The United States Army Field Band The Musical Ambassadors of the Army Washington, DC W Trombone Clinic by Sergeant Major Charles Garrett The United States Army Field Band 4214 Field Band Drive ã Fort Meade, Maryland 20755-5330 Phone: (301) 677-6586 ã Fax: (301) 677-6533 E-mail: ã Web
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  romone Clinic by Sergeant Major Cares Garrett  he Musical Ambassadors of the Army   shington, DC  Te Unite States  A  rmy e B an The United States Army Field Band4214 Field Band Drive ã Fort Meade, Maryland 20755-5330hone: (301) 677-6586 ã Fax: (301) 677-6533E-mai: ã Wesite: ean  The U.S. Army Field Band Trombone Clinic 9–1 Trombone Clinic  by Master Sergeant Charles Garrett Playing up to one’s greatest potential shouldbe a common goal for all performers. Realizing thatgoal requires the integration of two elements: artis-tic interpretation and technical expertise. Artisticinterpretation is a function of each individual’s lifeexperience, personality, and musical taste. The mosteffective way to enhance the player’s concept of dy-namics, articulation, rhythmic variables, and diversestyles is through many hours of careful listening.However, all this knowledge becomes meaninglessif it cannot be translated into performance becauseof physical or mechanical limitations. Poor slide tech-nique, a weak embouchure, or bad breathing habitscan keep even the most knowledgeable player frombecoming a good performer. The goal of this clinic,therefore, is to help improve the trombonist’s physi-cal ability, allowing better use of interpretive skillsand putting this knowledge “through the horn.” MOUTHPIECE PLACEMENT  Of the many instruction books available to-day, some provide conflicting information in themost fundamental areas. Some books recommenda high mouthpiece placement, while others recom-mend a low placement. The primary factors for de-termining mouthpiece placement are the size andshape of the player’s teeth, lips, and jaw, as well asgeneral anatomy. Considering this, mouthpieceplacement will vary from player to player.There are two basic embouchure categories:upstream and downstream. Generally, the up-stream player uses more bottom lip than top lip.The downstream player uses more top lip than bot-tom lip. Both high and low placements are accept-able; there are many successful players in each cat-egory. The occasional player who seems to balanceequal top lip with bottom lip almost always has onelip predominate inside the mouthpiece.There are many different embouchure typesin both categories, with slight deviations in mouth-piece placement within each type. The specifics of these various types involve much more than can becovered here, but it should be obvious that there isno definitive “correct” embouchure for everyone touse. The best mouthpiece placement is the one thatgives the individual the best results. Do not attemptto duplicate someone else’s embouchure simply be-cause it works well for them. TO SMILE OR NOT TO SMILE  Modern brass players are confronted withmusic that demands more range and endurancethan ever before. Eighty years ago, it was commonpractice to stretch the lips or “smile” to ascend, aswell as to press harder with the mouthpiece whilein the upper register. This stretching embouchurewas adequate for a time; however, a more efficientembouchure is necessary to cope with current mu-sical demands. The best results will be obtainedfrom a “compression” embouchure. It works bypressing the top and bottom lips together, morewhen ascending and less when descending. Themuscles which compress the lips are stronger thanthose that stretch (smile). The mouth corners shouldremain firm, never squeezing inward. Visually, the compression embouchure is theopposite of a “smiling” embouchure, since the mouthcorners generally turn slightly downward whileascending. This embouchure, which works regard-less of mouthpiece placement, is used by leading brass players from trumpet to tuba. It provides fora rich tone, good flexibility, consistent attacks, andwide range. By comparison, the smiling embouchureresults in a thin, nasal tone, and limited endurance. EMBOUCHURE DISTORTION  Probably the most common deterrent to con-sistent playing is embouchure distortion. Embou-chure distortion is the accidental or deliberate slid-ing of the mouthpiece across the lips or unnecessarymoving of the lip under the rim of the mouthpiece.The most likely cause of embouchure distortion ispoor breathing technique. During inhalation, manyplayers will drop the jaw, open the mouth (the vi-brating point of the embouchure), and may evenpull the bottom of the mouthpiece off the lower lip.In order to play the next note accurately, everything must snap back exactly into position; however, thisdoes not always happen. The best method for in-haling is to open the mouth corners outside themouthpiece rim and, at the same time, keep theembouchure closed (in playing position). With prac-  9–2 Trombone Clinic tice, a large quantity of air can be inhaled withoutdisturbing the embouchure. Be careful not to stretchthe mouth corners too far since this can pull on theembouchure under the mouthpiece. This stretch-ing can be eliminated by pulling the tongue back toallow a more open air passage. Another cause of embouchure distortion isplacing the mouthpiece on an unprepared embou-chure. Some performers place the mouthpiece onthe lips and start a process of twisting, sliding, andwinding-up while waiting for the correct “feel.” Play-ers afflicted with this habit do not always get theexact placement in time to play. The result is achipped note or missed entrance. This habit alsoencourages multiple embouchures and reducesrange, endurance, and tone quality. Before themouthpiece is placed on the lips the embouchureshould be formed as if ready to buzz. This enablesthe player to quickly form a proper embouchure andconsistently place the mouthpiece. To initiate aphrase, follow these five steps in exact order:1. Wet the lips. Although a few players—usually trumpet players—play with one orboth lips dry, saliva aids the player in finding correct mouthpiece placement, promotesgreater flexibility, and reduces the friction thatcan contribute to lip sores.2. Form the embouchure as if to buzz the lips.3. Place the mouthpiece on the lips. Expectto make minor adjustments after the initialplacement. Set the mouthpiece a little highand then slide it down into place. If the initialplacement is too low, sliding the mouthpieceup can catch lip hair or whiskers and pull ordistort the embouchure.4. Inhale. Once the mouthpiece is on thelips, inhale through the corners of the mouth.5. Begin playing immediately after inhala-tion, executing the phrase without delay. It is very important to time breathing exactly.Holding the breath even for a second beforeplaying can cause neck puffing. This can strainor even permanently damage vocal chords. BREATHING  Breathing is necessary for survival. Since thebody was created with an efficient apparatus forbreathing, the brass player’s goal should be to am-plify and control the natural breathing tendencies.Remember that inhaling and exhaling are oppositeactions and involve different sets of muscles. Inhaling  The diaphragm sits like an inverted bowl ontop of the stomach, liver, and intestines. To draw inair, the intercostal muscles raise the ribs and thediaphragm flattens out. Simultaneously, the ab-dominal muscles relax to allow the abdominal or-gans to move downward, due to the flattening dia-phragm. This creates a vacuum in the chest. Thelungs expand to fill this vacuum and air rushes into fill the expanding lungs. Note that during inha-lation,   as the abdominal muscles relax to allow theorgans to move downward, the abdominal area willprotrude slightly. Exhaling  While exhaling, the intercostal muscles andpart of the abdominal muscles depress the ribs andcontract the chest cavity anteriorly and laterally.Other abdominal muscles compress the abdomenand force up the diaphragm, which is now relaxed,lessening the depth of the chest. This pressureforces air from the lungs. The diaphragm plays noactive role during exhalation. The abdominalmuscles do the work by compressing the abdomenand forcing up the now relaxed diaphragm. To vi-sually check breathing, watch the stomach move out  while inhaling and in during exhaling. If thestomach motion is reversed, the two sets of musclesare being used against each other and serious prob-lems can result. Hernias, hemorrhoids, and rup-tures are not uncommon among those who pushout against their belts while exhaling.Try the following exercise to improve lung ca-pacity and to develop breath control. As no horn isnecessary, it can be practiced anywhere. While walk-ing at a steady pace, breathe in steadily for sevensteps and immediately exhale for the next sevensteps. Strive to finish with the same amount of airas before beginning. The musical goal is to learnto inhale exactly the amount of air needed for agiven phrase. Gradually increase the number of steps until able to inhale for thirty steps and ex-hale the next thirty steps. While this exercise ex-pands lung capacity, the emphasis should be onbreath control. An unnecessarily large breath fora short phrase can cause a tremolo (unwanted vi-brato); if the phrase occurs in the upper register,dizziness or pain in the back of the head can re-
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