A Conversation with Jeff Stockham and Tom Varner: Can We Play Both French Horn and Trumpet? (Part II)
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Hi Jeff, Thank you for this wonderful information.
It is so cool that you can do both. Whenever I tried trumpet (well, I DID play flugelhorn with a horn mouthpiece in high school marching band, had a great tone, but range of 5 notes), I had no range. I love the low, almost bass bone range on French horn. I am still not good with the super-high range on French horn. High C and D flat is just about it. And yes, you old man, I also started on French horn in 4th grade too, I think in 1966! And yes, one earlier year of piano, and good ears!
I played an Olds single B-flat from 4th grade to junior year in high school, then a Conn 8D junior year high school to ten years after college, then a Paxman 20-M (medium normal double) from ‘89 on, with some 18-month tries on a Conn 10D, and a Paxman 25-L (large). Still on that 20-M now. And that’s it. Mouthpiece is Giardinelli (Joe Singer) S-14, with very few changes over the years. Sometimes in the past I played a Giardinelli C-7 and also a C-12.
I have a new horn student coming over today, he might want to try trumpet, he is not sure. Your advice was great–yes, life is too short to stress about it. I have other students that do play both.
Thanks again, Tom
Hi Tom, Happy to hear back from you!
About upstate NY–the countryside there is beautiful, until the point in the year when it’s covered by 15 inches of snow. Ithaca is a very cool place–beautiful area. An old classmate from Eastman, Alex Shuhan, teaches horn at Ithaca College now; he got the position vacated by Jack Covert.
Have your student try the trumpet with a fairly small mouthpiece like a Bach 10-1/2C. He’ll probably get better results with that than with a 7C (a crappy mouthpiece if there ever was one–no wonder so many kids sound like anemic ducks) or larger ones like 5C or 1C. Although, the 3C has a nice feel with a semi-flat rim and is shallow enough that you can make some noise on it without straining yourself too much. I’ve been using one lately for some of my classical work. (Not for lead trumpet, though!)
I was always a high note hornist–I had no fear even of stuff like the B-Minor Mass. Not that I’d always nail it, but I’d sure take a heckuva swing at it. (I wish I was that fearless now!) I never had that fat solid low range; it must have been that I was playing on mouthpieces that were a bit too small or narrow. I’ve tended toward a bit larger mouthpieces of late. I pattern my ideal jazz horn sound and improvisational approach to resemble Frank Rosolino’s trombone playing. He was simply the best, hippest, swinginest jazz cat around on any instrument.
Bob Brookmeyer is also a “sound model” of mine. Getting a clean sound, with clarity and warmth, plus maybe a little sparkle, is important; I save the fatness and big syrupy tone for the orchestral and show pit stuff where it sounds best. I do optimize my equipment to the job–between the Sansone Bb, the 3 bells for the Holton, and several mouthpieces, I can usually find a sound I’m satisfied with for any particular situation.
Gotta run, so many things still to do yet today!
(Jeff, Update, May 2011)
Hi Tom, an equipment update–I was finally able to acquire a 1960 Olds O-49 5-valve Bb horn, a truly outstanding instrument, and I now use it for most of my jazz and also for wind quintet, where it blends very well with the ensemble. I sold the Sansone to pay for the Olds.
For trumpet, I’m using either a 1959 Conn 38B or a late 1950s Olds Studio Model, depending on the type of job. Actually, the O49 is the 5-valve Bb (similar to the Sansone pattern) which period Olds literature claims was designed at the behest of John Graas and other LA players for studio work.
I also now own John Graas’ personal Olds O-48, which is a 5-valve Geyer-style double with a stopping valve on the Bb side.
That horn was custom built for Graas by Zig Kanstul when he was at Olds, and Zig confirms that it was the only one they built like that. It was a copy of a Knopf that Graas was borrowing at the time. He liked the Knopf’s stopping valve and wanted a horn of his own with a similar feature.
The 2 thumb triggers are set up thusly: the Bb side is played conventionally, but when the stop valve is engaged, it automatically engages the Bb side full-time. The stop valve is not in the F side circuit. A very strange setup—I hope that I’ll have a chance to show it to you sometime!
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