Donald Reinhardt’s Pivot System Orientation and Analysis Audio

A number of years ago I was given a cassette tape of Donald Reinhardt talking about his “orientation and analysis” to his pedagogical approach to teaching. Apparently he was giving very similar talks to all of his students during their first lesson and he figured that if he recorded it that a new student could listen to this while waiting for their lesson time. This made it quicker for Reinhardt to jump right in and begin personalizing the student’s instructions and also allowed him to be teaching one student while the new student was listening to the tape.

The first portion of the tape was to introduce his students to the basics of his approach. Many of the things he discussed were already written out on sheets of paper that may have been handed out and followed along while listening to the tape, but not having studied directly with Reinhardt I’m not certain. The second part of the tape is Reinhardt discussing his Pivot System Manuals for trumpet and trombone and some of the specific instructions, many of which were not written in the book itself.

Keep in mind that these recordings are in many ways a snapshot of how Reinhardt happened to be teaching at that time. If you read through many of the descriptions and instructions from the Pivot System Manuals, originally published in the 1940s, and compare them to his Encyclopedia of the Pivot System, first published in the 1970s I believe, you’ll not that he changed quite a bit. Towards the end of his life I understand that he had changed much of his approach quite a bit from what you can hear in these tapes. For example, he changed the definition of the term “pivot” and had apparently regretted even using the term “pivot system” because it led to a lot of misunderstanding of what he was trying to do with his pedagogy. I also understand that he also expressed less concern for exactly what a student played when practicing mechanics, but was more specific about exactly how the student was supposed to play it. He didn’t specifically ask students to follow each group of exercises, practicing one group each day, but rather assigned exercises based on what the student needed at that particular time.

At any rate, here are the links to the tracks. If you’re interested in the Pivot System Manuals they are out of print in their original form now, an edited version of them for trumpet and trombone are currently available.

What is the proper attitude?
What is the improper attitude?
Phases of the Pivot System
Pivot System for Mechanics
The Encyclopedia of the Pivot System
Introduction to the Sensation Theory
The Sensation Theory
The left hand grip
What is the Pivot System
The thirty-five points of the Pivot System
The Pivot Stabilizer
An open mind
Building reserve

Basic Pivot Manual instructions
Form Studies
Pivot Manual order
Get a pencil
Instruction for trombonists
Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Group 4
Group 5
Group 6 for trumpet
Group 6 for trombone
Group 7 for trumpet
Group 7 for trombone
Group 8 for trumpet
Group 8 for trombone
Group 9 for trumpet
Group 9 for trombone
Group 10 for trombone
Group 11 for trombone
Pivot System Warm-Up 57

You might notice that there are only nine groups of exercises for trumpet and eleven for trombone. The additional two groups for trombone are exercises designed to increase slide facility.

John Replogle

Hi Wilktone!

The warm up 57 clip doesn’t work. It’s the wrong clip. It’s the 11th day for trombone. Can you fix this? Would love to hear more about warm up 57. Thank you so much!


Jorge Callico

I’ve always been fascinated by Reinhardt’s work. Probably because I’ve always been an “outside the box thinker” myself.

In recent years however Ive turned almost exclusively to the Stevens-Costello system for both my own answers and those of my students. It’s too bad that Doc did not like Roy very much. As Roy was able to produce so many super-human strength trumpet players.

I have it in good authority that Doc insinuated that Roy wss misleading others by declaring himself a “doctor of embouchure”. And while it is true that no such degree exists the fact remains that Roy absolutely healed many trumpet players. Inc me albeit ling after Roy’s death. And I believe that Columbia Univ bestowed at least some kind of honorary doctorate on Stevens.

Also Roy was always a trumpet player. Self taught. Capable of fantastic range. Quadruple C in fact. Often much higher.

Whereas Doc was a trombonist. As such I don’t believe that his understanding of the mechanics was as complete. After all the trombone, euphonium, tuba, and bass trombone are much easier instruments than trumpet. Esp when we calculate all the failed lead trumpet players.

Similarly Doc’s claim that the was “something wrong with the playing mechanics of any trumpet player who did not have a useable concert pitch F above High C”.

Is something I near vehemently disagree with. For many years as a “downstream” trumpet I indeed did have a solid, useable concert F/High C concert pitch.

And yet I contend that my own embouchure was seriously remiss. Kinda odd when we think about this because most of my trumpet playing peers envied my range.

It wasn’t until I nearly had to quit playing and yet was literally forced to try the Stevens approach one more time that it finally sunk in.

But I wish Dave goodwill. And my support. He too likes to “think outside the box”. Both Doc’s and his approaches do technically work. Which is much more than we can say about the rest of the many chop “gurus” and systems. .


Hi, Jorge.

Thanks for your message. I’m glad you are finding success with your current approach. It would be interesting to see how your chops are looking, if you’re willing and able to post video for others to check out.

I don’t know anything about a feud between Stevens and Reinhardt. You will have to correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that Stevens claimed that making a player upstream was accomplished by raising the horn angle, which is not correct. I also believe that he encouraged a “low placement” setting with more lower lip inside the mouthpiece, which would provide the conditions to allow a musician to play upstream. All that said, I also believe that Stevens wanted all his students to switch to upstream, which would work great if you happened to be an upstream players. However, most musicians don’t have the anatomy that makes an upstream embouchure work best. Perhaps their disagreement was based on some of these points.

You should go over to the Trumpet Herald and communicate with Lionel over there. You both seem to have a lot in common. 🙂


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