WindWorks Trumpet Academy Forums WindWorks What do you do every day? Reply To: What do you do every day?


Sorry to hear you’re hitting a wall, I know how that feels sometimes.

I’m probably not the best person to ask or advise as I am an amateur comeback player just doing this for fun; I have no playing commitments or resonsibilities, and I have limited time to practice. Like today, I was pretty swamped at work and now I’m tired and probably won’t play at all. I do play most days, and I have managed to work myself up to a range I never thought possible for myself, which has opened up my ability to play music I’ve never thought possible. I don’t have a lot of power, but I believe that’s because I spent a lot of time focusing on passive air to learn how to change pitch as efficiently / effectively as possible and haven’t focused on air support / volume yet.

I don’t play MTM exercises everyday, honestly; however, I do think about the principles every time I play. And I always find value in the MTM exercises when I go back and play them and wish I did spend more time doing them. Lately, I have been thinking I should go back through again–it’s always been beneficial each time.

For me, it wasn’t the exercises that gave me my “coffee moment(s)”, it was the principles of owning my own process, of experimenting with no expectation of result, of passive air, engaging the aperture corners inward towards the center of the mouthpiece/ air column horizontally from the sides (rather than clamping top-to-bottom and pinching the lips like a clam), of there being less air required the higher we play, the 1% rule, etc.

One of the things I would like to improve on in 2020 is to structure my practice–I have been “winging it” a bit and going by feel somewhat.

Typically, I start each day by playing G on the staff as a long whole note. I just try to put my lips on the MP in a natural, relaxed setting and release air with a breath attack and hold it out, seeing how things feel. Then I move up, then back down to the G, then down, wider and wider to about low C and middle C. If things aren’t feeling good / are feeling weird, I may do a little lip bending or leadpipe for 5 minutes or so.

I then do some Stamp scales just from D or E on the staff down to low F#, although I’ve been doing pedals lately now.

From there, I usually do harmonic slurs starting from valve combination 123 from low F# up to maybe C# or E on the staff, then ascend all the way up through the combinations. Then I do them again but go all the way up to the F# at the top of the staff. If I’m feeling good, I might go further on up but I try to take it easy in the beginning on not make this a range exercise.

After that, I usually do some Clarke scales to get some articulation in (Technical Studies or Setting Up Drills).

Depending on how I feel after that, I might do Schlossberg flexibilities (#31).

I try to play some music too, depending on how I feel and my time available and whether it’s late and I’m playing with a mute in, etc.

After that, I do some range exercises (not every day)–usually harmonic slurs up through the valve combinations, trying to focus on efficiency and only moving as much as necessary, not kicking the air. I’ve worked up to where I can go from the low F# to C# above High C with the 123 combination, then come back down and go up the next combination, etc. I’m pretty solid through Eb or E with valve combinations 23 and 12, but then don’t always get the F, F# and G with 1, 2 and 0 valve combinations. But honestly, I haven’t focused a lot on range and haven’t been consistent. And, honestly, I’m pretty happy with that range, I find myself playing mostly classical type stuff and moved to a 1 1/2C MP. I’ve farted around with shallow / lead mouthpieces, but I don’t like playing them and just move back to the 1 1/2C and like the sound and that MP makes me want to play different stuff.

I do enjoy the bright jazzy / lead stuff, but the other seems to come more naturally to me and I think I figure I can develop that later.

I spend a lot of time focusing on the sensation of when I’m playing and thinking about whether it feels as efficient / natural as possible or if I can do anything to improve that or the resonance of the sound.

I feel fortunate that I am relatively confident that I understand what it is I’m supposed to be doing and things go well more than they don’t. And when they don’t, I realize quicker what it is I’m doing or not doing sooner than before.

One thing that happened recently is I’ve been experimenting a lot on the whole efficiency / less is more thing, and I watched another player on YouTube play and it was amazingly effortless-looking. But somehow I think a combination of watching him and trying to play effortlessly, I started struggling a bit with range suddenly and realized I was using a sort of smile embouchure suddenly in the upper register, as opposed to pushing the aperture corners/lips inwards/forward. It was weird, but I realized it quickly and adjusted and got back to where I left off.

One thing that helped me really understand how to play relaxed was focusing in on using Passive air–that is key, otherwise you can be using your air to kick the air to change pitch and overcome inefficiencies in your embouchure. I spent a lot of time releasing passive air and changing pitch without articulation doing harmonic slurs, especially C on the staff to E as those notes aren’t very high (low risk of straining, clamping) and are relatively close together (vs Low C to G on staff is a 5th apart). I focused my attention on engaging the aperture to change pitch, then would expand that wider and wider in harmonic slurs. If there is one key to range, that’s it IMHO.

The other key for me was playing Softer in above the staff and changing pitch just by tightening the aperture from the sides, leaving the middle of the lips relaxed like the ligature on a reed or the ring around a drum head–we want our lips relaxed (drum head / reed) and the aperture corners engaged (ligature / ring around the drum head).

One thing I focused on, especially since I primarily focused on harmonic slurs, was the harmonic series–I printed one off for my music stand and saw how close together the harmonics are once you get above the staff. The harmnonic below High C, is Bb, above High C is D, then E, then F# then G–they get closer and closer together and LESS AIR IS REQUIRED THE HIGHER WE PLAY… That helped me a lot with visualization, relaxation, experimentation, etc.

The thing where you pull the MP out while you’re playing the horn helped me catch when I was too tight and getting an active buzz rather than a sympathetic buzz. To be honest, I think I only made it usually to about E on the staff that way usually when I checked, but I do recall one day feeling fantastic and checking and that was on a G above the staff. But I think it helped me progress on my range.

Relaxing my throat and not tensing up was difficult. I had to literally avoid Clarke chromatic scales for months, maybe a year, due to many years of playing those wrong. I spent months using mainly breath attacks and slurs as well, as I struggled tensing when I articulated. I still need to work on my articulation, but it’s much better and I can play

Believing is very important. I believed I was no different physically than anyone else who played, including the great players; I believe it’s just coordination and that’s something I can learn to do. I believe it’s simply a physical thing, getting my lips in the right place in the right formation with the right amount of air.

I don’t believe it requires a ton of strength to play high, at least not at mezzo forte or piano; playing high loudly requires more air support / body engagement, which I do need to develop now.

Finding some music that I was interested in playing that included some notes above the staff for me to play musically. I haven’t spent much time trying to play louder stuff above the staff (i.e. Big Band / lead stuff), I’ve focused more on lyrical / classical type stuff. I found it fun / easy to focus on some soundtrack music that featured trumpet as they’re short things that don’t take a long time to play and aren’t too technical / complicated and I enjoy playing them, enjoy the music / can focus on getting a resonant sound to determine how efficiently I’m playing.

I also do the “Secret WindWorks Routine”–I have about an hour commute each way to work. I used to, and still do occasionally, listen to Greg’s Youtube videos about playing and think about playing, do some whistling / tongue arching stuff. I listed to some others as well, but the others I found useful reinforced WindWorks principles/concepts.

I’m very grateful to WindWorks / Greg for how far I’ve come the past couple years. When I was younger, played in school and took lessons, I could barely get above the staff–an A above the staff was only on a good day in optimal conditions. Never touched a high C before. Now I can play those notes with what seems / feels like relative effortless, and do so musically, relatively relaxed. And I can do so consistently. I don’t get that tired when I play like I did when I was younger. Most days, I can get back up to the top of my range at the end of my practice session without feeling like I’m tired or straining more than at the beginning. That’s now how it was when I was younger, my range and endurance was very fleeting, it didn’t last long and it limited my ability to play / made me insecure about performances, playing commitments, etc.

Hope that helps, FWIW. Good luck!

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