CP's own stories - Rune Aleksandersen

I began playing trumpet at the age of 9. My father was the bandmaster, and he had not intended to let me play. This was a new band, and to get it working as fast as possible, nobody my age was playing there. But there was a trumpet in my home, and I got hold of this band book and started practicing. I soon got the hang of it, and since this was a new band I became a first trumpet player from the beginning. 16 years old, I joined a community band to expand my horizons. The band was really fun for me.

At the University, I studied Computer sciences. Waiting to be admitted for the master's study, I took a B.A. degree. At the Department of Music, I was so lucky to be a member of the faculty big band. This was a really nice experience, trumpet being my second instrument at that time.

Being 18, I was obsessed by the violin, which I studied heavily for 10 years, seeing one of the best teachers in the country. So I did not have time to practice the trumpet. But playing band once a week and having trumpet students kept me in reasonable shape.

In the autumn of 1996, I decided I needed another challenge. I wanted to play lead trumpet in a big band. My range was not bad, but I did not have the endurance and control to play up there. So I began practicing, and soon found out that this was not so easy. Being impatient, I found a band after a few months. The first rehearsal was somewhat of a chock, the lead sheet being much harder than I had ever imagined. We played the Frank Foster arrangement of "In a Mellow Tone". Almost every note is a B-flat just below high C and there are plenty of high Dís and a couple of Fís on the way. Boy, there was lots of arm pressure going on.

On the way, I practiced lots of chop builders. The mouthpiece soon felt small, and I went into bigger and bigger sizes. I was a mess by the summer of 97. I had to find out what this was all about? My quest for finding a better way to play had begun. I bought lots of books and tried to find out about things. My first revolution was seeing a good teacher. He made me realize that I played with overlapped lips, and that my lower lip was placed safely on the rim. Getting it into action took about 6 months. A long time, but the result was really worth it. And he learned me about Bobby Shews lip fluttering techniques, turning my lips back to normal, so I could play ordinary mouthpiece sizes again.

The next revolution came with Clint íPopsí McLaughlin around Christmas time of 97. He got me onto the Stevens embouchure. Playing with slightly rolled in lips and a closer lip setting really made a difference. I hit my first double C during a gig a short time after meeting him on the Internet. By the summer of 98, I felt I had good control over my playing. But I still had the problem of my corners not being as strong as I wanted. And I began to move my corners inward for the high notes, thinking this was a possible solution to the problem. This was quite difficult, as the muscles that are responsible for the inward movement were not developed at all. Several months were required to build strength. During this time, occasional travels were made to the register beyond double C, stirring my curiosity of the "pucker concept". And the requirement to change the mouthpiece came creeping unexpectedly. For some reason, adding pucker to the Stevens embouchure tend to overpower a shallow mouthpiece. A deeper and more open mouthpiece worked much better when stepping on the gas. But such mouthpieces are a challenge to play. There are so little resistance that one must be real careful to always play with closed lips and a correct lip curl. Fine control is certainly required.

Some pointers that should work regardless of the embouchure used: