ABOUT MY PERSONAL BASIC TRUMPET PLAYING CONCEPTS

In my career I have had 3 changes of embouchure while following the guidance of my past teachers. This led me to have big problems in the first part of my life as trumpet player. I started playing in my village band in 1976 at quite a young age with an upstream embouchure and everything went very well. Very soon, around the age of 14, many professional and amateur big bands in my area (the Versilia, in Tuscany) started to call me for gigs, so i had my first experiences playing as lead trumpet. Then, at the age of 17, I began my studies at the conservatory and had my first change of embouchure to a more classical position, trying to play downstream and with more of a canonical lip setting, 2 / 3 above and 1 / 3 below. My teacher thought it was good for me, but unfortunately, he was wrong. For 3 years i couldn't play at all, and my teacher didn't know how to fix my problem because he focused more on breathing rather than embouchure. So, after these 3 years, I had the second change of embouchure trying to get back to my original position. It came out as kind of a middle embouchure that allowed me to play and go back to the gigs, but unfortunately it didn't correct the sound quality, endurance and strength problems. Finally, my third and last embouchure change... the decisive and final one... took place in 1987 under the guidance of the great Armando Ghitalla, principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Ghitalla solved immediately my embouchure troubles, giving me the tools to fix my sound and endurance problems, explaining the concepts he had applied to himself and to all his students, many of which have become internationally famous trumpet artists. His concept of a closed lips embouchure, like pronouncing the letter M, playing on the white part of the skin instead of the red part on the lips, finally took me to a new life as a trumpet player. Later I found that Ghitalla's playing concepts were 70% similar to those of the Stevens-Costello system. Before Ghitalla fixed my embouchure problems, I had the opportunity to try different embouchures, and it helped me as a teacher to specialize in understanding and solving problems related to embouchure, lip setting and use of the lip muscles, which are all very important factors in developing our range. In my life, I also experimented with various schools about how to use breathing and air, and I have developed my own technique to control the compression of the air based on yoga breathing, trying to develop 100% total use of the air and breathing in playing the trumpet.

In my research, I constantly referred to the scientific knowledge we have about the physics of the trumpet and how scientifically and physically it works. We can obtain certain results from our instrument knowing well those mechanisms.

Let's never forget the trumpet has been in existence for more than 2000 years, and its functioning and techiniques have been studied, explained and developed more than ever. Moreover, do not forget that since the first trumpet was built and trumpeters began teaching it as an art many centuries ago, setting the embouchure has always been the most important starting point, with a very important evolution. Let's never forget it, because it is the history of the trumpet.

Trying to summarize in a few words the concepts I use and teach:

EMBOUCHURE
It's very important to know how to set the lips inside the mouthpiece and around the edge of the rim, centering the vibration, the sound and the air stream. If an embouchure change is required, I always refer first to the concepts coming from the Ghitalla / Stevens-Costello school, setting the lips like a “M” on the white part of the lips instead of the red.

LIPS and MOUTH MUSCLES
They are very important to control the lip vibration and to enhance the work of the air. But working on the muscles does not mean bodybuilding them, or pursing them like rocks, or using them too much, in a surplus use. Using properly the mouth and lip muscles means to develop them in a powerful and flexible way, without creating unnecessary tension, getting 100% of their potential. The control starts at the corners of the mouth and allows the lips to work very closed, soft and above all elastic right in its center. Like an elastic wall.

AIR AND BREATHING
The inhalation of air and storage in the body are important and they are related to the attack of the note. The use of air is in terms of compression, for playing both softly and powerfully in all registers, and above all opening the high range. The air stream must be as free as possible, so I advise my students to keep the tongue low. This allows the air stream to be blown at its maximum power playing loudly, especially in the high range. In my opinion, keeping the tongue too high while playing the upper register does not allow the sound to really open up because the air stream becomes too thin, and it also does not allow for a greater range. On the other hand, playing piano and pianissimo needs a certain use of the tongue, keeping it a little bit higher, because it helps to have better control of the air stream. But for me, playing loudly, the tongue should remain always positioned downward for a stronger and more beautiful quality of sound. In conclusion, air compression and proper use of the lip muscles are the keys to achieving complete control of the instrument.


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