Welcome to Allen's mini-blog. Please click on entry titles to read full entries. Check back for updates soon!
The following are typical and common pitfalls that cause stiffness, poor response, and general inconsistency in trumpet playing:
Not warming up - 15-20 minutes - always. (Specific warm-up material is in the Allen Vizzutti Trumpet Method books).
Practicing too many lip slurs in the upper register top of staff and above.- not necessary
Too many long tones - not necessary. Stifness caused by static mouthpiece / lip contact.
Concentrating and working on embouchure and corner strength - not necessary.
The above 3 items make me very stiff so I don't practice them unless I need to brush up a technical move in which case minimal practice on lip slurs for instance does the trick.
Playing too loudly. Not practicing enough softly. Not taking frequent short rests / breaks PLAYING A MOUTHPIECE THAT IS TOO BIG and it's inevitable result: TOO MUCH LEFT HAND OR FINGER RING PRESSURE.
Over blowing. Leaving the mouthpiece on your chops too long without a lift-off or lightening of pressure. Playing super heavy weight mouthpieces or trumpets - not necessary – this equipment creates artificial resistance and dead sound.
Not having an open mind.
Not being willing to experiment.
Bad hand position. Not inhaling habitually in a relaxed and deep way.
Tongue placement too low in middle and upper range.
Not using common sense - if practicing XXX or YYY makes you feel like shit than don't do it.
Here's what you need to figure out:
The concept of efficient tone production, steady smooth airflow, relaxation and aperture control.
Practice shorter times but more than once a day. If you sound terrible and can take a day off - do it. Go do home work. Hang with some cool people. Pick your friend's brains about trumpet - with a grain of salt.
Fundamentals never change but the interpretation of the techniques with which to establish sound fundamentals, pun intended, vary. There is no path that is exactly the same for all players but great ideas and solid musical materials work well for most of us. Good Luck. AV My book "High Notes" in the merchandise section has text and practical studies and etudes about all of this for the classical or jazz trumpet player.
Trumpet players like to try,
To play notes loud and fast and high.
The best guy at the high note game?
Why, Buster Lipcrack was his name.
At the jazz club late one night,
Buster took a solo flight.
The big band grooved and jumped and roared,
And Buster’s sound began to soar.
The trombones blared, the saxes romped,
The drums and upright bass, they stomped!
And Buster Lipcrack, without fear,
Blew up to the stratosphere.
His solo chorus caught on fire,
His trumpet screaming ever higher,
Soon his valves began to smoke,
Windows! Glasses! Mirrors! Broke!
Ever higher notes he blew,
As if with God to rendezvous.
Above the universe he floated,
Then Buster Lipcrack’s head exploded.
With this web site and my new jazz recording, “Ritzville” I am embarking on a new and somewhat unknown path. While I will remain very active touring, performing and writing, the demise of traditional record companies and their retail outlets has left me, and many other artists, in a fluid business situation concerning recording financing, production and distribution.
As large electronic companies design away disk drives and CDs we the consumer obediently fall in line with the world model they devise for profit. Yes, much of the new technology is remarkable but as we become more and more dependent on the “cloud” for everything our devices are transforming into information portals and personal activity monitors. Soon, the public will be “taught” to follow the dictated path, subscribe to the “cloud” and be able to access everything in the world for a monthly fee. And that’s the only way the newest gear will work anyway.
Artists suffer great losses. We are losing control of our intellectual property through file sharing, ripping and counterfeiting and now, just around the corner, we will most likely see laughingly miniscule rates of return for our creative efforts floating in the “cloud”. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think so.
Yet - there has never been a more easy and efficient way to reach your fan base with your offerings than the internet. That’s exciting. Of course it’s more and more difficult to distinguish yourself from the chatter but hopefully one’s artistic integrity and uniqueness will facilitate that. Grass roots, niche type artists without huge marketing budgets can conceivably reach their fans more easily than any time before.
So it is my grand experiment and dream for “Ritzville” to successfully reach the people who enjoy my music and are willing to purchase it so that I am able to keep creating and recording. A lot of blood sweat and tears goes in to a project like “Ritzville”. It’s also a lot of fun. I hope to record more soon.
I have been preaching the same basic ideas to help trumpet players perform and improve quickly and consistently for a long time. It’s true that I have simplified and refined my ideas as I have become older and more experienced. It is exciting for me to now have the opportunity through the net to continue sharing information about which I think visitors to this site will be interested. It is my intention to periodically add articles to this section and answer questions, inspire and express ideas, and offer technical and musical advice based on my 40 plus years of playing, practicing and performing.
I prefer not to get into a long winded explanation about the working fundamentals of trumpet playing and the intricate balance of elements needed to successfully make it all work…..yet. Detailed discussion of those type of things will eventually follow but for my opening article at my website launch I simply want to tell you my personal performance mantra. Now a mantra is supposed to be secret and unique so perhaps this shouldn’t be considered a literal mantra. Maybe an axiom or a rule would be a better description but a mantra sounds much more mysterious and fun so I’m going to stick with calling it that.
So what is ‘it’? My personal performance mantra? Simply, “Breathe and play the first note with a beautiful sound”. Sometimes I shorten it to, “Play the first note with a beautiful sound”. Sometimes I shorten it further to, “Make a beautiful sound”. I have been know to inscribe that with my autograph as well. To me all three represent the same action, establish the same focus and distinctly contribute to my relaxation and consistency while ‘under fire’. The shorter sentences still remind me of the 3 elements in the first and longest mantra.
“Breathe” sounds almost fecicious as a request. Trumpet players should never forget the importance of learning to breathe deeply, automatically, consistently and in a relaxed fashion. Breathing should be practiced and noticed every day. I’ll elaborate on practice techniques, concepts and illustrations for breathing at a later date.
“Play the first note” also sounds like sarcasm. Of course we’ll play the first note. If we didn’t play the first note how could we ever play the second note and so on? That is precisely the point. Many, many instrumentalists ‘biff’ the first note of phrases or the note after a breath. That leads to frequent mistakes, lack of confidence and bad habits. Thinking about the ‘current first note’ where ever you may be in a piece of music will also keep you focused on present time which is the perfect place to be because you can’t actually be in the past or the future so why try?! If this sounds nuts to you stick around ‘cause it gets better.
Which brings me to “Beautiful sound”. To me a beautiful sound, which implies great phrasing, nuance and interpretation along with personal uniqueness, is 99% of that which constitutes music worth hearing. To make a beautiful sound you have to play the trumpet correctly. You need to breath and you need to get by the first note. Am I starting to make sense?
“Breath and play the first note with a beautiful sound.” Such a simple idea sets the correct physical motion into action, focuses concentration and encourages relaxation all of which enable the music to emerge from you through your instrument in a natural and uninhibited flow. Consistency in sound and performance is the next inevitable result. Good endurance and confidence follow. Emotion and musicality blossom in this settting. What more could one ask? Stay tuned.
Double High ‘C’
Sure! I can play Double High ‘C’
It’s not so hard,
It’s easy for me.
But I was just thinking,
How great life would be,
If I could just manage,
A Double High ‘D’