Air flow direction – view topic trumpet herald forum gas approximation

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My teacher places a heavy emphasis on air direction. In order to play higher, air direction should move progressively downward in the mouthpiece via a combination of sending the air downward and tilt of the horn. Is this a widely accepted technique? He has me working now on upper register etudes involving C, D, E above the staff. My playing hasn’t quite convinced me of this yet but old habits die hard.

My teacher places a heavy emphasis on air direction. In order to play higher, air direction should move progressively downward in the mouthpiece via a combination of sending the air downward and tilt of the horn. Is this a widely accepted technique? He has me working now on upper register etudes involving C, D, E above the staff. My playing hasn’t quite convinced me of this yet but old habits die hard.

You are going to find many opinions in favor and against. It is better to give it an honest try with %109 effort on your part trying to apply everything as your teacher says. If it doesn’t work after 6 months maybe you could move on, but again, give it an honest try.

Beaker, your teacher is correct about the direction of the airstream if he is referring to a downstream player. If you’re a downstream player, the higher you ascend, the more the airstream moves downward in the cup away from the venturi and toward the bottom rim. The air splashes when it hits the bottom of the cup, but then the air WHIRLPOOLS through the venturi and into the back bore, just the way water whirlpools down a drain. In the lower register, the air is directed more toward the venturi of the mouthpiece although not directly into it. Anyone who says that they can play efficiently because they try to blow the air straight into the venturi is full of hogwash. If they blew the air straight into the venturi, they wouldn’t even make a decent sound out of the thing.

It’s not reliable to look at the angle of a person’s horn as an indicator of whether they’re downstream or upstream. There are plenty of upstream players whose horn angles point downward, I was one of them. It’s what’s going on inside the mouthpiece with the lips that determines upstream or downstream.

But the main point that I’d like to make about this is that whether you’re downstream or upstream, these changes in direction of the airstream as you change registers are not something you should be thinking about or focusing on while you’re playing. It was happening well before your teacher ever told you that it was because this is natural. It happens whether you think about it or not. If you think about it too much, you’ll develop some bad habits in over-exaggerating these movements. You should be thinking mostly about getting a good sound and keeping a steady airstream. The ultimate goal is to achieve what you want to on the trumpet with as LITTLE movement as possible, rather than exaggerating it. Good sound, steady airstream, and make sure you’re giving it enough air support so that you’re not squeezing the notes out.

I guess this is one of those things where something that looks wrong may easily assumed to be causal in a less than excellent player, but the truth is there could be any number of more visually subtle things going on with these players with "inhibited" sounds.

If blowing directly into the center of the mouthpiece (straight into the throat) produced the best sound and greatest efficiency (which is what many uninformed people think) then why would mouthpieces have cups at all? Why not just have a rim and then instead of a cup, just a straight funneling of the air into the receiver? If the cup is an encumbrance to sound and efficiency, why not get rid of it entirely? In other words a huge throat, no cup, just a funnel. The mouthpiece has a cup and a small throat for some very good reasons.

And as far as "odd angles," what does that mean? There are some phenomenal players in this world with pronounced downward and upward horn angles. This has no detrimental effect on sound or even efficiency whatsoever. What’s odd? The angle of the horn that you see on the outside has nothing to do with how the lips are operating on the inside, and that’s the part that really matters. Look at Mark Zauss on his Future Corps videos on YouTube. He plays with his horn at a severely downward angle. Yes, he holds his horn out parallel to the ground for aesthetics, but take a look at how far his head is cocked back in order to do so. He’s looking up at the sky when he plays. When he plays with his head and neck in a straight, natural position, his horn angle goes decidedly downward. And he has been known to pound out screaming trumpet parts all day long at theme parks and then play lead trumpet gigs at night. There’s nothing inefficient about his playing with the horn at that angle, and his sound is not "inhibited."

I remember hearing uninformed people say that a player should place the mouthpiece in the dead center of their chops for more efficiency, as playing off to the side causes the air to have to change direction and inhibit the airstream. Again, this is a ridiculous fallacy. There are many examples of phenomenal players that play off to the side. The air becomes compressed in the mouthpiece and it whirlpools through the venturi. So when it’s whirlpooling around in that mouthpiece it’s changing direction constantly, so where it’s headed when it comes out of your mouth means nothing, except if it goes straight to the venturi, that’s actually a bad thing because you’re inhibiting its ability to compress and whirlpool the way it’s supposed to. It’s actually LESS efficient to direct it into the hole. By the way, Maynard Ferguson played well off to the right side of his mouth. Joey Pero is another phenomenal player who plays WAY off to the side.

So whether the horn angle goes up or down, or to one side or another, this has NO impact or inhibiting effect on a good sound or efficient playing. It’s what’s going on with the lips inside that rim that counts. If a player has a bad sound, the horn angle is not the culprit.

So when it’s whirlpooling around in that mouthpiece it’s changing direction constantly, so where it’s headed when it comes out of your mouth means nothing, except if it goes straight to the venturi, that’s actually a bad thing because you’re inhibiting its ability to compress and whirlpool the way it’s supposed to.

The air only need flow into the mp on each cycle to pressurize the air on each cycle. Pressurization of the air on each cycle propagates through the cup. The air flowing directly in towards the throat will pressurize the cup most evenly and without excessive turbulent flow (Your "whirlpooling"). Flow direction is really more related to the embouchure style. Analyzing flow patterns is not the entire story regarding air pressure in the cup.

I guess this is one of those things where something that looks wrong may easily assumed to be causal in a less than excellent player, but the truth is there could be any number of more visually subtle things going on with these players with "inhibited" sounds.

I am well. And you make some good points. I can see where differences in structure in the teeth or some other structure would change the angle. I also note that some well known players who hit on a method that worked for them would then propagate said alternate method as if it is the correct one for everyone. Easy to point to for us french horn players with the extreme down angle used by many.

Regarding the comment of why have a cup at all that some other poster made, it would seem that part of the reason of the cup shape is to form a resonance chamber. I have horn mouthpieces that are essentially funnels and others with a gentle bend to the cup. I’ve never seen a horn mouthpiece with the flat bottom cup that some trumpet mouthpieces have but they are different instruments.