Bill Adam

Some of my approaches to problem solving may seem different to you. I believe that we maintain the sound, that we maintain our freedom of tone and our relaxation with copious amounts of air. The sound or tone should always float in the breath and be covered by the breath. As the air flows through, it supports the embouchure and is quite responsible for its position and its relaxation and for the resilience of the mouth. The flowing air is the means for the relaxation of the tongue and its articulations. The flowing of air is the means by which we can relax the tension in the areas of the glottis, the epiglottis, the back of the tongue, the larynx, and the abdominal wall. Truly the trumpet is a wind instrument and is dependent upon the breath as a source of motive power.

As I have matured, my thoughts have changed about the percentages in a well balanced sound system. Many years ago, I felt that the mind was probably responsible for fifty per cent of the playing of the trumpet, and the other fifty per cent was divided equally into twenty five per cent for the embouchure. A few years later I still had retained the thought that the mind was responsible for fifty per cent, but the breath had increased to forty per cent and the embouchure had decreased to ten per cent. Today I believe that ninety per cent of all playing is mental and the last ten per cent of the physical will be divided into nine percent breath and one per cent embouchure. I really believe that the acceleration of the air has tremendous value as to the releasing of the necessary tensions that make it possible for long time endurance and a beautiful sound.

The mind is the creator of concepts and attitudes that produce the physical activity necessary for proper trumpet playing. Wrong concepts can also make playing more difficult. We are capable of one thing at a time with considerable ease. When we have to be concerned with two things at a time, playing becomes more difficult, and when we are confronted with three things, it just literally becomes impossible. If we keep our minds on a beautiful sound, on accelerating the air through the sound, on not forcing the sound, and forget the embouchure, many problems will disappear.

From 1975 CLINIC ADDRESS by Prof. William A. Adam

Permission to use this, granted by Mr. Adam, the 4th of March 1999.