Thanks E.h., I hope my posts and Gregs videos are helpful.
I’m still on this journey myself and figuring it out, but found that when I let go of my expectations and made it a point to be an objective Observer with no focus on the result–not caring about whether I successfully hit the note I was aiming for but caring more about making sure I was using passively released air, which still provides strong support, it really helped me focus on relaxing my throat and embouchure and observing how solely the change of Shape impacted pitch and allowing me to separate Air (needed for Volume and Duration) from Shape (which determines pitch).
I spent a lot of time doing harmonic slurs with passively released air and No abdominal support. I focused on speed, efficiency /ease and resonance of sound and did some harmonic slur exercises at soft volumes up to High C (Schlossberg Ex 32, I think). The concept of less air being required the higher we ascend and letting go of whether or not I hit the note and just focusing on Process, not Results helped me.
Many times, I had unexpected success and would get excited and carried away with my newfound range and ease of playing and focus my next session not on the Process which had led me to where I was, but on my increased Expectations and desire for even higher Results, which ironically but (in hindsight) logically failed.
Playing trumpet is a bit of a paradox, it seems. I saw a YouTube video of a trumpet player for NY Opera, I think (brass chats?) and he mentioned the paradoxes and how the only way to get control is to let go–I like that a lot as it does seem counterintuitive to me as well.
I used to tighten up my lips and blow harder, tightening my throat and fighting against the instrument.
Now it feels more like I relax into it and ride the air column upward, opening up the aperture as much as possible to increase the resonance which is surprisingly loud with minimal air above the staff. There is more back pressure at higher pitches, but if you don’t fight it and try to blow down the brick wall and instead cooperate with that pressure and sort of use it to your advantage (I.e. shallower / higher compression mouthpiece), its amazing the volume of sound you can get up there with less air than what would be required at lower pitches.
Don’t get me wrong, its not always roses and sunshine and unicorns, I have bad days and I’m not consistent with my practice and time is limited, but I’ve been on a good roll again lately and feel as though I’m reaching another level of understanding how this instrument works. It feels more of a cooperation than a battle lately and the results are better.
And the guideposts Greg has laid out have been the key for me–the course, but also:
1. Less air is required the higher we play
2. We want the air to interact with our lips like our vocal chords do when we sing ( we don’t tighten or engage our vocal chords to sing higher). If we do, its harder and doesnt sound good
3. Passive oscillation – checking occasionally as I ascend to see when I went from passive vibration of the lips with passively released air (mezzo forte or mezzo piano) by pulli g the mouthpiece out of the horn while I was playing.
I think the main thing I have going for me that has gotten me to where I’m at is that I have separated in my mind the difference between Shape changing pitch and Air, which is used for Volume and Duration (playing louder and/or longer).
Not tensing my lips or throat when I play higher is key too, as is not caring whether I miss or not–which i rarely do anyway.