“Associated Risks” of Trumpet Pedal Tones

Quite a bit ago now in the comments section of another post, Lyle (check out his Music Therapy blog) asked me about what I had referred to as the “associated risks” of practicing pedal tones. I have a number of times recommended here that trumpet players avoid practicing many pedal tones or even avoid them altogether. In my opinion, the benefits trumpet players get from pedal tones can be achieved by practicing other things. Furthermore, sometimes players on all brass play their extreme low range in a way that is fundamentally different from how they play the rest of the range. This encourages bad habits in the rest of the range, hence my comment about “associated risks.”

First, a definition of terms to help avoid confusion. Pedal tones on most brass instruments are usually defined as the fundamental pitch (“pedal” Bb on trombone, for example). The next partial up in the overtone series is an octave up, then the perfect 5th, etc. You will see in standard literature the occasional pedal tone called for tuba, and the rest of the low brass and horns see them fairly frequently in standard solo and orchestral repertoire.

Trumpets are a slightly different animal, though. First, the design of the trumpet has an acoustical impedance that makes their “pedal C” below the treble clef staff not quite function acoustically quite the same way it does on the other brass. Furthermore, trumpet players usually talk about the pitches between low F# and pedal C also as “pedal tones.” In contrast,  other brass players tend to call those “fake tones.” You essentially are bending the pitch lower than it wants to slot, there’s no partial there to actually play. All these “pedal tones” rarely show up in the standard trumpet literature and when they do, they usually used as a special effect.

So for the purpose of my discussion here, I’m mainly writing for trumpet players, not the other brass instrumentalists. The other brass instruments not only have to play pedal tones in musical situations much more, but also the construction of the instruments tend to make playing pedal tones properly much easier. That said, there are situations where I would instruct a student on any other brass to temporarily stop playing pedals (or even just below a certain low pitch) because the way he or she is playing them is similar to what’s happening with the trumpet pedal tones as I’ll be describing them.

The gist of my argument here, if you don’t care to read past for the details, is that many brass players will excessively practice playing their extreme low register in a way that works horribly for the rest of the range. Trumpet players in particular, due I believe in part to the construction of the instrument, are prone to developing playing issues from excessive pedal tone practice.

Donald Reinhardt, who was one of the primary sources for my dissertation, was quite adamant that he didn’t want his trumpet students practicing pedal tones.

Many years ago, back in Sousa’s time, a well-known cornet virtuoso accidentally discovered that by the daly practice of sustained, fortissimo, chromatically descending pedal tones (from the pedal “C” on down) with various modes of articulation, the extreme upper tones became playable, at least momentarily. After exhaustive experimentation, however, he found that his “falsetto-type high register” was extremely short-lived. After this time the register would return to less than normal.

One of my eighteen instructors related such a pedal tone case. This performer, however, had lasted for a year and a half before the register reduction became apparent. The pedal theory calls upon enormous amounts of embouchure vibrating area to respond in a very slow, relaxed fashion for the various pedal tones being played. The embouchure formation is then supposed to be capable of tremendous pinching or pucker power for the much tenser, more rapid vibrations of the extreme upper register of the cornet or trumpet. In some cases this immediate upper register response (directly following the pedal tone practice) did result in the playing of a few “falsetto” high tones; however, the results were nil after a few attempts.

Even now we have some of the pedal tone instructors, and each one claims to be the first. I might say this so-called method was in the books long before any of these gentlemen were born. It is true that they have added to the exercises in the pedal register and have systematized the procedure; however, I can assure that eventually the net result will be the same as when it was introduced over sixty years ago.

Donald Reinhardt, Encyclopedia of the Pivot System

According to a tape I have of Reinhardt giving a trumpet lesson in 1980 he stated that the cornet virtuoso from the quote above was Harold Stambaugh, who played with Sousa from 1920-1929. Reinhardt also elaborated in this lesson that while many pedal tone advocates have great range and sound, he found their staccato articulations weak. He found that trumpet players who practiced a great deal of pedal tones had a tendency to bring the embouchure characteristics that work fine for pedal tones into their normal playing range, limiting their abilities to articulate staccato passages cleanly.

The way that pedal tones can potentially mess with a brass musicians depends in part on the player’s embouchure type. Playing a lot of pedal tones on the trumpet tend to encourage the trumpet player to put a lot of upper lip inside the mouthpiece. Some method books even specifically instruct you to you place the mouthpiece like this to practice pedal tones. This is fine if you’re a “very high placement” embouchure type. If you’re a low placement type, however, you end up with a pedal tone embouchure (downstream, probably) and an embouchure for the rest of your range (upstream). There is a noticeable shift where this happens that you can usually both see and hear, if you’re paying attention for it. Here is an example I noticed on YouTube.

Notice how he has to set his mouthpiece placement very high on the lips to play the pedal, essentially playing with a “very high placement” embouchure type. In order to get up into his normal playing range, however, he is forced to physically pull the mouthpiece off his lips and slide it down to a “low placement” embouchure type, a shift you can both see and hear quite clearly in that example. This is one way practicing pedals for upstream trumpet players can be so destructive. You essentially encourage a mouthpiece placement that works exactly opposite of how you should be playing. Here’s an example I happened video myself.

This particular musician is an excellent “low placement” embouchure type trumpet player demonstrating some Claude Gordon exercises for me. As he plays through them, notice how he resorts to puckering his lips forward and loosing the “legs” (the feeling of of the mouthpiece and lips together against his teeth and gums). Also consider how he has to slide his mouthpiece to a higher position on his lips when he goes into the pedal register, switching to a downstream embouchure. On those exercises where he starts in the pedal register you can see him suddenly slide his mouthpiece placement lower and switch back to his normal upstream embouchure as he gets into the normal range.

As an aside, this particular player told me he eventually abandoned the Gordon routines because he personally didn’t find them beneficial over the long term.

BE Roll OutThese embouchure characteristics, both changing to a different mouthpiece placement and loosing the embouchure “legs,” are two very common ways in which trumpet players (and sometimes other brass) disconnect the way they play extreme low range with the rest of their range. Another way some methods instruct trumpet players to play pedals is to intentionally roll the lips out and place the mouthpiece on the inner membrane of the lips, as in this photo here. This necessarily requires another embouchure shift to roll the lips back into their proper position to play out of this register, not to mention potential damage to the membrane of the inner lip. The end result isn’t too dissimilar from the two video examples above, where the players needed to slide the lips and mouthpiece to new positions in order to get out of that range.

At other times some players will incorporate an excessive jaw drop to descend. While this works to a degree and helps players get a bigger sound in the low register, there is a tendency for the jaw drop to pull the mouthpiece off its correct placement on the top lip. This doesn’t always happen, but it’s just another way in which many trumpet (and other brass) players approach pedal tones that contrast with the way they play (or want to be playing) the rest of their range.

You can argue that as long as a player doesn’t actually use the pedal tone embouchure in their normal playing range, what’s the harm? As long as you really don’t obsessively practice pedal tones you’re probably not going to really hurt your playing, but the difficulties trumpet players usually have playing pedals in a way that is consistent with their normal range, coupled with the risks of bringing that pedal tone embouchure up, are enough for me to suggest that trumpet players simply avoid practice them and find other exercises to relax the lips, open the sound, and build range.

Collapseing,pedalBb,frontPlayers on other brass instruments may also want to avoid practicing extreme low registers in a manner that doesn’t match their normal playing embouchure as well, as in the photo to the left. However, since the rest of the brass instruments use pedal tones in standard literature and they are acoustically more resonant notes than on trumpet, eventually these players will want to learn how to descend to pedals without resorting to collapsing the embouchure formation or an embouchure shift.

Can trumpet players play pedal tones in a way that connects seamlessly with the rest of their range? Sure, but it takes a lot of practice and is easier for players of certain embouchure types than others. Are the benefits of practicing pedal tones worth spending that time? Considering that there are other things that I think do just as well for the player (although this is personal to the individual player and his or her embouchure type) that don’t have the associated risks, I personally prefer to recommend trumpet players avoid pedal tone practice. Will the occasional pedal tones really mess up a player? Probably not, but excessive daily pedal tone practice can.

There are, of course, many very fine trumpet players who swear by pedal tone practice. There are also many who never do it. While a great deal of this is personal and unique to the individual player’s anatomy, I would challenge trumpet players to try avoiding pedal tones for a month or three and spend your time practicing other things. Come on back afterwards and let us know how things go in the comments here.

Paul T.

This is an excellent article, Dave.

I agree with you in every regard.

As a trombonist, I practice a lot of pedal tones, as I occasionally need them in performance. I sound good in that register, and have a better command over it than many of my peers. Playing the pedal tones on the trombone is much closer to a regular embouchure than what most people end up doing on the trumpet.

And, even so, I find that spending a lot of time on pedal practice starts to affect my technique in regular range of the horn. I think it’s because we make adjustments to make the pedal tones “sounds good” which start turning into muscle memory, and these adjustments are almost never positive for the middle and upper register. When I stay away from the pedals, my upper register is stronger and more consistent. Pedal tone practice confuses your body, because they require different muscles and, usually, a different embouchure (however slightly!).

Lyle Sanford

Dave –

Thanks very much for this detailed and very well written post (and the previous commenter’s mention of “muscle memory” in this context is very helpful). Didn’t realize the trumpet was that much of a different animal. Mainly, though, I see (as well as an amateur can) what your concerns are and why you have them about pedal tones themselves. One specific that jumped out was the effect a lot of low work can have on articulation. I’ve been assuming starting brass in my 50’s was why quick tonguing is so hard for me (old dog, new tricks). Need to work with your ideas to see if that might help.

I still believe pedal tone work was what turned my embouchure around that time I was about ready to quit (and my band director allowed as that might be a good idea given my age and the fabled difficulty of the horn). I’m thinking that it might be in part a dosage issue – a little can be medicinal, while too much can be poisonous.

Thanks for the shout out at the top of the post – but the real thanks are for all the great work you put here on the blog – so many of your posts have stuff I can actually use, and that’s much appreciated.

Svenne Larsson

If pedal tones and ”false tones” are confusing among trombonists, it is nothing compared to what they are in the trumpet world.

Three times I have given the advice to trumpet players to stop practice the “pedal tones” since I suspected that as the thing that cased their embouchure problem. One was a student, two where professional players.
The three players did get over their problems.
One of them learned to play “false tones” the way trombone players do (one position down) and got very much help for his embouchure.

I do think it is very strange that so many trumpet players can believe that producing the weird sound they call pedal tones can be good for their playing.

I do believe that pedal tones should be played with a normal embouchure or not at all.

It is possible to play the pedals and the connecting “false tones” with a normal embouchure, I am doing that every morning.
(I started doing that as an experiment some months ago, it does work in about the same way as it does on a trombone. I am not a trumpet player, I have been playing bass trombone professionally 50 years and teaching trombonists in university 25 years. As retired, still playing though, I do permit my self to do some experiments.)

Both trumpet and trombone players are able to play pedals in strange and weird ways, not like they play the middle and high range.

A test I used for students: connect pedal Bb to the low Bb on the octave above, slur up and down several times, just to demonstrate I do a fast flair between the Bb:s and do it in all positions down to pedal F and lower, it does sound very funny!

I do like the pedals to sound like the tones, a musical beautiful sound. Pedal tones are just low tones, not scary sounds. Even on trumpet the pedals can sound like a musical instrument.

I do believe that practice pedal tones with a weird embouchure and bad sound can be contra productive, it may be bad for the normal embouchure.

João

Hello Dr. Dave,

After reading your article, I must ask you if we can say, and using part of one of my favorite Titles from you:

“Playing Pedal Tones Is fine as long as you “DON´T CHANGE” your embouchure”

For me, personaly, playing pedal tones give me good results using it as Warm Dow and some kind of breathing exercises.

We have great trumpet palyers who advocate pedal tones. Not only those ones from Maggio or C. Gordon. Ex: Winton Marsalis playing 1st Movement of Hummel Trumpet concerto. He goes to an amazing Eb pedal tone.

Thanks for your great article once again!

mark davies

The Eb trumpet does have a pedal C note available as a “real note”. Can actually play a lower real note on Eb trumpet than Bb

Jonathan West

It’s probably worth noting that what trumpeters and trombonists describe as pedal notes is generally not the same harmonic that horn players think of.

From your description, for trumpets & trombones the pedal note is the fundamental of the instrument. On the horn (F side), “pedal C”, i.e. written bass clef C an octave below middle C, is actually the 2nd harmonic. The next harmonic up is the written G below middle C.

For trumpets, written middle C is the 2nd harmonic, for horn players it is the 4th (for the F side of a double horn).

On the F side, the true fundamental two octaves below written middle C is pretty much unreachable and never called for. On the Bb side, pitched a 4th higher, the fundamental is the written F an octave and a 5th below middle C and is just about reachable. Notes around there are occasionally called for in the literature, notably the low E held notes for all 4 horns in Shostakovich 5. But these are rarities. Very little power can be generated on the horn for such extreme low notes.

So the problems you describe on the trumpet simply don’t occur on the horn, at least not in my experience.

One question though. Does the problem you describe also exist when playing the cornet or flugelhorn? I’m wondering if there may be a difference because those instruments have a conical rather than cylindrical bore for a larger part of their length, which might affect acoustical impedance. Is there also a difference arising from the conical bore for tenor instruments in the tuba range – for instance the euphonium or Eb tenor horn?

Dave

Thanks for the comments, everyone. Here are a few additional thoughts.

I find that spending a lot of time on pedal practice starts to affect my technique in regular range of the horn.

Paul, like you I’ve found that excessive pedal tone practice (I’m a trombonist, for those of you who might not realize this) to mess with the rest of my range. Before I made my change from a downstream embouchure to a (correct for me) upstream embouchure I never found pedal tones to help my upper register, even though I was told that it should. As I wrote in this post, playing very low notes can often encourage a higher mouthpiece placement, which was exactly opposite of what I should have been doing in the first place.

These days I practice descending into the pedal register while keeping my embouchure as consistent as possible, working on connecting this register to my extreme upper register. Otherwise, I usually just play a couple or so pedal tones as a quick warm down, as recommended by Reinhardt for trombonists. Because I play trombone, I’m able to ensure that these trombone pedal tones relate to the rest of my range much easier than on trumpet.

I still believe pedal tone work was what turned my embouchure around that time I was about ready to quit (and my band director allowed as that might be a good idea given my age and the fabled difficulty of the horn). I’m thinking that it might be in part a dosage issue – a little can be medicinal, while too much can be poisonous.

Without being able to watch you play (and have a before and after understanding of how you turned your playing around) I’m only guessing, Lyle. It’s definitely true that pedal tones do something for your playing. My main point in this article is that if you understand the mechanics of how brass embouchures work you can practice other things that will work better in the long term. Certainly a little bit of playing very low range “incorrectly” isn’t going to ruin you, but often times players get in the habit of overdoing things, particularly if they feel it’s working for them.

It is possible to play the pedals and the connecting “false tones” with a normal embouchure, I am doing that every morning.
(I started doing that as an experiment some months ago, it does work in about the same way as it does on a trombone. I am not a trumpet player, I have been playing bass trombone professionally 50 years and teaching trombonists in university 25 years. As retired, still playing though, I do permit my self to do some experiments.)

I agree, Svenne, but we’re trombonists and the acoustics of the instrument (particularly bass trombone) are different than how trumpet works. I also agree with you here:

I do believe that pedal tones should be played with a normal embouchure or not at all.

Although I would amend that to say that any low range should be played with a normal embouchure or not at all. At least when practicing. When you’re on the job you do whatever you need to do to make it work. Practice sessions are for fixing problems, performances are for making good.

After reading your article, I must ask you if we can say, and using part of one of my favorite Titles from you:

“Playing Pedal Tones Is fine as long as you “DON´T CHANGE” your embouchure”

For me, personaly, playing pedal tones give me good results using it as Warm Dow and some kind of breathing exercises.

I personally wouldn’t phrase my thoughts this way, João. Many (perhaps most) trumpet players can’t play pedal tones without changing their embouchure and really don’t realize that they are doing so in the first place. Getting to the point of where you can play trumpet pedal tones “correctly” in the first place is an awful lot of work and I question the value of taking your valuable practice time away from more important things. Especially since I feel there are other things one can practice that will produce better results in the long term, as I mentioned just above.

João, if I recall correctly you are an upstream, “low placement” embouchure type. If so, then practicing pedal tones, even for a warm down, is probably not the best thing you can be doing for your embouchure (take this with a grain of salt, I haven’t watch you play). If I can be so bold, may I challenge you to replace your pedal tone warm down with Reinhardt’s low chromatics warm down for a couple of months and see what happens. Instead of pedal tones, slur some very fast chromatics from low C to low F# as fast as you can on a single breath.

From your description, for trumpets & trombones the pedal note is the fundamental of the instrument. On the horn (F side), “pedal C”, i.e. written bass clef C an octave below middle C, is actually the 2nd harmonic. The next harmonic up is the written G below middle C.

Thanks for the clarification, Jonathan. I do know a couple of horn players who have demonstrated that they can play the fundamental concert F on horn, but they don’t play this pitch with a normal embouchure. Nor does it sound very pleasant.

So the problems you describe on the trumpet simply don’t occur on the horn, at least not in my experience.

While the title of this post involves “pedal tones” and is really directed towards trumpet players, I want to reiterate that playing the low range incorrectly (or in a way that isn’t conducive for playing the rest of the range) is not uncommon for all brass players. Excessive jaw drops, loosing the embouchure “legs,” and resetting the mouthpiece are all things that I suggest brass players avoid when practicing their low range, whether they are “pedal tones” or not.

Mario Silva

Pedal tones are a great way to get more lip involved when playing, that’s it. Overkill on any exercise will affect playing. Practice smart.

Dave

Thanks, Mario.

You did miss a couple of my points above, however. Not all players want “more lip involved.” There are also other ways to go about doing this that don’t have the same risks as practicing pedals on trumpet. Because of this, I tend to discourage trumpet players from practicing them.

Dave

Brian

I am not a professional player but I have one son entering college to become one and another “casual” player in high school. I myself played trumpet, horn and trombone in my younger days.

Our high school marching band has incorporated pedal tones in the warm-up of the entire brass horn line….trumpets to tubas….all notes out of the playable range of the instruments.

Over the three years this has been the case, I have observed that the entire line has less and less command of the upper register … few trumpets and trombones can play above the staff.

No instruction has been given on how to produce the pedal tone, it is up to the individual player to figure it out.

It has gotten bad enough that the school fight song was rewritten to a different key, to bring the high end down a 5th.

To bad that observant parents are rarely listened to.

Andy

As a life long trumpet player and performer, perhaps this article could use one simple note that is missing. Pedal tones, like all other facets of practice, should be practiced (approached) in moderation. Additionally, many players will change their setting to accommodate the pedal tone series which you have pointed out in writing as well as images. This IS the pitfall. While there are various professional experienced opinions about setting the embouchure for various ranges, like golf clubs and golf swings, if you spend enough time in careful practice, you will start to realize that independent adjustments do get made in order to accommodate your set-up. You still need though to keep the basis of your settings. Pedal tones have a great advantage to a trumpet players practice; however, making sure the lip setting is minimal in change and also not overdoing it is key. Of the opinions of many friends who play semi and professionally, these seems to be the consensus. What is not healthy are the types of changes in setting which you illustrate in the photos. We must all remember that the majority of work which produces the sounds we want to hear come from one, the air, and two, the tongue position and how it relates to the air. The muscles simply need to be consistent in position and how this relates to the air being pushed out. Other than that, don’t think too much about it. That is where, as your article unfortunately starts to turn in topic, is where the trouble is found.

Dave

Thanks for your comments, Andy.

Pedal tones have a great advantage to a trumpet players practice…

This is the area where I think we have a disagreement. Since I find that there are other exercises that trumpet players can practice that accomplish the same things as pedal tones (perhaps work even better), why take valuable time practicing something that has a potential to cause problems? It sometimes takes a lot of practice to play the trumpet pedal tones in a manner that uses the same embouchure as the rest of the range. This is time that could be spent practicing material that will actually be used in a performance.

Also, I think you aren’t putting pedal tone practice into the context of the various embouchure types, as I discussed in my post here. The upstream embouchure player in particular is going to find pedal tones to use a different embouchure setting. Some players are more prone to these difficulties than others.

Dave

Mario Silva

Pedal tones were never meant to take up a large part of practice. Any real technique teacher knows this. Just like buzzing on an mpc too much can be detrimental to your chops so can playing pedal tones.

I do my pedal tones at the end of any lip flexibility exercises that end on a fundamental tone. I try to hit the pedal below (pedal C,B,Bb etc..) I only go further down when I’m mixing it with range studies. I don’t think for as much research you have done with pedal tones you fully understand the point of them. At first they are to keep you relaxed when doing flexibiites through out the horn but in the extremes are meant to strengthen muscle groups that work in the extreme upper register. If you are practicing pedal tones properly, they would make up to be 2-5% of your daily routine and they help keep you loose and focused on air.

Dave

Thanks for your comment, Mario. I do understand the point of why many trumpet players practice pedal tones and it clearly does something for a trumpet player’s playing. That said, I prefer to address those same things with other exercises that more closely relates to the player’s actual playing embouchure, which many trumpet players cannot do with a pedal tone embouchure. For trumpet players of a particular embouchure type (“low placement embouchure type”) pedal tone practice can actually work against their playing. “Very high placement embouchure type” players seem to be least likely to encounter difficulties due to pedal tone practice, but I still feel that it’s better to work on different things for those musicians too.

The alternatives are hard for me to generalize, because it depends on the individual player and what he or she is already doing correctly and what needs work. If you poke around my blog and look for the embouchure topics you will get an idea what I mean by this, though.

Mario Silva

What I’m trying to say is that, if you practice pedal tones correctly, they don’t take up much time and will actually aide the embochire no matter what the setting is. If you practice then icorrectly then you will run j to the troubles you are describing. I know for practicing them incorrectly for years and then taking the right lessons and now understand them. There are lots of counter theories to how to play the trumpet based on mistakes in pedagogy. Not everyone plays the same but the same physics apply for everyone.

Chris Royal

Sorry Dave,
Raphael Mendez was an avid pedal tone user, and pedal tones helped him to rebuild his chops after an accident. He was famous (but not unique) in having great command of his horn and great articulation, despite the perils you point out. Certainly follows of Jimmy Stamp would also agree that pedals, when used a part of the overall playable range, are very beneficial.

Maybe it’s different for trombone players.

Dave

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts, Chris. I think if you read my article again, and maybe some of the earlier comments, perhaps you will see my point a little clearer. It’s not that pedal tones are not doing something and that it can help players. I also acknowledge that many very fine players and teachers advocate pedal tones. What I do warn against is excessive pedal tone practice can be destructive to the normal playing range. I prefer to teach students how to practice the rest of the range to get the same benefits, which I feel work better in the long term. I’m primarily talking about trumpet players, although any brass player can play the extreme low register in ways that would have me suggest staying out of that range for practice.

Dave

Lyle Sanford

Hi, Dave – saw this post pop up in the recent comments and got to thinking about it all again. I know that working with low tones flipped some switches in my head about what’s going on with brass embouchure. To use a piano analogy, it made me realize I’d been playing with just my fingers (i.e. that part of the lip that’s right at the mouthpiece) and not including my hand, wrist, arm and even torso (all those muscles back behind the lips in the cheeks and jaw). Just being made aware of that was perhaps the single biggest advance I’ve ever made and opened a whole new world. Which is a long way of saying I think you’re right, as for me it wasn’t constant practice of them, but the inclusion of them in my overall work that made the difference.

(I also think playing with just the front part of the lips had a lot to do with getting the lip callus, as it’s never come back once I started using the whole face and not making the lips do all the work)

On a side note, recently a community orchestra got going here and I’m playing that standard repertoire for the first time ever and having a wonderful time – and in the Bizet Carmen Suite #2 he, along with some other low notes, actually calls for the concert C two octaves down from middle C (!). So the low tone work is paying off that way as well.

Once again – thanks for the shout out – I’m still getting clicks from Wilktone.

Brian

So, could it be agreed that pedal tones could be considered for advance players, but should be avoid for young school-age players that have little self-awareness?

Chris Royal

” I prefer to teach students how to practice the rest of the range to get the same benefits, which I feel work better in the long term.”

The point is that pedal notes on trumpet address issues and provide benefits that cannot be achieved in normal register practice. Maggio, Claude Gordon, James Stamp, Carmine Caruso, Merri Franquin (Paris conservatory late 1890’s and not a cornet teacher primarily), Jerome Callet, Bahb Civiletti, Bill Adam are among the well-known trumpet pedagogues that deliberately incorporate(d) pedal notes in regular practice, and not only for advanced students. Pedals should be connected to the normal register, and not in isolation, for best results.

They encourage relaxation on a high compression instrument, and help centering similar to note bends. Pedals add much more airflow , yet very little facial muscle tension. Same is true for trumpet players who sometimes buzz on a small trombone mouthpiece, or play digiredo. Trumpet pedagogy IS different than trombone pedagogy because the compression and actual airflow is very different.

Seems that omitting (an essential) part of the normal curriculum for trumpet should be a on a case-by-case basis, as one could easily short change students by not fully understanding the pedagogy, no matter how well intentioned.

Dave

Thanks for your comments, Chris and Brian. I appreciate you taking the time to contribute to the discussion.

So, could it be agreed that pedal tones could be considered for advance players, but should be avoid for young school-age players that have little self-awareness?

Not necessarily, Brian. As I wrote above, some trumpet students (and even other brass players) practice their extreme low range in a way that is still not connected to the rest of their range. Being aware of that fact doesn’t mean that there are risks of picking up bad habits. Additionally, I note that trumpet players of certain embouchure types will almost always rely on a different embouchure for pedal range that is opposite of how they want to play their normal range. I don’t feel that the benefits here outweigh the risks. And again, I feel that there are other things that most (perhaps all) trumpet players can practice that will address the same benefits without requiring pedal tone practice.

The point is that pedal notes on trumpet address issues and provide benefits that cannot be achieved in normal register practice.

We disagree here, but perhaps we can find some common ground and at least understand each other better.

Maggio, Claude Gordon, James Stamp, Carmine Caruso, Merri Franquin (Paris conservatory late 1890’s and not a cornet teacher primarily), Jerome Callet, Bahb Civiletti, Bill Adam are among the well-known trumpet pedagogues that deliberately incorporate(d) pedal notes in regular practice, and not only for advanced students.

I don’t recall Caruso’s book specifically incorporating pedal tones, but it’s possible I’m remembering it wrong or that he did address it in lessons.

Regardless, what I find unconvincing about those pedagogues you mentioned that I’m familiar with isn’t always what they advocated, but why they did (when they actually addressed it in some details) and, more specifically, what they leave out of those discussions. If you poke around on my blog you will see a number of embouchure resources that describe basic embouchure type patterns and discussions about how those differ from player to player, even players belonging to the same embouchure type. That understanding forms the basis of how I recommend practice that, I feel, addresses the same benefits that some trumpet players may get from pedal tones without requiring pedal tone practice.

Pedals should be connected to the normal register, and not in isolation, for best results.

I would prefer to state that pedal tones need to be connected to the normal register in order to avoid the risks of pedal tone practice. Furthermore, I define “connected to the normal register” as including a number of factors that some folks don’t consider, including enough mouthpiece pressure to maintain the sensation of the mouthpiece rim and teeth against the teeth and gums as well as the precise mouthpiece placement and a continuation of the player’s correct embouchure motion.

They encourage relaxation on a high compression instrument, and help centering similar to note bends.

Then why not use note bends instead? They can be practiced with much less reduction of mouthpiece pressure and much less risk of changing the mouthpiece placement or a reversal/overdoing of the embouchure motion.

Pedals add much more airflow , yet very little facial muscle tension.

My preference for working on airflow (when necessary, which is another issue) is to address it similarly to Arnold Jacobs recommend – utilizing exercises away from the instrument initially and then immediately incorporating the same breathing sensations to the normal playing range.

Trumpet pedagogy IS different than trombone pedagogy because the compression and actual airflow is very different.

Perhaps, but probably not as different as you seem to think. I can’t find the citation currently (maybe someone else can help, if they know), but I recall Jacobs having noted that air compression is internally regulated, regardless of how hard you try to blow, and that the actual amount of air flow and compression needed isn’t as much as many folks seem to think. He supposedly also checked the level of air compression on different brass instruments and found that the amount used on different instruments was pretty similar for the exact same pitch. For example, a trumpet player’s middle C was about equivalent of a trombonists high B flat. Again, the amount of air pressure and flow used wasn’t really considered by Jacobs to be that much.

Seems that omitting (an essential) part of the normal curriculum for trumpet should be a on a case-by-case basis, as one could easily short change students by not fully understanding the pedagogy, no matter how well intentioned.

What is it about pedal tone practice that you feel is essential? Why do you feel that the benefits provided cannot be achieved using other methods?

Thanks,

Dave

mark davies

Brilliant article. My embouchure is a low placement one and have been playing Maggio and trying to do the 2/3 upper lip in embouchure. My buddy always says I have the wrong placement but despite trying to change I just thing my physiology is a low setting. I have very good endurance and technique but range is limited to realistic note being Eb and sometime F at a push having been a brass band cornet player for years – this was good enough. Now I play lead trumpet full time and need G G# maybe the occasional A. My theory now is to try and play up there every day as much as I can without damaging lip. trying lip trills and chromatic and checking I am not putting on excessive pressure. Hoping that the correct tiny mp top G will become louder with regular practice? I other words I wonder if there is no magic bullet method required to move up a third in range, just need to build up muscles and strength without damaging anything?

Dave

Richard, this depends a lot on how the player is already playing and their embouchure type. In general, the benefits that a trumpet player might get from practicing pedal tones can be duplicated or even improved on by understanding how their embouchure type functions and the individual player’s specific embouchure motion. For example, ensuring that the player is keeping any angular deviations to the embouchure type in a straight line and making the appropriate amount of embouchure motion. Or fine tuning horn angle changes or how their mouth corners are locked in place. It’s hard to generalize because it depends on what I see and what is already working.

It’s less about what the student practicing, but more about how they practice.

Brian

“…horn angle changes…” Now THERE is a separate topic altogether… especially at the high school marching band level…

The general mantra is….no matter where you are on the field or what direction you are moving, you are to play pointing at the Judge’s Box in the top of the Stadium.

How do you fine tune that?