Saint Jacome Method - Original Text - 1894 edition


The Cornet is without contradiction one of the easiest instruments to play as regards the fingering, and one of the most difficult in regard to the Embouchure.

It bears some analogy to the human voice in its compass, and in the manner in which respiration is conducted. That is why it has on many occasions been styled the Tenor of the Orchestra.

The manner of learning to play it differs essentially from that in which any other sort of instrument is learnt.

It is necessary 1st to learn to produce sounds, 2nd to give them purity and equality, and 3rd by means of the lips and with the aid of the wind (it is needless to say that you cannot play without teeth) to render these sounds soft and clear, or strong and loud, according as the melody is calm or impassioned, all this to be done with ease greace and lightness.

To obtain these qualities you must not seek to play airs or difficulties which the lips could not sustain, for in so doing you would risk spoiling them entirely or at the very least, would contract bad habits in the rhythm, emission of sound, style, etc. all matters of great difficulty to remedy when once the instrument has been badly commenced.

By a conscientious study of the 12 lessons which commence this work and which contain the manner of emitting sounds, different fingerings with sharps and flats, Diatonic and Chromatic intervals and synonymous fingerings of the said notes varied by short and very easy duets on the different notes, beats and keys most used in Music, I hope that the lips will have acquired sufficient strength to allow the pupil to continue without interruption the practise of the slurred sounds, scales, solfeges, exercises, grand studies and duets which follow.

The Cornet has 3 Valves, the first of which is nearest the mouth, and on which the 1st finger of the right hand is placed, the second is for the second finger, and the last nearest the bell for the 3rd finger. Care should always be taken to push the valves quite down to the bottom otherwise the sound would be disagreably altered.

The left hand grasps the instrument, the thumb being placed on the 1st valve so that it can touch the tuning slide; the other fingers are placed as favourably as possible, for as all instruments are not made alike it is difficult to impose any particular manner. The elbow should remain completely independant of the left, the thumb being slightly bent under the tube which holds the shank and mouthpiece, and serving thus sustaining the pressure on the pistons by the rest of the fingers.

The mouthpiece is place on the lips as nearly as possible in the middle of the mouth, some place it on the right or left side and are not less good cornet players on that account; the fact no doubt arises from a certain weakness of the middle of the lips and sometimes also by the position of the teeth which do no allow of the mouthpiece being placed on them without suffering some injury. Let us however try to do better by avoiding such an inelegant style.

The lips are divided in the mouthpiece into two unequal parts: two thirds for the upper and the rest for the under according to all professors and one third for the upper and two for the under according to one sole individual, whom I shall not name. Now for my advice on the subject; I think it depends on which of the lips is thick; a person with a thick under lip will probably find it more convenient to use two thirds of the under and one third of the upper lip whilst the contrary happens when it is the upper lips that is the thicker.

What is essential is to have a fine tone, very pure and clear, with facility in execution, with that no one has anything to say, no matter where the lips may be placed on the mouthpiece.

Everybody may express his opinion on the point: it is a subject continually under discussion and the problem is not yet solved and in all probability never will be for it depends on nature. Once a position has been adapted it is bad to change it. Study and practise will remedy defects whereas in a change of position all must be recommenced.

The Cornet being fitted with a shank (Bb is preferable with the option of changing it for that of A when tired, although it would be better to rest a minute and to retain Bb) I repeat then, fitted with a shank and being held with the left hand as shown above, you will proceed to place the mouthpiece on your lips with the precautions already laid down and then articulate the letter T in the following manner. This mute articulation is one of the generators of sound and will constitute what has come 9rightly or wrongly) to be calledtongueing (Coup de langue).

In placing the mouthpiece 1st the lips rest on the teeth and should be extented equally as in a smile, 2nd the tongue, made as thin as possible, is introduced between the teeth which are opened by the action of smiling until it encounters the lips between which it is placed conveniently, 3rd it is pressed strongly or lightly, (according if a loud or a soft sound is desired) against the upper lip, which with the aid of the upper teeth supports the mouthpiece, 4th it is then drawn quickly backwards when the air which you had taken the precaution to respire beforehand, escaping by the opening left by drawing back the tongue rushes out and strikes against that contained in the instrument. It is this collision or concussion of the air which produces the sound and which is called: tongueing. The tongue thus acts like a valve serving to regulate the wind.

Respiration or Breathing

Plain Sounds and Sons Filés

>>>>                    <<<<<<<>>>>>>>>

In order to respire it is not necessary to remove the mouthpiece from the lips, on the contrary it must be kept there and aspiration effected by opening the two corners of the mouth, which operation without deranging the middle of the lips allow passage to the volume of air that is needed, (take great care not to draw the air through the mouthpiece.) It sometimes happens you have not use for all the air you have aspired; you must not allow it to escape into the instrument, but let pass off freely by the nose and renew aspiration as I have shown. Pure air is that which give the clearest sounds: observe that those who make their instrument very hot, have generally an exceedingly bad tone. To avoid heating the instrument do not blow all your wind into it, but by holding it back a little you will preserve the freshness of the air you blow and your tone will profit thereby.

In the long notes or plain sounds the tongue must not come to stop the sound at the end of the note as many suppose. The wind, which at the attack was strong and held the lips half open, diminishes in intensity, and insensibly the opening in the lips through which the wind was passing closes and as a natural result the sound ceases with the wind. The tongue then returns and is again pressed against the lips so that in drawing it back a fresh sound is produced and so on until a certain rapidity of articulation has been attained. These are what are called plain sounds. (>>>) As long as the sound is sustained the tongue remains as though suspended between the two jaws and should make no movement whatever.

For sons filés (<<<<>>>>) the attack is the same: perhaps slightly softer, an articulation something between T and D. Only the wind directed and managed with skill escapes softly increasing (<<<<<<<) and then diminishing (>>>>>>) until the lips close as the blowing ceases as in the plain sounds.

“My observations:” Almost all professors agree in saying that you must pronounce a syllable such as Tu, Ta or Ti at the same time as the letter T: up to the present I have only found one or two who have explained that what is called a tongueing or stroke of a tongue is not one: in fact the particular manner I have shown of articulating the letter T has more ressemblance to Th than to the actual letter T; to pronounce T the tongue is pressed against the roof of the mouth, and for the use we wish to make of it, it must touch the borders of the lips outside the teeth. For those who wish to practise tongueing without the mouthpiece on the their lips I now point out the only sound which in my opinion can be made applicable to this method of studying. it is the French e mute sounding like the English in “sun.” Suppress the  and the n keeping only the u sound. This I think is the best of all.

When practising with the mouthpiece, on the lips (as often happens) and without the instrument I recommend it to be done with the left hand and not with the right, for in so doing you would risk deranging your mouthpiece and would get into a habit of pressing on the lips with the right hand which should be avoided. I shall then only use the letter T to indicate single tongueing T. K. for double tongueing, and T.T.K.T. or T.K.T.T. for triple tongueing. There is also another tongueing which may be called tongueing in the sound, that is to say that without ceasing to blow (supposing you are playing piano and slowly) you bring the tongue near the lips and articulate something like the letter D. Moreover in playing movements where there are many notes to be made, you come only to make and articulation like D. A little observation will make you agree that I am right. Try to articulate T quickly and for a long time you will so burden yourself that it will affect the movement and you will very quickly come to agree with me that generally you attack by T but continue by D.