My Notes from Reviewing Arturo Sandoval's videos

March 22, 2019

As with my previous two blog posts, I've been reviewing the plethora of great instructional videos on playing the trumpet's upper register. I've reviewed Lynn Nicholson's video and many videos by Zack Hall and Jim Manley. I would be more than remiss - I'd be undeniably CRAZY - to skip over the instructional information provided by the great Arturo Sandoval. 


Let me get a couple of items out of the way, before I transcribe my had written notes from watching a BUNCH of Sandoval's videos this week. 


Why am I dong this? Two reasons. For personal reasons, I feel the need to tweak my skills in the extreme (beyond DHC) upper register. If you ever want to hang out, I can talk about it, but that's all I'll say here. Next, this is all part of my personal "trumpeter self actualization" project. I want to strip away as many "limits" to my playing as absolutely possible. If there is something that has been achieved on trumpet playing that I can't do, I want to figure out how to do it! Man, there is PLENTY! 


Next, I am very specifically seeking out videos addressing the techniques used by players to play up to an octave OVER double high C. There are PLENTY of WONDERFUL instructional videos out there that take the player up to DHC, but only a handful either specifically of tacitly address this final elusive octave. 


Anyone who has heard Sandoval play knows that he regularly just sails way the heck up over DHC. Here is his CRAZY original tune, Mam-Bop from his amazing Hot House CD. Check it out at around 1:33. He shows not only astonishing range, but his CONTROL up there is mind boggling. Then there's crazy oscillating glissando up to who knows where. 



This sort of playing is why I am studying Arturo Sandoval. There are other players who demonstrate astonishing technique, improvisation skills, range, sound, but I've never heard anyone put together the ENTIRE PACKAGE like this guy. I'd love to meet him someday. But I digress...


I wrote a blog on soft practice last summer and used a Sandoval video I found as the justification of the ideas I was sharing, but, alas, when I wet back, the video has been taken down. Fortunately, he he MANY videos we can study. 


 This is a nice video to start with. Here are the notes I took while watching it.


1.) He doesn't work on range or high notes specifically. Yet he plays accurately way up there. He must at least spend SOME time up there in a given week, if only for a minute.


2.) He apparently had trouble with range when he was a young player.


3.) He emphasizes strong discipline and hard work. He demonstrates INCREDIBLE pedal register, though he bristles at calling them pedal tone, preferring to just use the expression low notes.


4.) He casually goes from a basic high C to a super solid pedal C. I found it interesting that he used the same fingerings from pedal C to pedal F# as from low C to low F#. ACOUSTICALLY, those notes are NOT on the horn (they are much closer on flugel). However, he just nails them with a full sound. He has TRAINED HIMSELF to play way off center down there. So, this is something I wll incprporate into my own practice, now.


5.) He again insists that he doesn't work on range.


6.) He emphasizes general preparation.


7.) Proper practice and hard work. He uses the same method books we all use - nothing unusual.


8.) At 6:15, he does a very similar little octave skipping flexibility stunt that I've herd Wynton Marsalis and Ryan Kisor do. Interesting...


9.) I saw some Sandovalves, so he obviously buzzes the mouthpiece.


10.) At 9:41, the idea of efficiency popped up, but it was a little brushed over.


11.) He shuns short cuts.



1.) Principle of warm up


2.) Don't FORCE - RELAXED!


3.) Take TIME to warm up! Very relaxed.


4.) Demonstrates what he calls a Maggio warm up. These sound like breath attacks. So, I've now incorporated this into my long tone warm up.


5.) He plays about mp to mf. This is much louder than I had expected.


6.) Aim for the BEST SOUND POSSIBLE. It is all about sound for him.


7.) He was shooting for a BIG sound. Not too flutelike. 


8.) At 6:28 he gets to more of what I was searching for - incredibly soft breath attacks. EFFICIENCY!!


9.) He works on cloning the sound.The idea seems similar to what Chicowiscz used to aim for with flow studies. Keeping the sound consistency.


10.) Interesting to note: in neither of these videos does he play over high C at all! It's all about a fat sound.


 1.) Just watch this video and sort it out as best as possible. Here are some things the popped out to me.


2.) Around 9 minutes he disputes the notion that that learning pedals helps the upper register.


3.) He makes a big point of playing the pedals with the regular embouchure and with a solid sound.


4.) Around 10:45 he plays a little skipping exercise very quietly. 


5.) He plays against the acoustics, but he sounds flawlessly solid. This suggests to me that he has really loosened things up right in the center of his embouchure. 



He uses his hands to show tongue position as it relates to range. This fits my model.


7.) He articulates the idea that high speed air = high notes. This runs counter to others. Acoustically, the so called high speed air is a result or side effect of playing the upper register, not the cause of it. 


8.) Ok, here is a point I need to revisit and get implemented back into my practice, better, again. STOP PRACTICING WHEN TIRED!


9.) Not keen on pedal C played 123. He is big on playing pedal C open horn and lipping it in tune.



THIS is my FAVORITE of the videos I reviewed of Arturo Sandoval's instruction. It is well worth listening to the whole thing.


1.) At 39 minutes talks about the ability to generate a great sound. He attributes it to a mental image. You have to her the sound in your head in order to conceptualize it. He did NOT attribute the sound exclusively to equipment. Hmmmm... So, to interject my thought here, so why not train yourself to  pull this all of on smaller equipment as opposed to big? Things to make you go, 'hmmmmm...


2.) At 40 minutes she gets to the central point. How do you tell a student (ME, for example...) how to use the lips. He makes a very interesting point. He says that this is secondary! Everyone is different, so everyone has to sort out how to play for themselves. This is both heartening and daunting. 


So, for me, I am looking for a clue as to a way of working that helped Sandoval put this full package together. I think I fond it here, but this is a bit of a look ahead.


3.) He also says that all that mattes is what comes out of the horn and that nobody cares how you do it!! I totally agree, but I find it amusing that he (like many others posting high note stuff on the internet) has to make the point with great flourish that he is using a big symphonic mouthpiece (at Mount Vernon 1&1/4 C). To me that is a little like bragging on shoe size, but so it goes. 


4.) At 47 minutes, WE GET IT!!! She asks him about his whisper tones.  BAAMMM! There it is!!


Disclaimer: I have talked to players who were fortunate to hang out with Sandoval after a gig. They spoke to me of his ability to play so softly as to defy imagination. I was sort of looking for his discussion on this. 


5.) He plays some long tones so quietly that you have to put your ear to the bell to even hear the notes. This, to me, is the basic method any player can use to develop their own abilities in ALL ranges.


6.) He says it's about control. I would add the word efficiency.


7.) At 51 minutes he comments on efficiency. He also reviews tongue position. He then talks about making sure that the throat is relaxed and not involved. I.e., while tongue position is important, don't let the eee syllable cause the throat to constrict.


8.) He had a pronounced reset when He went for the octave above DHC.


9.) At 56 minutes he hits the idea that HE HAD to FIGURE IT ALL OUT FOR HIMSELF. 


OK, that is what I am up to!


I am already making some adjustments to what I do with my existing spreadsheet practicing schedule to put things together as to put together more progress for myself. 


I hope that perhaps my notes might be of some interest to someone besides myself. Watch the videos with or without my notes and see what YOU can get out of it.


Also, I hope you'll consider listening to and subscribing to my new podcast "Duets From The Trenches: Musicians You Should Know." It's free and, IMHO, fascinating. Find it on iTunes, Stitcher and TuneIN.


REspectfully submited,

Nick drozdoff



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