|| The D.I.T. is not intended for the control of the mouthpiece or the instrument, but solely for the control of one's own playing.
D.I.T. is fixed on the mouthpiece the whole time and enables undisturbed daily practice, perfect and faultless playing, concert performance etc. In the physical and technical sense, the D.I.T. does not change the functioning or initial structure of mouthpieces and it does not have any effect on their initial characteristics. It is adapted so that it can be fixed onto any kind of world-famous brand of mouthpiece for all the brass instruments.
The D.I.T. has several functions:
1. Functioning of a mouthpiece: We achieve the functioning of a mouthpiece which is placed into a trumpet by setting the D.I.T. to the open position. In this position the air leaks through the opening on the mouthpiece on which the D.I.T. has been fixed. In the open position only the function of the mouthpiece is achieved, as if we were holding the mouthpiece in the hand or practising with the assistance of the B.E.R.P. – but without any disturbing elements, of course. Aliquot tones do not sound - they are not defined because the mouthpiece itself has no intonation. We define the intonation and the pitch of the tone ourselves by playing.
2. Functioning of an instrument: We achieve functioning of an instrument by setting the D.I.T. to the closed position. In this position all of the air blown into the mouthpiece enters the trumpet. The normal state is re-established because the D.I.T., when placed in its closed position, does not affect normal playing. The physical and technical characteristics of the instrument are once again activated. Aliquot tones sound, and the instrument sounds as required.
3. Middle positions: But both functions become one if you switch the D.I.T. to its half-open position. You play in exactly the same way, only that while playing you have constant control over intonation, control over playing with the mouthpiece and partial assistance from the instrument, because the additional air that comes into the instrument enables the physical characteristics of the brass instrument to be established. Many brass players who have become used to the D.I.T. very much like to practise in this way.
With D.I.T. we can control all the elements of brass playing, which are very important when practising:
a1. Centering – focusing the tone
a4. Tongue position
a9. Pivot – focal point
11. Changing mouthpieces
12. Changing instruments
13. Pedal tones
14. Posture of the instrument
1. Centering or Focusing the Tone
Centering or focusing the tone means playing precisely into the centre of a certain tone. This can be achieved by the appropriate vibration. For example, if we wish to play a sonorous A with the frequency of 440 Hz, we need the lips, with the assistance of the mouthpiece, to vibrate at the rate of 440 times per second. Throughout the entire history of brass playing we have not been able to directly control these vibrations without removing the mouthpiece for each individual tone. The D.I.T. has made it possible. The electronic tuner does not indicate the frequency of the vibration of the lips and the frequency of the sound of the mouthpiece when it is placed in the trumpet, but rather the frequency of the tone that we hear on the instrument. Many professional musicians – brass players who have tested the D.I.T. – have been unpleasantly surprised because the measurements indicated that the entering frequencies did not match the exit frequencies. The measurements indicated that some individuals centered the tone up to 80 Hz too high or, in rare cases, too low. How is this possible?
Let us consider, for example, a trumpeter who is playing a sonorous D2 on the C trumpet. The required frequency for this tone is 587.33 Hz (assuming A is 440 Hz). If we do not press the first valve, which is needed for the tone D2, there are two possibilities. One of two possible aliquot tones, C2 or E2, can sound, depending on the support of the airstream. If the support is not adequate C2 will sound, and if the support is stronger than required E2 will sound. But in both cases the tone will be “sick”, which means that it is not focused correctly. The only tone that will not be “sick” is the tone D2. Because of the direct control of lip vibration we can say that D. I. T. is a kind of a tuner for lip vibration. The tone that comes from the instrument sounds the most beautiful and has the clearest intonation when the input frequency is equal to the output frequency. Using the D.I.T., the input frequency is heard as the sound of the mouthpiece, while the output frequency is heard as a tone on the instrument.
Intonation is closely connected to the centering, or focusing, of the tone. If the tone is correctly focused it will sound intonationally pure and correct, provided that the instrument is optimally tuned. For example, if the piano is tuned to A equals 443 Hz and your instrument is tuned to A equals 400 Hz and you use the D.I.T., you have the unique possibility of tuning the instrument regardless of the fatigued or relaxed placement of the mouthpiece to the lips. Simply play a sonorous A (A equals 443 Hz) with the D.I.T. in the open position, so that you can hear an intonationally pure sound from the mouthpiece (if it sounds pure it must be equivalent to the sound of the piano), then switch the D.I.T. to the closed position and adjust the slide to the sound of the mouthpiece. In this way, regardless of the circumstances, your instrument will be correctly tuned. You will probably agree with the assertion that every brass player at some time or another asks himself what he is doing wrong to cause the sound to be too high or too low even when the instrument is tuned. The cause can be swollen lips or placement of the mouthpiece to the lips that is too fatigued or too relaxed; it can also be caused by inflammation or one’s general state of health. All of these factors will be reflected in the intonation and the tone. Despite all the possible problems, you can be one hundred percent sure that at any given moment, regardless of the unfavourable circumstances, you will focus the tone correctly if the intonation with the D.I.T. is correct. At every moment the D.I.T. enables immediate and complete control of intonation when playing your instrument. With daily practice with the D.I.T., intonation will be perfect at all the dynamic levels, provided the instrument is optimally tuned. If you practise playing on the D.I.T. at pianissimo dynamics, when switching to the instrument the correct vibration with the D.I.T. will enable intonationally pure playing. The pitch will not rise in the upper register - a very common problem when playing pianissimo. Playing will be intonationally pure.
The inclination of the mouthpiece, or the angle of incidence of the mouthpiece to the lips, is a component of brass playing that is extremely important for the successful development of a brass player.
The inclination is closely connected to the tongue position and, above all, to the physical constitution of the player. While testing the D.I.T., I found that the tone in the mouthpiece extinguishes, or sounds forced, if the inclination is not appropriate for the range in which we are playing. Since it is possible to play a glissando on the D.I.T., it is possible to determine whether the inclination is correct by ascertaining the position in which the brass player can play a glissando throughout his range. If the glissando is torn it means there is something wrong with the inclination, and I recommend practising with the D.I.T. in the range where the glissando is torn. In order to abolish this critical point, one should practise a glissando as if imitating the sound of an ambulance. If a brass player has no other problems and he manages to play a glissando throughout his range it means his inclination is completely correct.
4. Tongue Position
The tongue position in the oral cavity is, naturally, closely connected to the inclination. I will not polemicise about tongue placement, since this is an issue that has already been covered in many textbooks. If you can play a glissando throughout the range, your tongue must be functioning correctly and, given the successful glissando, the inclination must also be correct. Despite a successful glissando and the correct position of the tongue, a poor attack can still occur. For a good attack, the tongue position (height) for any given tone has to be the same for both legato and staccato. I am sure that with the D.I.T. you can immediately determine when the position of the tongue is incorrect.
If the tongue position is incorrect when playing a glissando, the glissando will be torn. If the tongue position is incorrect when playing an attack, you will not be able to execute it successfully with the D.I.T.. Brass players often make the mistake of thinking an incorrect attack is successful because the instrument conceals the deficiencies of the attack and the tone sounds even though the attack is not completely correct. Using the D.I.T., with an incorrect attack the tone cannot sound.
Playing glissandi is, in my opinion, the most important part of daily practice for every brass player. Working as a pedagogue, I found that in their first contact with the mouthpiece children like to imitate the siren of a fire engine, ambulance or police car. This is even easier with the D.I.T. because it enables the child to practise the correct posture of the instrument and normal playing conditions from the very beginning, even though only the mouthpiece makes a sound. If we switch the D.I.T. to the closed position during the playing of the little glissando-siren, the nearest aliquot tone sounds. In this way a child can learn his first basic tone, and it can be even improved by using the D.I.T..
The glissando is, therefore, a perfect practice to reach the desired goal for all brass players. For professional musicians, playing glissando throughout their range is an indicator that all the factors are working optimally. As you probably know, the glissando contains the entire frequency range, from the lowest to the highest tone. If a trumpeter plays a glissando from pedal C (65 Hz) to G3 (1568 Hz), we hear all of the tones from 65 Hz to 1568 Hz. The musicians who tested the D.I.T. found that for the first time in their lives they could play the whole tone spectrum on the mouthpiece while experiencing the same conditions as playing on the instrument. By that I mean the posture of the instrument, the position of the hands, the resistance while playing, the pressure on the lips, the inclination, “pivot”, the focus of the tone, the airstream etc. While playing a glissando slowly with the D.I.T., the consumption of air is optimal, because there is no need to waste extra energy in order to reach the goal. Because they are afraid of playing in the upper register, many brass players overdo the tension in every respect (excessive pivot, excessive height in the tongue position, excessive pressure, etc.). In so doing they waste their precious energy. These irregularities in tension are manifested as a skip from the lower to the upper register while playing a glissando with the D.I.T.. This means that the glissando is torn. In order to prevent the glissando from tearing, it is necessary to synchronise all of the elements. The same synchronisation is required when playing a glissando from the upper to the lower register.
6. The Air Column
The air column and the constantly correct dosage of air are required for the support of correct playing. I will not go into details about diaphragmatic inhalation, since there has already been a lot written on the subject (although regretfully little of use). To play a glissando successfully you need the correct dosage of air.
You cannot play a glissando on the D.I.T. without proper support of the airstream, even with the correct inclination and tongue position. So the D.I.T. constantly reminds you that suitable air support is needed for good playing.
It is impossible to play without pressure. Pressure is closely connected to the dynamics and the register in which we play, as well as to the resistance of the instrument. The pressure of the mouthpiece on the lips reduces with increased proficiency of playing. The D.I.T. enables equalised pressure in the open or closed position, regardless of the register or dynamics in which we play.
The resistance when playing with the D.I.T. is almost exactly the same as that when playing the instrument. But why almost? While resistance changes with the everyday changing of instruments (Bb, C, D, picc. trumpet), the difference in the resistance when playing with the D.I.T. is negligible. In this respect, the D.I.T. is not comparable to the B.E.R.P., which offers much greater resistance than playing an instrument or playing on the D.I.T. All brass players know it is much more difficult to play any brass instrument in the upper register than in the lower.
After testing the D.I.T., many of the test brass players (trumpeters, trombone players, horn players, tuba players) asked me whether I could also play with more ease in the upper register when playing on the D.I.T.. The answer is yes, because the D.I.T. enables the correct focusing of the tone. In the chapter “Focusing or Centering the Tone” I wrote that many brass players center the tone too high. In so doing they literally waste their energy.
There is no wasting extra energy when using the D.I.T. because the tone is correctly focused. This is precisely why players have the feeling that playing in the upper register is easier - and it truly is easier.
9. Pivot – the Focal Point
In my opinion, pivot is often misunderstood. There are as many good theories of pivot as there are good pedagogues; but unfortunately there are just as many bad theories as there are bad pedagogues. I think pivot is the consequence of natural characteristics, connected to the physical constitution of the individual brass player. Pivot is, therefore, directly connected to the angle of incidence of the mouthpiece to the lips, and to the centering of the tone. Pivot is the automatic changing of the angle of incidence of the mouthpiece while playing, if the tone is correctly focused. Pivot is present also when playing with the D.I.T., but almost imperceptibly. By daily practice of the instrument with the assistance of the D.I.T. I found that pivot is reduced to a minimum which, in my opinion, is our goal.
Banding is a good exercise for a good brass player, but it is damaging for a bad brass player. It should be mentioned that many pedagogues recommend banding to the brass players who have certain problems, but with banding these problems increase because they lose the sensation of centering the tone if the foundations of playing are not well set. With the D.I.T., the practice of banding is simply not needed, because each tone played is precisely defined and focused with regard to the player's own wish, above or below the centre of the given tone. This means that playing with the D.I.T. enables banding by switching from the open to the closed position without any special additional practice. I could say that playing banding on the instrument is not necessary because the D.I.T. demands total control over the tongue position and the air column.
11. Changing Mouthpieces
I have never been in favour of changing mouthpieces because I have never had any particular problems in either the upper or lower register. Despite the fact that many brass players do not have problems, they like to change their mouthpieces in order to reach the desired goal.
When changing mouthpieces, many of these brass players feel that the mouthpiece is suddenly blocked. A blockage in the upper register often occurs when changing mouthpieces if we try to reach the desired goal too fast. The blockage can appear because of many different factors, e.g., excessive pivot, excessive pressure, the tongue being raised too quickly, incorrect inclination in the base etc. While testing the D.I.T., I found that it was much easier to change mouthpieces because the D.I.T. enables immediate correct focusing of the tone. With the help of the glissando I can establish the proper tension and synchronise all the factors required for playing the instrument.
12. Changing Instruments
Since I am a trumpeter I will give the example of the changing to different trumpets. We all know that the sensation of playing is different for each instrument and needs some adjustment.
With the D.I.T., changing instruments becomes a pleasure, because on each instrument we can play the same exercises that we play on our basic instrument. For some people their basic instrument is the Bb trumpet, for others it is the C trumpet. While testing the D.I.T. I carried out a 14 day experiment with the daily warm-up practices on the piccolo trumpet, because with the D.I.T. it is possible to play the same exercises on the piccolo trumpet in the whole range of the basic instrument. During the experiment, I found that the sensation after the warm-up was perfect, and after having played for only 10 minutes with the D.I.T. I felt I was ready for the challenges required by the piccolo trumpet. In jest, I can say that on the D.I.T. tuba players can play piccolo trumpet parts, and piccolo trumpet players can play tuba parts!
13. Pedal Tones
Pedal tones are useful, when they are played correctly. The greatest dilemma when playing pedal tones is the fingering. Some pedagogues suggest the use of all three valves, but many others insist upon playing pedal tones without the valves. The fingering is not important for playing the pedal tones with the D.I.T.. I found that, in comparison with the D.I.T., playing pedal tones on an instrument is more difficult if I play without the valves, but that seems wrong because I sense the change in the musculature and in the dosage of air. This is literally wasting energy needlessly. After using the D.I.T., I am convinced that the correct fingering for playing pedal tones is that which equates with the sensation of playing pedal tones with the D.I.T.. In view of the fact that many pedagogues suggest playing pedal tones without the valves, I wonder why none of them have suggested playing the tones in the upper register without the valves. Here the physics work - the tube length and the wavelength of the tone.
14. Posture of the instrument
Until now, either the mouthpiece had to be held in the hand or the B.E.R.P. had to be used. The lead trombone player of the Slovenian Philharmonic, Domen Jeraša, told me after testing the D.I.T.: “Playing with the D.I.T. is like driving a Mercedes, while in all the other cases playing on a mouthpiece is like driving a car in the rain without the windscreen wipers turned on - we need to stop, step out of the car, wipe the windscreen by ourselves, and then continue driving.”
Illustrated by Anja Tolar.