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The Method

THE PIVOT SYSTEM  is a scientific, practical, proven method of producing the utmost in range, power, endurance and flexibility on the trumpet, trombone and all other cupped-mouthpiece brass instruments. This system, working on tried and tested principles, first of all analyzes and diagnoses the physical equipment of the player and then presents a specific, concrete set of rules and procedures which enable the individual to utilize, with the greatest possible efficiency, the lips, teeth, gums, jaws, and general anatomy with which he is naturally endowed. The study of the PIVOT SYSTEM  is absolutely essential for all brass instrument performers because strict adherence to a musical approach deprives the student of basic mechanical necessities which are vital to his uninterrupted improvement on the instrument.
-Reinhardt, Encyclopedia of the Pivot System, 1973 page XI.

(The following is an excerpt from an article by Dr. David Wilken and will be linked for its entirety when available.)

It is important to reiterate that the goal of the Pivot System is to allow the brass student to work with his or her physical anatomy in the most efficient manner possible. Where other popular brass methods take a more rigid approach to brass playing, the Pivot System utilizes an approach that is catered to each unique individual.

It is this personalized approach that may be responsible for more confusion and misunderstanding about the Pivot System. Advice given to one student may directly contradict with advice given to another. Often times Reinhardt's instructions to a single student would conflict with previous instructions according to this student's level of development. This apparently contradictory advice has caused many to unfairly dismiss the Pivot System.

The Three Primary Playing Factors

Although the Pivot System is named after the embouchure motion Reinhardt referred to as a "pivot" (to be discussed later in this article), the system as a whole takes into account what Reinhardt called the three primary playing factors. These are the entire embouchure formation (including the lips, mouth corners, cheeks, and entire facial area), the tongue and its manipulation, and the breathing. The goal of the Pivot System is to coordinate all three factors so that they function properly as a synchronized unit. These three playing factors will vary in importance according to the stage of development of the student.

Where many methods place primary importance on breathing, Reinhardt felt that focusing on correcting playing faults by breathing alone was to be likened to a woodwind player playing on a bad reed. "If a very fine oboist selects an excellent instrument but uses a defective reed, the results will suffer regardless of whether his breathing is correct or incorrect. The same holds true in brass playing!" (Reinhardt, Encyclopedia of the Pivot System, page 6).

Here again is an example of how Reinhardt's instructions often seemed contrary from student to student. Where Reinhardt might suggest to one student to focus on a particular aspect of breathing to the other he would advise working on embouchure or tonguing. This wasn't because his instruction was untested and in flux, but because he recognized the stage of development for each particular student and precisely understood the focus necessary to achieve the most benefit for each student.

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