The Brass Player Magazine - Spring 1999
If you ever want to get a reaction from a roomful
of musicians just ask, If you could have a breakthrough anywhere in
your playing, where would it be? I pose this question at every clinic.
It never fails to create a stir. Why? Because most musicians (myself included)
do not want to admit they have a deficiency in their playing. However, if
you really want a breakthrough in your playing, youll be honest with
yourself. Drop the ego, admit the deficiency and determine where it
I recently did a clinic at a college in Toronto.
I asked the question and got the typical how do you play
high notes? response. I kept asking the same question until finally
a freshman trumpet student caved-in and admitted he couldnt tongue.
I asked him to get his horn out and come up to the front of the room. He
said he was warmed up so I asked him to play a note in the staff. His sound
was weak, his attack non-existant, his explaination: I try to tongue,
but I cant. He thought his problem was tonguing but the actual
problem began with the words try and cant.
True, he did have a problem with his air flow, posture, and the way he was
holding the instrument, but the basic problem he was having was in his head.
So how do we get this guy to tongue you ask? We have to shift his