Mouthpiece Blues

Clark "Mumbles" Terry NYC July 6, 1976
Clark “Mumbles” Terry NYC July 6, 1976

Clark Terry is such a tasty player. On learning how to improvise, he said, “Imitate, assimilate, innovate.” Simple advice, harder to do, especially the “innovate” part.

Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice by Jonathan Harnum is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.

Here’s Clark Terry playing some serious trumpet, and then, a hilariously musical and virtuosic solo on mouthpiece. He makes that thing cry and wail and laugh. Some nice interplay with the band, too.

As you can see from the video, mouthpieces come in a bewildering array, and it can be tough to know what to buy, what to try, and how they all relate to one another. In my book, Sound the Trumpet: How to Blow Your Own Hornthere is a ton of good information on mouthpieces, including an explanation of what each part of the mouthpiece below does for your playing.

Scheme of trumpet mouthpiece in crossection: I...
(1) Inner rim diameter, (2) Rim width, (3) Rim contour, (4) Rim Edge, (5) Cup, (6) Throat, (7) Backbore, (8)Shank

Here’s a PDF of the Mouthpiece Information from the book. There is a handy chart that groups mouthpieces similarly, even though different manufacturers use different number/letter systems. Hope it helps clear things up for you a little.

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Enjoy the masterful mouthpiece playing of Clark Terry. After a super-tasty solo on the horn, around 1:30 he pulls out the mouthpiece and goes to town.

If you like him, or want to hear more and actually see the cat ripping it up on video, check out this YouTube compilation.

Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice by Jonathan Harnum is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.

 

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