I am trying to go through the whole Charles Colin Lip Flexibilities book. Here is an excerpt from the first exercise:

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There are two ways I could interpret this. Since this book is about building up to lip trills, and since later in the book he does not notate the bending required to perform the lip trill, I could bend each slurred set of notes, attempting to have no break between the partials. So bend, as smoothly as possible, from G to low C, then from G to middle C, and so forth.

The other option is to just play it pretty much "as written", allowing (and even encouraging) a definite break in the partials between G and low C, resulting so that instead of hitting each note between the two we explicitly try to just play the two specific notes indicated, just slurred and not tongued.

I know later in the book, when it actually gets to lip trilling, the idea is to have no break at all, but I'm unsure of what to do in these Vol. 1 exercises.

3 Answers 3


Here's some philosophy on lip slurs. I haven't played this book in particular, but as a brass specialist I can talk about lip flexibility in general; it's the same thing.

The ultimate goal of this is to have a clean transition between any two notes in different partials. This is the same whether you are trilling between two partials in a high register very quickly or jumping over many partials in the middle register.

I'm curious as to what you mean by "bending." This might just be a shorthand for a different notation, or a misinterpretation of some marking, but I can't think of a situation outside of jazz or modern extended techniques where you would need to "bend" a note on the trumpet. Trills do not require that.

What is being shown in this example is a pretty simple lip slur exercise. The notation indicates that every pair of notes should be tongued, slurring from the first to the second note of each pair with a continuous airstream.

One way to practice this at first would be to play on the mouthpiece alone by slowly glissing, or bending, from the first note to the next. This helps to encourage the right lip movement and continuous airstream. As this starts to feel comfortable you can speed it up, so that when you put the mouthpiece back into the instrument, the movement is so fast that you only play two pitches and don't hear anything in between. That's the objective, a clean, clear break between the G and the C.

The idea is to make the lip slur sound no different from a slur between two notes in the same partial with different fingerings. You can play two different notes in the same partial just by depressing a valve; this will give you a clean, clear break between the two notes, and they will be connected if you don't interrupt the airstream. Your goal is to make two notes in different partials with the same valve combination under a slur sound exactly the same way.

As you get to more advanced material, you will extend this by beginning to lip slur across partials. Consider a 6th between middle G and high E. Both of those notes are played open, but there is a partial in the middle for high C. When you slur between G and E, it should sound no different than slurring between G and C (and by extension, no different from playing two notes right next to each other with valves). When you first try this, you will almost certainly hear the C in between those two notes (because keep in mind, you shouldn't use the tongue to articulate a lip slur!). Your job is to minimize that partial in the middle to the point where it disappears entirely and you only hear the G and E when you slur between them. This is why practicing lip slurs is so important to brass players--it's our life blood.

Lip trills are just these techniques taken to their extreme in the upper register. You're going to start practicing them VERY SLOWLY, and should be aiming for the exact same kind of lip slur that you're practicing now: clean, clear breaks between notes. The only thing different is that lip slurs happen in the very high registers, where partials are only 1-2.5 semitones apart, and the slur is going to happen very fast.

  • Thanks, I asked a few other players today (in person) and this matches what they said. I'm particularly interested in being able to lip trill/"shake" the note in a jazz setting, and when I've listened to jazz lip trills I always heard them as "bent" between the two notes. For example, in this video it sounds, to me, as though he is "bending" between the two notes, not just playing them and allowing a break between. Everyone I've spoken with, however, indicates that I should practice as you've described.
    – mboratko
    May 26, 2012 at 18:02
  • Ahahaha, nice video. Yeah, classical lip trills are not as extreme as that, but it's the same technique. In the EXTREME upper register like that double C, the partials are so close together that they blend quite a bit, so it sounds like a continuous gliss. But the ONLY way to develop that much strength and control is to practice and perfect the lip slurs throughout the range of the trumpet.
    – NReilingh
    May 26, 2012 at 18:38

The notation for bending a note is a straight line connecting two notes or going off a note. A curved line, such as shown above, indicates a slur or legato (or phrase mark). Also, considering this is the first exercise of the book, it wouldn't make sense to have a note-bending exercise. This seems more of a warm-up.

See this question for examples of what bending a note looks like.

  • I realize that the notation here doesn't indicate to bend the note, but in essence this book is about teaching you how to lip trill which eventually will involve "bending" the note, in some sense. When he actually introduces lip trilling in Vol. 2, the notation is the same - no explicit bending notation is included, just the slur.
    – mboratko
    May 25, 2012 at 18:24
  • If the author doesn't explicitly direct bending the notes, I'd say don't bend them. It seems, from what you said, the author states later in the book that you should bend notes while lip trilling. If you were supposed to bend them in this exercise, he would probably have said so.
    – Luke_0
    May 25, 2012 at 18:33
  • My point is that later, when you are definitely supposed to bend notes, there is no explicit mention from the author that you should do so.
    – mboratko
    May 25, 2012 at 18:51
  • I see. It seems the notation could go either way. The author does not explicitly mention to bend it, as you say. There is no way to say "do it this way" and be sure of it. My advice would be to practice it both ways.
    – Luke_0
    May 25, 2012 at 18:56
  • Yes. It's a pretty famous book, so I'm hoping someone who has worked through it may be able to shed light on what is expected.
    – mboratko
    May 25, 2012 at 18:58

Bending the notes are very helpful with staying flexible and building a feel for the slots. Getting too rigid with 'slotting' is very dangerous in situations where pitch is shifting (big band concert, pop band etc...) and cracking notes can be attributed to this stiffness. Note bends also help with fluid shakes and other effects in the jazz band... So don't knock it until you try it. :)

  • 1
    Welcome to Music SE! Per the FAQ, I've removed your signature. Because your posts are always pre-signed, no use resigning them.
    – Luke_0
    Nov 12, 2012 at 19:47

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