
(4) buying some of the main textbooks (Hickman).

I am not great on piccolo by any means, but enjoy it. There's debate about whether it's just a waste of time if you're not really planning to play it regularly. I did find it to be a fun break and to help me work on several major problems I have (intonation, straining, etc.). At the same time I also bought a couple of lead mouthpieces, so it was a help also in learning to play shallower mps.
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JoseLindE4
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2021 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sound concept is key, so listen to the greats, starting with Maurice Andre. Listening to the great baroque/natural trumpet players can provide a nice contrasting sound concept as well.

In my head, I hear my Bb/C as a great male singer like Dietrich Fischer Diskeau; my D/Eb is Barbara Bonney; and my piccolo is Renee Fleming.

Or, the big horns are chest voice and the piccolo is head voice.

If you don’t start with the proper sound concept, the “right technique” won’t produce worthwhile results. Technique and approach matters, but only when paired with concept.

Keep it light and easy. I like to start by producing the most easy and beautiful F above middle C (first valve on the A side, not the 1-4 below it) and work out both ways from there, maintaining the sound and ease. Turn on the Maurice Andre in your head and work on simple scales, arpeggios, and melodies, alternating singing and playing. The Arban/Maire high note exercises have always been my get back in piccolo shape exercises.

Intonation can be a challenge, so practice some with a drone pitch to keep you honest and don’t be afraid to try alternate fingerings. The fourth valve adds some useful options.

It’s ok to step on the gas sometimes, but you need to learn to control the horn with a light touch.
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dr_trumpet
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2021 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cgaiii wrote:
dr_trumpet wrote:

IF you cannot find a cornet shank lead pipe, Osmun makes them for the Kanstul. I have one... they are great lead pipes.

AL

My Kanstul 920 came with the cornet leadpipes and a Kastul P mouthpiece. Usually if you wanted the trumpet mouthpiece leadpipes you had to get them separately. The Kanstul P mouthpiece is tiny but it plays well with the horn. I have a Bach 7E too, but I tend to prefer the Kanstul P.


Mine came with both when I bought it, but I never warmed up to the trumpet shank one. Clifford Blackburn made a set for me that took a trumpet shank, but they were designed for the shortened, Warburton made Blackburn piccolo trumpet shanks that are much shorter than a standard Bb trumpet mouthpiece. My experience with the Kanstul mouthpiece was not good 30+ years ago. I will have to dig mine out and try it again!

All my best,

AL
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dr_trumpet
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2021 9:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Proper piccolo trumpet technique Reply with quote

jdbrooks1952 wrote:
I pulled out my recently purchased 4 valve Kanstul piccolo trumpet. Wanted to get some feedback on proper play techniques, as I understand you have to approach the piccolo differently than the trumpet or flugel that I am used to playing.

I would appreciate any feedback.

Thanks, JD


Getchell's First Book of Practical Studies played as though they are in the key of the piccolo, are an excellent set of first studies on the piccolo. Think singing and floating, not muscle and force. The piccolo does bite back! See notes below about articulation. Also, find your best method to hold the instrument. This is essential as modern piccolo trumpet come with far more pitch alteration mechanisms than even the Selmer and Mahillon piccolos did, and holding the horn so that you can make those all work is essential.

After that, some easier level literature (Viviani, Purcell, et al.) is a good second step, as well as the Webster and Hickman books. Floating, André-like sound, relaxed full air that supports but DOES NOT force, a light articulation that doesn't come out as harsh or crass (piccolo can do that with a smaller horn, which amplifies harsh articulations). Work intervals for tuning, become fluent in D and E major on the Bb piccolo and Eb and F major on the A piccolo. These keys are ones that are frequently used in piccolo literature and works you will play often.

Eventually, keep adding literature until you work into the orchestral repertoire and advanced solo literature. Don't start with Michael Haydn, Bach's Brandenburg #2, or similar literature. Find works that build your skills and your confidence, and can be played in a variety of settings (church, recital, concert, wedding, etc.). These "multi-use" works can pay the bills and at the same time continue to build your control and ease with the piccolo.

I hope these ideas help. Feel free to contact me if I can offer more.

AL
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abontrumpet
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2021 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JoseLindE4 wrote:
Sound concept is key, so listen to the greats, starting with Maurice Andre. Listening to the great baroque/natural trumpet players can provide a nice contrasting sound concept as well.


This is basically it. Get a picc mouthpiece as others mentioned but then LISTEN to great picc players.

It's like the difference between flugel and trumpet or orchestral and lead playing. Essentially, you play the trumpet the "same" and then you go for a different sound. The rest will fall in line. If you try and play smaller or softer or "back off" etc., chances are you will do too much of it. Just play the trumpet like you play the trumpet. I don't agree with the concept of "small puffs of air ...blowing 'at' the piccolo" that chrisf3000 talks about.

For me, what I hear in the pros is more more brilliance and resonance rather than depth of sound/core/"thicc"-ness as compared to big trumpet.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2021 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dr_trumpet wrote:
Mine came with both when I bought it, but I never warmed up to the trumpet shank one. Clifford Blackburn made a set for me that took a trumpet shank, but they were designed for the shortened, Warburton made Blackburn piccolo trumpet shanks that are much shorter than a standard Bb trumpet mouthpiece. My experience with the Kanstul mouthpiece was not good 30+ years ago. I will have to dig mine out and try it again!

I bought a Kanstul 920 second-hand and it only had the cornet shank pipes. Because I live relatively close Kanstul (gone now) I ordered a set of trumpet shank pipes. I tried the Kanstul P (cornet shank) and didn't get along with it at all probably because I have too much lip intrusion for it most any other specialized picc pieces. I tried a number of trumpet shank pieces and never found one that played/sounded better than a cornet shank piece. I'm currently using a Yamaha 11B4, not often discussed as a picc piece but any shallower I haven't been able to make work.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2021 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many have said something about getting a teacher. That's always key. I've worked with a lot of people new to picc. They almost always fight the horn and want to play it like a big horn. My advice to them is to focus on the resistance and learn to play to it. Trying to muscle a picc around is not going to be optimal. Just get comfortable with the resistance and play things like the aforementioned Clarke Studies. Then work on some of the traditional wedding music. Much of it, especially Clarke, Purcell, and Fischer, is not very difficult and gives you some good music to play.
Personally, I don't find picc to be as difficult as many people say. It's just another horn that you have to make friends with.
I have several piccs that I work with. On P5-4, Spencer long bell, and C5-4, I prefer a regular length trumpet shank. On Blackburn Bb/C, I prefer a shortened trumpet shank. And, on a Shires, I prefer a cornet shank. I'm not even sure why. That's just what seems to be most comfortable for me.
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