Ha, I love that “Ear Technique” video, that’s great fun.
The video Greg posted the link to regarding compression is great, I remember this from the course: https://player.vimeo.com/external/311590369.hd.mp4?s=eb66536dbafbb12dec978fd17ae3dc445cae96e8&profile_id=175
Greg’s post above is great, of course, and spot on. I have watched countless hours of videos on YouTube and have enjoyed Larry Meregillano’s videos–he is clearly a “monster” player, is very accomplished, has studied personally with some of the all time greatest players/teachers and has forgotten more about playing trumpet than I’ll ever know.
But, FWIW, my $.02 is that it depends on WHY you want to compression and build strength and where you’re at as a player and what your goals are.
If you have already developed a keen sense of awareness of the balance of Shape and Air and can play with relative ease to your desired range, but are looking for a way to increase your ability to play louder, longer, etc. then perhaps it might be a good idea.
If you are like I was, not satisfied with range, experiencing poor endurance, limited control of dynamics and clearly fighting against myself while playing, then I think it would not be a good idea.
Larry appears to play rather loudly–he’s clearly very strong and powerful. But he’s also probably very efficient and is compressing air through an efficient aperture/embouchure–which is a separate matter.
If one were to rely on a system of developing power to achieve range, that would be problematic in my opinion–like putting a bigger engine into a car that doesn’t have the proper infrastructure to go as fast as the bigger engine can go, etc.
I have been tempted to focus more on my range but have resisted that and have focused on my ease of playing, sound and how things feel (freely, open) and I am thankful for having had the patience of doing that. I can’t play like Larry, but the freedom I feel and the ease of playing up above the staff is even more remarkable than what I first experienced a couple years ago.
The other day, I was playing an exercise in Schlossberg that was new to me, #38 (page 11) which alternates intervals starting at mf below the staff to pp above the staff, up to a High C and D. When going for the D at (PP), I focused intently on keeping my throat open and keeping relaxed–I didn’t care at all what happened, only that I played it the way I knew I should. Interestingly, I felt the “weight” of the air I was releasing through the aperture and experimented a bit with compression using the embouchure and tongue and I skipped way past the D and wound up probably at F#, G or even higher and the note was resonant and although I was aiming for playing it softly (pp), the note sounded loud as it was open and resonant. It was kind of a coffee moment for me, but I need to go back and play that exercise again and spend some time with that and figure out mouth compression. Less Air is required to achieve the pitch the higher we play; the aperture is smaller and tongue arch helps / is important.
Lately, I have been having great experience starting my day exhaling through the trumpet first with my lips around the outside of the mouthpiece, feeling the resistance that the horn gives back against the air. Then again, with my lips in the mouthpiece, but now with an embouchure formed to produce a note but to be as close to that as possible while trying to avoid the lips from vibrating / producing a tone–it’s actually kind of hard, which is probably a good thing, but it’s even more resistance than blowing through the horn with your lips on the outside of the mp.
I’ve also been focusing a bit on “getting comfortable” playing above the staff, focusing my attention on staying relaxed and keeping things open, the only engagement in the corners of the aperture/embouchure, outside of the mouthpiece / away from the vibrating surface.
I’ve been taking some of the Clarke exercises up an octave (i.e. Clarke First and Second technical studies). I try to form the aperture necessary to produce a pitch but avoid any extraneous tension. I try to focus on quality of sound and play softly, letting the weight of the air passing through the aperture (passive compression) do the work for me. The higher I go, the more aware of this “weight” of the air I can feel and thoughts about experimenting with the compression of that air using my mouth have been entering my mind, but that’s not what the exercises I have been playing are about so I haven’t done much with that yet.
Eventually, I will focus more of my time/attention on compression and Active Air, but lately I have been achieving some rather loud, resonant, full / free notes above the staff without a lot of air as I have realized that I still had unnecessary engagement / tension going on.
For me, I found certain musical passages that I played were, for some reason, very efficient; so I started using those each day to check in with myself as I started the day to see if I could still play it that way, then try to connect that way of playing to other passages / exercises I was struggling more with. I think this has helped me quite a bit to become more and more efficient, consistent, etc. It has been feeling more and more like I am kind of singing up there and can do just about anything I want–I’m not saying I’m screaming out super high notes, but I can play musically and with dynamic control higher than I thought I would be able to.
I think playing is more about efficiency than strength or compression. It’s more about coordination.
I recall when I was young, taking lessons from some reputable well known teachers / players, the approach was repetition to build strength. Granted, in their defense, this was over 30 years ago…I’m not blaming them for my failure.
But I wouldn’t want you to experience what I did–trying to power through inefficiencies by building strength / using more air, as I was told.
THAT doesn’t work, nor does using someone’s “system”. That’s what I love about Greg’s approach / WindWorks, is it’s not a series of exercises that you play then suddenly you’re playing a Double C…it doesn’t work that way.
We all must figure it out on our own, how to balance Air and Shape and do so in the best way possible to optimize efficiency and sound.
Also, doing exercises to build strength with an inefficient embouchure is not a good idea–players have cut their lips and had all sorts of awful physical injuries from trying to power through things.
Personally, I realize now that the way I was playing when I was younger was so inefficient that I was literally tearing myself down in a short amount of time and didn’t allow myself ever to fully recover / build endurance. I was working against myself in so many ways. I wouldn’t want you, or anyone, to go through that.
My advise would be to proceed with caution. But I am sure Larry has a lot to offer students and I enjoy reading / listening to other players’ thoughts, recommendations, etc.
Anyway, those are my thoughts FWIW–good luck, I hope that’s helpful. Let us know how things go either way, it’s helpful to the rest of us on this journey of discovery!