Thanks Steve, that’s very good to hear–that my ramblings helped in any way.
It is interesting how the lips just need to be present to vibrate and to remember that the air column travels through the center of the aperture–so that is where the air interacts with the lips.
Someone else on this forum, I don’t recall unfortunately, mentioned on another thread the concept of a coffee stirrer or bar straw (the little thin straws they put in cocktail drinks) being held in their lips as they play above the staff. That helped me.
The reason I focus on Air is actually so I can focus primarily on Shape, actually.
I found it difficult to understand what changes in Shape we’re doing, what was working and what wasn’t. So I focused on using Passively released Air for a long time–to prevent my using Air as a crutch to kick and try to achieve a pitch.
I spent months primarily playing with Passively released air. I have no playing commitments, so that was a luxury I could afford. I think that helped me break some bad habits and helped me stop tensing up in the throat, neck, shoulders, etc. I still have to watch myself, but I rarely catch myself doing that anymore.
I treated my playing as sort of a science experiment–I wanted to rule out the impact of Air on my playing and use constant Air, then objectively observe what changes I made to Shape did to my sound, ability to play efficiently, etc.
Lately, I have been playing more music and have been starting to experiment a bit with using more Active Air.
But I still try to play softly and use Passive air when doing harmonic slurs and focusing on changing Shape.
I think that’s why Clarke and others wrote their exercises to be played very softly.
Then, once we have a concept of Shape, we can circle back and work on filling that shape with more Air, Actively supported air to increase the volume of the note, which will require a slight modification of shape (i.e. more open aperture).
Congrats on your success with your range. Hope you and yours have very happy holidays and 2021 is a great year for you.