Hey Rod, SHAPE is the head bit. Face, lips, jaw, tongue, all the bits above the neck that affect pitch. Believe it or not, I dont want to get too analytical about that.
It’s just a way of getting people away from the “blow harder to play higher” mentality and disregarding what the face is doing completely.
Let’s just say as a super condensed overview of SHAPE that the lips and tongue must position change slightly on every single note. Often people don’t recognise this movement so will swear black and blue that it is NOT happening. An understanding of it and a recognition of it is super helpful.
I have been in my studio with a very famous lead trumpeter and high note specialist and he was doing and teaching exactly that. He was all about the air with no idea about what his face was doing. Let me tell you, his face is like a finely tuned Formula One car, he doesn’t have to think about it.
His sensation of playing in the upper register was the body below the neck is working harder. BTW, he was playing fff and to generate that volume the body MUST work more but it is NOT what is determining the pitch. This is the problem.
It was incredible playing but of course the student he was teaching, trying to replicate what he was doing using the instruction he was given, was choking, straining and doing all kinds of morbidly inefficient things because the demonstration implied, more air more air more air, and of course forcing more air through an incorrect SHAPE is futile.
My main interest in SHAPE is the aperture corners and recognising how they affect pitch and what they need to do when getting louder. Then there is tongue position and the jaw. The tongue changes the sound quality. In the low register it will find the right position based on your idea of sound.
So it could be argued to use the “idea of sound” approach all over the horn, and I agree, if it works! However, as anyone who is here at this site will know, that is simply not the case. I am drawing attention to the tongue to enable people to break through their ceilings. The awareness of these things can help eliminate the instinctive desire to fix every problem by simply blowing harder.
I like that you mentioned the lower jaw, that is recommended to draw the aperture corners inwards, to increase the size of the air column for a richer sound.
IMPORTANT: Remember that this is only part of your practise routine. Keep doing what your were doing before you found WindWorks. The Point of Difference is very important. The free sensation we are developing vs how you instinctively play. This recognition will allow you to unlock inefficiencies.
“Seeming improvement” and “Blew up” are all part of the learning process. It takes time for the new normal to take over. An understanding of what is working and not working and why is very powerful and you simply observe these peaks and troughs. A simple, “wow, that’s interesting” observation with an non emotional attachment to a success or a failure is the healthiest way to practise #experiment.
I am really going to start promoting the importance of understanding that you must keep playing your old way and add WindWorks as a refinement process, an update or an app, not a completely new operating system. People are not doing EVERYTHING incorrectly, there are just a lot of inefficiencies that are effecting progress that we can eliminate with a refined psychology and some funky little sensation development tricks. The Singing C Series shines the light on the big issues.
Stick with it,