My Notes from Bergeron, Faddis, Ross, Anderson

April 4, 2019

This will be my final set of stream of consciousness notes from studying videos of high note trumpet artists in an effort to increase my range and reduce the amount of physical effort in my own high note trumpet work.


For personal reasons I want to develop my range from D/DHC to G/DHC such that there is utility to those notes. I also want to do this in as relaxed a fashion as possible. I feel I allow too much "tension" to creep in right now. I put tension in "" because I am not referring to tensing up my lips like tightening a guitar string. I mean just a global sense of tension that I don't feel I should need to be able to do this. 


What is interesting is that the final three - Bergeron, Faddis and Ross only very sparingly address this from a chops point of view. Sandoval also addresses his techniques sparingly and one has to "read between the lines" to see what he is up to. 


Let's start with what I could find from Wayne Bergeron.


Hip Bone U Playing High Notes with Wayne Bergeron


This short clip is LOADED with info. He speaks of aperture - small for high large for low. Small for quiet and large for loud. Yes, I infer this from experience from his partial remarks in this trailer. However, I've used this in my own lectures. 


Another thing here is his breathing. When he plays the DHC he is NOT contorting when he goes for the note. Not a lot of work. He says the "compression"  is all at the mouthpiece. Once again, I'm interpreting the word "compression." I think he is alluding to tongue position. He doesn't seem to over-blow at all, but he does grunt slightly when he releases the DHC. 


Wayne Bergeron on Air Pressure and Embouchure 

 Some really interesting remarks, here. I like the fact that he addresses chronic overblowing. He also comments about releasing tension in the upper body. He also makes a potentially controversial remark. He talks about NOT tightening up the abdomen. He then points to the mouthpiece and comments that it will do the "compression" for you. As he goes up the the high C, he does clown around about tightening up the abs a little bit. Later, he sort of contradicts that. Saying that he is not using much tension. That seems clearly evident in his playing. 


Around 7 minutes he discusses a problem with stretching the lips and making them thinner under the mouthpiece rim and point out the problems with the sort approach. Then he comes around to the Maggio method - a more puckered out concept - making more of a cushion for the mouthpiece. 


He gets back to the aperture thing shortly after that. My take away is that he thinks of controlling the aperture and that his approach to finesse based as opposed to brute force. 


I think he is mixing the concept of "resonance" with "compression." 


He can't buzz a DHC free buzzing. Cool. Not many can.


As far as the public domain stuff online, that's about it for WB! He does have many fine subscription videos and things you can purchase, but by and large, his approach is technically solidly traditional as far as high note development is concerned. I would also add conservative - careful. 


My take away is that he is solidly into aperture control with a "mouthpiece gripping" mentality as opposed to pressing.  While I am puzzled at what seems to be slightly ambiguous use of the word "compression" from a fluid dynamics concept (don't forget there are two types of fluids - compressible and incompressible, and AIR is a COMPRESSIBLE FLUID), I think from the contexts above he is referring to either resonance or tongue position. I say this only to address MY mentality as a physicist/engineer and the langue has specific meaning to me. 


Now, on to Jon Faddis. The is remarkably little from him on this subject. If you do a Youtube search on Jon Faddis on how to play high notes, here is the only hit. 


Jon Faddis on Practicing High Notes


He just discusses what he does. There is no commentary on HOW he does it. So for ME, the ticket to sorting out Faddis is to watch him like a hawk.  So, this is what I'm going to do.


In this clip what just "screams out to me" (sorry, I couldn't resist) is how EFFORTLESSLY he does this! He is not contorting in any way shape or form. His posture is sloppy, for that matter as he is lounging with an interviewer. 


Bottom line?? He is up to something!!! 


Here is a clip I like to use in lectures and if you watch him like carefully you can see what he is doing with his chops. 


Jon Faddis Body and Soul


 Once again, it is effortless. However, watch the closeup at 2:55. I can see a definite "lip tuck" where he rolls his lower lip slightly inward making for a nice cushion and allowing for a nice close aperture. I can also sense that his tongue is nudging the back of the lower lip. You seem him repeatedly stick his tongue out for a slit second. Once again, getting back to the effortless thing, that Bb on the end looks like nothing. He is not using a big core driven set of moves. This isn't to say that he is not using his lower back and abs. It is just that his whole system is so relaxed as to make this of minimal importance. 


My take away here is the tongue position and lip tuck. This reminds of the Walt John high gear thing.


Finally, on to Rashawn Ross. 


Rashawn Ross with Adam Rapa


 At one point Dave Monette asks him point blank HOW DO YOU DO THAT??


At two minutes he drops the line of the video for me: "Today's squeak becomes tomorrow's notes." I think this is absolutely true. I am watching him carefully and he is carefully setting up his chops very close together - a squeak set. Then he couples some air into the system and the note pops out. 


Once again, he is doing this stuff totally effortlessly. No big bodily contortions. Rapa definitely picks up on the tongue position concept. I think this is also part of the picture. 


Finally, I want to study one more video.  This is Cat Anderson when he was a little younger. I don't equate aging or, as I prefer to say, gaining seasoning, equates to any sort of decay. However, I have encountered some folks who just decide to quit studying or practicing as they advance chronologically. In short, they let things go. In his later years, Cat seemed like he was working a lot harder than his earlier years. In this clip, El Gato, he his sharing the stage with an all star Ellington trumpet section with Clark Terry, Ray Nance, and Andres Merenguito. 


El Gato

Aside: Clark plays an AWESOME solo! 


At 2:20 or so Cat plays his solos trading with Nance. I find his ease of playing and apparent adherence to a "squeak set"  mastered compares very closely to Ross above. 


At this point you have a little trouble seeing Cat as he is standing behind Nance. However, when you can see him, his is playing EFFORTLESSLY. I love those crazy doits at 2:26. He is NOT overblowing at ALL. At the end of his second solo he beeps out a little triple tonic - a THC. THAT note is my clue, for me. he seems to be very carefully setting his chops up quite close together and has a solid squeak set. Then he can keep his chops set that way, add some air, but not a lot. You don't have to blow super hard. 

At the end of the tune, Cat shows he is not "invincible, though his last note is still impressive. It is a wicked loud DHC. However, he is clearly trying to go beyond that. He looses it, a bit. My guess is that he lost his form a bit for those squeaks and was so determined to just HAMMER the last note that he DID get into a little bit of over blowing. He had to SCOOP up to the DHC three times. Yeah he nailed it, but it seems he was struggling a bit compared to his totally crazy solos at 2:20. 




This closes out my studies for developing my own range and consistency above DHC. I now have a very distinct plan. I've already modified my practice routine to include these things. As of this writing I've only been using these new ideas for about a week, and I can see clear progress. In fact, I have discovered an embouchure adjustment that I can use. I can already hammer out nice G/DHC and even THC. However, after just a week, I don't have the sort of control up there, yet, such that I am willing to go out on a limb and deploy it in the field on just ANY gig. On gigs where I am working with good friends who are likely to be willing to be more forgiving if I try and flop, I might take a run at the new stuff. 


I have not significantly altered my practice spread sheet at all, save to add two whisper tone sections. Here is my PRACTICE ROUTINE. I have also altered HOW I do a lot of this stuff, now. The new ideas are definitely working.


Once I have completed this development project I am going to do a master class. This will be an online master class available to everyone interested. I expect to have everything ready by mid summer. Stay tuned!


Respectfully  submitted:

Nick Drozdoff



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