Submitted by Jeff Purtle on Τετ, 09/14/2016 - 09:09
Claude Gordon Teaching

What Would Claude Say?

Answers from the personal notes and lectures of Claude Gordon

Question of the Month Subject: Gadgets and Gimmicks...do they work?

"If you think for one moment that a gadget or a gimmick will make you a good brass player you are in deep trouble. And yet, you see them advertised over and over again in popular brass magazines.

Millions of dollars are made each year selling gadgets and gimmicks to the struggling brass player!  How often have you heard one of these gimmick peddlers play a brass instrument ???  Or heard one of his students play first chair in a famous orchestra for several years in a row???

What I tell all of my students and what has always proven to hold true is that your success comes when you apply the correct principles to your brass playing so that you develop by habit.  When this happens your mind is free to concentrate on your music and on your teaching if you have students."

For a detailed discussion of this and other related subjects refer to the bookBrass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing, a Carl Fischer Publication.  For video taped information see "The Seven Natural Elements Of Brass Playing" available through the Claude Gordon Music Enterprise on this Web site. 

From 02/03/2000

Question of the Month Subject: What's the big deal about pedals?

"Many players perceive pedals as a separate entity to brass playing. This is not so!

Pedal notes are not an isolated endeavor but just an extension of the traditional trumpet register.

The test to playing pedal notes correctly is being able to connect them to the entire trumpet register without changing the embouchure or mouthpiece position.

From low F natural to pedal C sharp is essentially letting the note go flat.  From low pedal C and down, it is just a greater amount of jaw relaxation. As in saying the word "awe" you drop the jaw while maintaining the same mouthpiece position. No change should be necessary."

The subject of pedal notes is detailed in the book Systematic Approach To Daily Practice (for trumpet item #04702) (for bass clef item #04959)

For a visual demonstration of the application of pedal notes by Claude Gordon see the video The Seven Natural Elements Of Brass Playing.  

Formatted in both VHS and PAL editions.

From 06/04/2000

Question of the Month Subject: Why practice so many models?

"If there ever was a secret to brass playing it is found in the tongue...the air does the work, the tongue channels the pitch.

Never underestimate the value of model practice!

The major reason for practicing models is to train the tongue to "feel" every approach you will need in music.

Whether you are tonguing two notes and slurring two notes or any pattern of tonguing and slurring...you practice them in all different keys and articulation so your tongue will learn each level it needs to produce the given notes.

Model practice also sharpens eye and finger coordination and aids in developing technical proficiency, a must for quality musicianship.

Models can be viewed as improvising on a basic theme.  I encourage all of my students to make up their own models in addition to their given assignments."

For additional information on models see: 

  • H. L. Clarke's Technical Studies for Cornet 
  • Saint-Jacome Grand Method for Trumpet or Cornet 
  • Claude Gordon's Daily Trumpet Routines 

Video presentation by Claude Gordon " The Seven Natural Elements Of Brass Playing"  (Formatted in both VHS and PAL editions.)

From 09/25/2000

Question of the Month Subject: Why is the practice of different models so important to proficient trumpet playing?

"The practice of different models on a specific exercise isolates individual elements of correct trumpet performance. When all the models are practiced, each individual element is improved. When two notes are tongued and two notes are slurred, it demands a different tongue position and movement than a model where the first two notes are slurred and the next two notes are tongued. When all the possible variations of tonguing and slurring are practiced, very few surprises will come about during a music performance.

Model practice also includes playing in all different keys and chord progressions."

For additional information on models see

  • Claude Gordon's Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing
  • Claude Gordon's Daily Trumpet Routines
  • Claude Gordon's Systematic Approach To Daily Practice for Trumpet* Video presentation by Claude Gordon " The Seven Natural Elements Of Brass Playing"  (Formatted in both NTSC and PAL editions.) 
  • H. L. Clarke's Technical Studies for Cornet 
  • Saint-Jacome Grand Method for Trumpet or Cornet

*Bass clef also available

From 12/06/2002

Question of the Month Subject: What does systematic approach to trumpet playing really mean?

"There are seven elements involved in playing the trumpet and a student must practice different routines to develop each element until it works by habit. These elements include wind power, air control (controlling the air),the tongue, the muscles of the lips and face, the fingers of the righthand, and the left hand as it holds the trumpet.

Correct understanding of these seven elements is the first step to selecting exercises that will develop and improve each element individually so that the total "machine" works in harmony.

Each day the student should select routines that work on specific elements and also routines that bring all of these elements together at one time."

(Note: The selection of different routines is one of the aspects that made Claude a great teacher in that he could see what the student needed to begin practicing and when to move the student forward to more challenging routines.)

For additional information on the application of the seven "natural" elements to brass playing see;

  • Claude Gordon's Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing
  • Claude Gordon's Systematic Approach To Daily Practice for Trumpet* Video presentation by Claude Gordon entitled "The Seven Natural Elements Of Brass Playing"  ( NTSC or PAL editions.)

*bass clef also available

From 01/24/03

Question of the Month Subject: Claude Gordon never advocates "mouthpiece buzzing." Why?

"There is only one time that mouthpiece buzzing has any validity to trumpet playing and that is when a beginner uses it to establish mouthpiece placement on the lips (embouchure) and to get the feel of how the lips vibrate.

You are not playing a mouthpiece! The mouthpiece is an extension of the trumpet and amplifies vibration through the horn to establish tone.

The correct development of wind power and the feel of playing a trumpet can only be obtained by practicing on the instrument. Mouthpiece buzzing promotes tightening and pinching of the lips where blowing through the horn promotes development of wind power and wind control when specific exercises are used.

Trumpet players who spend time "buzzing the mouthpiece" are practicing a ritual that has no application to actual trumpet playing and in most cases intensify unnecessary lip abuse and the false notion that the lips play the horn.

The books that advocate mouthpiece buzzing usually end with the salutation "Good luck and best wishes" because they have taught the player nothing constructive and leave him a legacy of self doubt and confusion when no improvement is seen from the practice."

For this months answers refer to Claude Gordon's books:

  • Physical Approach To Elementary Brass Playing
  • Systematic Approach To Daily Practice For Trumpet
  • Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing

For additional information on the application of the seven "natural" elements to brass playing see;

  • Claude Gordon's Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing
  • Claude Gordon's Systematic Approach To Daily Practice for Trumpet* Video presentation by Claude Gordon entitled "The Seven Natural Elements Of Brass Playing"  ( NTSC or PAL editions.)

*bass clef also available

From 03/07/03

Question of the Month Subject: I practice and practice but I see no improvement in my trumpet playing. Why?

"There is a saying that "practice makes perfect" and valuable only when the practice is perfect for the subject you want to achieve.

The manner in which you practice is of vital importance. Brass playing is a form of athletics and therefore requires muscle co-ordination and development of strength. Practice then, must be done with diligence, using the proper exercise to develop the proper muscle structure. If one develops the wrong muscles, he will practice for years without any improvement.

These things will not develop over night but take lengths of time as does any athletic endeavor. Most brass players are so impatient for instant success that they fail to build a solid foundation of correct physical approach to brass playing. You cannot build a sky scraper on a foundation laid for a single story house, and yet the very foundation needed to achieve correct brass playing is the one most often ignored.

There are seven natural elements of brass playing required to become an accomplished player. They must be developed individually until they all work together by habit or feel."

For this months answer refer to Claude Gordon's books:

  • Physical Approach To Elementary Brass Playing
  • Systematic Approach To Daily Practice For Trumpet
  • Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing

For additional information on the application of the seven "natural" elements to brass playing see:

  • Claude Gordon's Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing
  • Claude Gordon's Systematic Approach To Daily Practice for Trumpet* Video presentation by Claude Gordon entitled "The Seven Natural Elements Of Brass Playing"  ( NTSC or PAL editions.)

*bass clef also available

From 01/13/04

Question of the Month Subject: Many have asked about the long pending Claude Gordon Heritage Room and Library.

I am pleased to inform you that the University of Illinois Foundation at Urbana-Champaign has just acquired the Personal Papers and Music Instruments of Claude Gordon.

Along with the Herbert L. Clarke Collection, the Claude Gordon Collection will be housed in the John Philip Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, a Division of the University Library at Urbana-Champaign and open for public inspection and research.

Pending announcements will be made by the University for a special program and sesquialteral celebration of the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music for the coming month of November. The public will be invited and many musicians will be on hand to play a variety of tunes and styles of music born during the early days of American History.

This Website will provide future announcements of current and up coming events surrounding the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music and the Claude Gordon Collection.

Respectfully yours,
Patty Gordon

Claude Gordon's method books for brass players:

  • Physical Approach To Elementary Brass Playing
  • Systematic Approach To Daily Practice For Trumpet
  • Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing

For additional information on the application of the seven "natural" elements to brass playing see:

  • Claude Gordon's Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing
  • Claude Gordon's Systematic Approach To Daily Practice for Trumpet* Video presentation by Claude Gordon entitled "The Seven Natural Elements Of Brass Playing"  ( NTSC or PAL editions.)

*bass clef also available

From 07/27/04

Question of the Month Subject: Mouthpiece buzzing is advocated by several method books and some professional players. I have not seen any improvement in my playing after several years of following this advice. Why?

"Once again, the fallacy that the lips play the horn laid the foundation for mouthpiece buzzing. There is nothing more counterproductive to brass playing than mouthpiece buzzing.

Buzzing the lips and or the mouthpiece does not build or strengthen anything! You practice to keep the lips and facial muscles elastic and flexible, buzzing has the opposite effect and is very stiffening. Besides that, one does not breath correctly when buzzing so range and endurance never develop.

Buzzing puts all of your focus on the lip, misleading you into thinking that it does more than just vibrate. You have to remember that the lips act as a vibration medium only. A free vibration from the lips is what determines the quality of tone that comes through an instrument.

I will not allow my students to "buzz" either the lips or mouthpiece as a practice tool! Although many so called methods advocate buzzing, as do many teachers and schools, this is a shameful waste of time."

  • Claude Gordon's method books for brass players:
  • Physical Approach To Elementary Brass Playing
  • Systematic Approach To Daily Practice For Trumpet
  • Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing (bass cleff also available)*

For additional information on the application of the seven "natural" elements to brass playing see the video presentation by Claude Gordon entitled "The Seven Natural Elements Of Brass Playing"  ( NTSC or PAL editions.) *

If you wish to have your personal questions about brass playing answered by a Certified Claude Gordon Teacher you may contact Jeff Purtle through his web site at www.purtle.com

From 11/03/04

Question of the Month Subject: What do you mean when you state that "open equipment"is essential for proper development?

"All wind powered instruments require physical strength that must be developed. It is easier to notice it by playing the horn than it is to talk about. However, free blowing equipment is what I mean when I use the term "open" in reference to it. This applies to both the horn and the mouthpiece as there is not a horn or a mouthpiece made that will play for you.

Free blowing equipment allows you to develop the wind power and all of the related elements necessary for successful brass playing. If your physical strength is used to fight the resistance of small equipment, you hinder the very thing you are trying to develop and end up developing a fight against resistance rather than an easy performance.

It needs to be noted too that you will not get good results by using an open bore horn and then try to get "high notes" by putting a tight mouthpiece in the leadpipe. Both the horn and the mouthpiece should be open and aerodynamically balanced. This will allow one to develop the essential physical elements of brass playing, the key to playing any note you wish to produce."

Claude Gordon's method books for brass players: Physical Approach To Elementary Brass Playing, Systematic Approach To Daily Practice For Trumpet and Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing (bass clef also available)*

For additional information on the application of the seven "natural" elements to brass playing see the video presentation by Claude Gordon entitled "The Seven Natural Elements Of Brass Playing"  ( NTSC or PAL editions.) *

If you wish to have your personal questions about brass playing answered by a Certified Claude Gordon Teacher you may contact Jeff Purtle through his web site at www.purtle.com

From 12/02/05

Question of the Month Subject: WHEN ARE THE NEW CLAUDE GORDON TRUMPETS COMING?

YOU WILL NOW HAVE A CHOICE!

Custom made reproductions of the Claude Gordon Classic 468 and 470 bore size Bb trumpets are now in the making.

The Claude Gordon Music Enterprise is proud to announce that it has teamed-up with the  world renowned Marcinkiewicz Co. Inc. noted for its quality and hand crafting capabilities to reproduce the Claude Gordon trumpets.  These trumpets represent the original Claude Gordon specification for aerodynamic accuracy, metal quality and a quality of performance that is right for all types of music and that players expect from a quality crafted horn.

The trumpets are in production now and will be formally introduced at the NAAM Show, January 17th to 20th, in Anaheim California.  Look for Booth 4131 Hall "D."

Both the Claude Gordon 468 and 470 Bb models will be available and a special limited edition of 25 is in production for each horn.

In the meantime, deposits on the first 25 limited editions are being taken.  These horns will be in silver with gold trim in various places and individually numbered.  The horn comes with a mouthpiece, warranty and case.

The current price for one limited edition trumpet is $3,500 and after the limited editions are sold the price may or may not be the same but the gold trim will be optional at additional cost.

If you wish to reserve one of these 25 trumpets you may do so with a 50% deposit directly to the manufacturer with the balance due on delivery that would require a 6 to 8 week production time.

I hope this is helpful. We look forward to serving you.

Respectfully,
Patty Gordon

Claude Gordon's method books for brass players:

  • Physical Approach To Elementary Brass Playing
  • Systematic Approach To Daily Practice For Trumpet
  • Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing (bass clef also available)*

For additional information on the application of the seven "natural" elements to brass playing see the video presentation by Claude Gordon entitled "The Seven Natural Elements Of Brass Playing"  ( NTSC or PAL editions.) *

If you wish to have your personal questions about brass playing answered by a Certified Claude Gordon Teacher you may contact Jeff Purtle through his web site at www.purtle.com

From 01/02/07

Question of the Month Subject: What is the history behind the two new "Claude Gordon 468" and the "Claude Gordon 470" bore size trumpets?

Answered by Patty Gordon:

The answer is timing.  Claude wanted to preserve and duplicate what he found to be a better playing trumpet in his pre-World War 2, French made Besson.  He spent hours tearing apart several horns, measuring and testing metal quality to see what made one work better than others.

By the time Claude made his speculations and modifications to produce the horn he desired, the industry was not ready to go back to an "open bore horn."  The passing of time and false notions on what made a trumpet play well or why was now overshadowed by "new and unproven theories" and sales gimmicks that promoted small bore size horns that Claude called the "pea shooters."

In the late 60's early 70.s the Benge Company agreed to produce the "Claude Gordon Trumpet" but did not agree to go the full 470 bore size that Claude hoped for.  He then adjusted the tapers but maintained the correct aerodynamic flow in the reduced 468 bore size trumpet.  It immediately became a hit among the players as it  performed very well indeed..... and is still very much in demand.

In 1984 The Selmer Company agreed to produce the "Claude Gordon Trumpet" in the full 470 bore size that Claude initially wanted.  To the credit of Claude's insisting on correct aerodynamic flow, both horns played very well and are still sought after today.

In 2006 the Marcickiewicz Company Inc.  and the Claude Gordon Music Enterprise  teamed together to re-produce both the "Classic Claude Gordon 468" and the "Classic Claude Gordon 470" bore size trumpets.  These horns are open, balanced and offer the free blowing quality of performance that was important to Claude Gordon and his students. Truly a gift to the trumpet player wanting this same experience that will last for a lifetime of playing.

Both trumpets are now in production in limited editions per year.  The hand crafting and quality of performance that these horns offer are unsurpassed anywhere in the world.

If you wish to reserve one of these trumpets you may do so with a 50% deposit directly to the manufacturer with the balance due on delivery that would require a 6 to 8 week production time.  The current price for a trumpet in silver with 24k gold trim and a case is $3,500.

I hope this is helpful. We look forward to serving you.

Respectfully,
Patty Gordon

Claude Gordon's method books for brass players:

  • Physical Approach To Elementary Brass Playing
  • Systematic Approach To Daily Practice For Trumpet
  • Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing (bass clef also available)*

For additional information on the application of the seven "natural" elements to brass playing see the DVD presentation by Claude Gordon entitled "The Seven Natural Elements Of Brass Playing"  (PAL edition Video still available ) *

If you wish to have your personal questions about brass playing answered by a Certified Claude Gordon Teacher you may contact Jeff Purtle through his web site at www.purtle.com

From 05/23/07