You’re welcome, fmaziers. I’m no authority–I’m on this journey as well but hopefully my sharing my experiences with you was helpful.
At the end of the day, I think specifically what we need to do to play as efficently and as well as possible depends upon our personal physical characteristics (i.e. lips, teeth, etc.), gear (trumpet, mouthpiece) and what style we want to play in.
Ultimately, we’re interacting with an air column that is flowing through our body into the instrument–we need to do whatever we need to do to get our lip(s) vibrating at the velocity it needs to vibrate at to achieve the desired pitch. If we do too much (i.e. tighten too much, blow too hard, clamp down top-to-bottom), we interfere with that vibration.
What I need to do specifically may be slightly different from what you need to do.
Changing from a deeper to shallower mouthpiece has given me a different perspective a bit. Yesterday, I played my deeper mouthpieces for a bit and was able to play them and they felt good. But when I switched back to the shallow mouthpiece, I was able to play that as well.
Your post got me thinking about articulation–I played some scales yesterday.
You might want to experiment a bit with slightly different settings to see what works best for you–what gives you the best sound and feeling when you’re playing.
Greg mentions the 1% rule–everyone, now matter how great, should strive each day to gain increased efficiency and the best sound possible as ultimately that’s what it’s all about. Playing a high note that sounds like $%&*# isn’t what I’m looking for and I think it’s important we focus primarily on the sound as that will keep us on the right track.
If what you’re doing is negatively impacting your sound or ability to articulate, you might be overdoing something and may want to experiment with subtle changes that ease that up for you.
The Aaaahhh Ooooh is, I believe, more of an approach or mentality to get us focused on tightening the aperture (slightly, subtly, only as much as necessary) from the corners inward without clamping down from the top/middle–which cuts off the vibration as that is (I believe) the vibrating surface.
I try to think of the top middle of my lip vibrating in the air column as I’m playing and trying to keep that free by trying to keep that part of my lips relaxed.
You may also want to experiment with the various tonguings that Greg demonstrates as well–one of those may help you improve your staccato.