Historic Brass Society–annual meeting

I just got through my first global annual membership meeting of the –as vice president and president-elect. We held two virtual meetings at different times to make it more available to our world-wide membership.

From our website: The Historic Brass Society is an international music organization concerned with the entire range of early brass music, from Ancient Antiquity and the Biblical period through the present including the development of jazz and its influence on brass instruments, literature and playing techniques. The history, music, literature and performance practice of early brass instruments such as , , , , , , , , 19th century brass instruments are some of the main issues of concern to the .

So, as you can see, almost any brass player can find networking, expertise and nurturing from the HBS. We are still having events during the pandemic. May 24-26, we will host a virtual symposium called “Pond Life: Crosscurrents over the Atlantic.” We are just about to release the 2020 Journal (the HBS Journal is one of the most authoritative academic journals related to brass). We have many new ideas that we hope to implement in the next year, so stay tuned. I’ll be chatting about them!

Would you like to help in the HBS? We need people who are interested in web design, writing, reviewing, planning events, translating, hosting events, and the list goes on.

Since the HBS will occupy a lot of my thought and effort over the next few years, I have decided to use the Trumpet Journey blog as a way to informally announce HBS activities, ask for suggestions from my readers and to encourage everyone to join this fantastic professional organization (or re-join if you once were a member). I view my job at HBS this way: I have to learn as much as possible from our fantastic outgoing president for 30+ years, Jeff Nussbaum, and I also have to learn from the all the committees and board members what is working and not working (and how to fix it). And I would like to brainstorm with you all–to help this organization do great.

In the meantime, please head on over to our membership page and consider joining. It’s very reasonable! If you have any problems, just let me know, and I will help. Thanks!

Let’s talk slurs: part five, the jaw and oral cavity

Today I wanted to talk a little about the movement of the and the (connected, of course, to the jaw) in helping to do . The lower the tongue (and/or jaw), the lower the pitch. The higher the tongue (and/or jaw), the higher the pitch. You probably have seen the cross-section illustration in the Earl Irons book of the tongue movement. If everything else is equal, the jaw and tongue make a difference in pitch, because a more open oral cavity slows down the , and a more closed oral cavity speeds up our air. Well, the graphic design team here at Trumpet Journey has produced our own illustration of this:

The tongue in the lower position (for lower notes):

Cross section of mouth with lower tongue and jaw

The Tongue in the higher position (for higher notes):

Cross section of mouth with higher tongue and jaw position

Of course this is a little simplistic, because we can play higher notes with a lower tongue position and lower notes with a higher tongue position (by controlling our aperture). Nevertheless, the oral cavity is a very important control point for our playing, and we should try to master it.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about slur “stretches,” it is very important to keep the air flowing during slurs–especially BETWEEN the notes. One mental model that I now like to picture is that of a little squishy ball between my tongue and the roof of my mouth. This squishy ball is my airstream. I like to feel that squishy ball as I am going up and down in my slurs. Here are my tongue position graphics, but now with the imaginary squishy balls.

Cross section, lower tongue with imaginary squishy ball

Cross section of mouth in higher position with squishy ball

One of the problems is tension in the jaw. For this reason, I like to soften the jaw muscles while increasing their range of motion. I use a simple wine for this. I put the cork between my teeth to open up the jaws, while I “scan” my jaw muscles for tension. If there is tension, I gently try to direct these muscles to relax.

I think it is easier to understand some of these concepts by watching a video.