A Story; Why Play a Clean Horn


One booklet I have had for some years is the 1977 publication Super Power Embouchure by “Brass Teacher & High Range Coach” A. A. “Sandy” Adam. This book is a program of isometric exercises for the embouchure. One side topic that was important to the author however was that of “playing clean.” He shared the following story.

Some time ago a student came to me for trumpet lessons complaining that his band Director had told him to do something about his stuffy, fuzzy, pinched tone. …

After listening carefully to Paul’s dilemma, I asked him to play for me, which he proceeded to do and I must say, his band director was being quite conservative when he described the boy’s tone as only stuffy, fuzzy, and pinched. It was more like choked, strangled, and minute to say the least. …

I said, “Paul, show me your mouthpiece”, which he did and I could hardly believe what I saw. The bottom of the cup was covered with a layer of brownish, black muck and I was unable to see even where the drill hole began. I looked up the shank through the backbore and was able to see only a pinhole of light at the other end as the entire backbore was loaded with filth and muck. …

Mr. Adam showed Paul how to clean the mouthpiece, and then he had him play on it again.

Paul took the cleaned mouthpiece and placed it in his horn and began to play. As you can imagine, he practically blew the walls down. He was utterly amazed at the difference in his volume, tone, and range by having a “clean” mouthpiece. When he went back to play in the School Band the Band Director must have thought a miracle had occurred.

Some people just don’t realize the importance of keeping the mouthpiece clean, yet they wouldn’t dream of not rinsing their toothbrush after every use.

With Thanksgiving coming up it would be a good weekend to clean your horn or at least your mouthpiece. How long has it been? Hopefully not as long as it was for Paul!

University of Horn Matters