I think the drawstring analogy is a great example and think Brian’s post is very good.
Precisely WHAT we should be doing is dependent upon our individual physiology; however, the way I understand it is that we are reducing the size of the aperture gradually as we ascend to create a higher pitch.
The tongue arches as well, but I believe that Greg says that’s more of a secondary factor and helps with resonance/tone than a primary factor in determining pitch itself.
Lately, I have been having some newfound success focusing on my harmonic slurs and really focusing intently on the quality / resonance of the tone of each pitch before moving on to the next, rather than just hammering through them bluntly.
I’ve been experimenting this way to identify the optimal Shape for each pitch–what size aperture, how tight are my corners, where is my tongue, etc. I make small adjustments until I’m satisified with the sound then move up and down and back again, trying to make each tone as good as the last throughout my range and try to find the easiest way to achieve the pitch as well (less is more, efficiency, etc.).
It is very important to separate obtaining the Pitch from the use of Air (needed for Volume and Long tones).
If you have done this well, then your tone should be good above the staff and should be able to play with somewhat relative ease up to High C and a little beyond (we’re all probably slightly different).
But my understanding is also that starting around a D above High C, the trumpet starts to become an amplifier of the mouthpiece buzz; we move away from a sympathetic vibration, which is important up to that point to maximize resonance/efficiency, towards a vibration directly created by the lips buzzing together within the mouthpiece.
And there is more and more resistance the higher we ascend. It’s important not to over-blow. To maximize resonance above High C. At some point beyond there, I do think actively supporting with air is important to the sound; we’re all slightly different. I believe this is consistent with what Greg describes in WW off the top of my head, but anyone correct me if I’m wrong here.
Bottom line is that Objective Experimentation (experimenting with no pre-conceived desire of the outcome or emotional attachment thereto) of Shape with Passively released air helps us determine what Shape is needed to achieve each Pitch.
Then, we combine that Shape with good quality Air, depending upon what we want to play (i.e. Loud, Long tone).
We need to avoid the common trap of using our Air to play higher–powering through an inefficient aperture/embouchure, etc. We should continuously strive for an optimal sound and feeling of playing. When things are going well, it feels very easy even above the staff and the sound is optimal then.
One thing I’ve been doing lately is looking at the mouthpiece and noticing how small the inner rim is (I play a 3C, not a very small mouthpiece); we have a relatively small area to work with and we can’t see what it is we’re doing.
It helps me to think of things being compact. It doesn’t take a lot more energy to form a smaller aperture than a larger aperture. We don’t need to squeeze the aperture tight; that cuts off the air–as Greg says, our lips win everytime.
Lately, and I could be wrong, but I’ve been getting the feeling that the tightness in my corners are actually to push open the aperture / keep the roof from collapsing rather than trying to close the aperture. I think this is correct. I think when things are going well, I’m actually using the muscles surrounding the lips and not engaging the lip muscles themselves–I’m keeping those loose/relaxed to interact with the air column and vibrate as fast as possible (higher pitch). So I think it’s kind of a tug-of-war motion with the muscles where I’m reducing the aperture while I’m pushing back to keep the aperture from collapsing.
This reminds me of a video I saw a couple years ago from Doc that talked about this. I don’t think anything in this contradicts WindWorks or anything Greg explains but will let Greg/others respond.
This is just what I’m experiencing as I continue to refine how I play and become more and more efficient and capable, etc.
At times I have struggled and have not been happy with my tone or ease of playing. Usually at those times it’s because I found that I was doing too much to try to obtain the pitch. I was tightening the corners inwards too horizontal into too much of an unnatural pucker, rather than keeping the aperture more rounded and centered and/or tightening my throat a little or tensing a little, taking away from the resonance. A drumhead with your hand on it doesn’t resonate as much as one that’s free to vibrate.