Monday, October 01, 2012

The Purpose of Knuckles

Why do we have knuckles?  Multiple choice:
  • for threatening people?
  • for punching obnoxious colleagues?
  • for poking your Charlier book right off the stand?
  • for confusing your pitcher by giving no sign at all?
Answer:  all of the above plus one more.  When chops are wasted, when fatigue brings productive practice to a halt, and when you think there is absolutely nothing more to be accomplished . . . you are wrong, valve oil breath.  It's knuckle time! 

Notice that your three right hand valve fingers fit perfectly on your left hand knuckles?  Oh, the wisdom of our Creator!

Much of our lack of clarity involves sloppy right hand technique.  Valves are either slammed down way too hard causing violent jerks in the sound.  Or, valves are pressed halfheartedly in a wimpy fashion causing blips and bleeps.  And/or, the fingers have not been trained to strike precisely on command.  And likely, they are simply not coordinated with the tongue.  At any rate, sloppiness happens which is not the fault of the lips. 

Hence, an entirely new session should be included in our daily practice routine, knuckle-popping.
  • Step #1 - put horn and mouthpiece in the case and close it.  
  • Step #2 - make a fist with your left hand.  
  • Step #3 - place right hand fingers into slots on your left hand, and begin precise fingering on any passage you need perfected.  No music?  Fine.  Do scales, major, minor in all forms, chromatic, and arpeggios, major, minor, diminished, and augmented. This works for all trumpet music with the exception of bugle calls.
Our purpose here is precision without penalizing the chops.  The embouchure does way too much of the work already.  Why make it suffer as your fingers fail to perform?