Classical Trumpet Performance, Teaching
Cichowicz Flow Studies
These simple exercises are known and used by trumpet players all over the world. They were originally a creation of Vincent Cichowicz, one of the great trumpet players and teachers of the last century. They are perfect because they start in an easy register and slowly move outward, expanding not only in range but also in length. I use them with all my students at the beginning of lessons, and I have even taken to calling them “Warm Up Slurs”. They may seem easy to play, however, doing them correctly takes lots of practice, but will really develop your sound and singing ability on the trumpet. I can listen to someone playing these, and really know a lot about where they are in their trumpet development. What I listen for is:
1.Your airstream should resemble one long arch. Do not let individual notes get bumps, and above all else, never allow any inflection on individual notes. Often a player will blow into the middle of a note, and then before changing to another, back off of the air, make the change, and then blow into the next note. This causes a “Waah waah waah” type sound. You should be going for a “Waah-ahh-ahh” kind of sound, where the air is just as thick no matter what the valves are doing.
2. Each exercise begins with a half step. Use this as an easy reminder to not let valves change how we feed air into the trumpet. James Darling, one of my teachers at CIM, and a well known teaching guru always said “Half steps are for free.” Just push down the valve, don’t change the air. You can play these as high as you’d like, but generally with most students, I rarely go above top space G.
3.As you begin to get into higher ranges, make sure to blow fast and thick air over the top of the slur. Do not stop in the middle, and hold the last note long, at least double what is written. Sometimes I just tell students to hold the last note until they run out of air. These are good exercises to do in unison with a teacher, or another player, and work on blending your tones and pitch.
Also, a much more in depth explanation from a friend and past teacher, Mark Dulin: