Hi am a few weeks in
The issue I have is changing shape fast enough.
Not quite sure what is meant to move.
From Gregs’ demos, he shows moving the corners in sideways as pitch rises.
What else moves?
does the jaw move up a little bit? and stay forward; I had that common habit of blowing down as the bottom lip moves back.
Am fine changing shape on crochets, But going to quavers and semiquavers it all falls apart.
have been practicing away from the instrument which helps in isolating the engagement.
it’s amazing how as soon as I start playing all the tension and connections kick in.
Is it just experimenting and trial and error to get it working well?
love to hear about some experiences and discoveries from players that have gone through this.
Many thanks ( I am enjoying my journey of discovery )
You are correct about Greg’s aperture corners. Small changes in the aperture corners will account for a certain range. Your tongue is another factor. As you ascend the scale, the tongue will arch slightly. The tongue will flatten as you descend. The jaw is another aspect of shape. Notes below the staff may require you to lower the jaw. These shape changes work together as a system for each note. The changes are slight.
Take it slow. Do not rush. Practice harmonic slurs using crochets and increase the tempo. If you maintain a particular metronome setting and go from crochets to quavers, you will find you can’t play the quavers. I suggest you play crochets and increase the tempo gradually. You do understand it is all relative. Crochets at 144 bpm are the same as quavers at 72 bpm. Eventually, you will be able to set the metronome at 120 (or higher) and do crochet harmonic slurs for a measure. The next measure play quavers and the next measure semiquavers.
Hi there, welcome. Good post from Ron above, as usual. I thought I would add my $.02 FWIW:
What do we move to change pitch?
That is, perhaps, the million $ question.
FWIW, my understanding is that Shape determines pitch. Air is for volume and long notes. As such, we must separate Shape and Air when determining how to achieve pitch.
Windworks has various exercises which use Passive Air–air Released, not blown, into the mouthpiece/instrument.
But exercises performed a certain amount of times or in a certain order do not result in success.
We must relentlessly ask ourselves WHY? Why am I doing the exercise I’m doing? What is the point?
Personally, I spent a lot of time experimenting solely with Passively released air to determine how high I could go. I agree with Ron to take it slow and WindWorks gradually builds up, but Passively released air can get you up to High C, perhaps a bit beyond–we are all a bit different.
Recently, things have been going great with my experimentation with Harmonic slurs. Previously, I treated these exercises as more Process focused exercises and was not mindful of the quality of the sound; I treated them more as endurance exercises to build strength. Recently, I took a new approach–I patiently worked through Harmonic Slurs to focus on the quality of the sound at each pitch. Using good air flow, but passively released air, I experimented with Shape (aperture corners, tongue arch, etc.) to obtain the next higher pitch and waited until I got that pitch with a quality sound before moving upward. I took breaths as needed to maintain quality air.
Moving up and down with Harmonic Slurs, ensuring I had good sound on each pitch, I determined an optimal Shape for each pitch.
When things are going right, there is tension Surrounding the lips (not within the lips themselves) toward the outside of the MP and in the aperture “corners” and the lips are left to vibrate freely within the mouthpiece like a drumhead vibrates, the only tension surrounding the drumhead.
The air being released through the lips is all it takes to play above the staff up to a high C and a bit above that; eventually, actively supported air is necessary and it’s necessary to actively support notes to make them louder.
Separating Pitch from Volume is very beneficial when separating Shape from Air. Learning what Shape determines Pitch, independent from Air, is helpful; we can then work to increase air flow separately to increase volume.
Bottom line–yes, experimenting trial and error and playing WindWorks exercises helps.
Focusing on Passively released air and paying close attention to how Shape changes Pitch helps.
Playing Clarke I, but ignoring his dynamics and instead playing softer as you ascend helped me. As did Schlossberg (i.e. Exercise 31 Page 8).
Speed is important as it ensures we’re being efficient. But I suspect that Quality of sound is perhaps even more important than Speed–for years, I focused more on speed and cared less what it sounded like. Focusing on what it sounds like and moving slowly has helped me recently hone in on precisely what to do when.
You’re very welcome. Good luck. We all rush at times. And it’s easy to focus on Results and stop focusing on Process, especially when we do experience some success–human nature is to switch our attention to our newfound ability and not to what got us there. I’ve fallen into that trap more than I’d like to admit.
But we learn from failure, not success.
If we tense up, use too much air, pressure, etc. and hit a pitch; did we succeed? No, not unless the pitch sounded and felt the way we wanted it too; and even then, our endurance will be minimal.
“Use the Force, Luke…” 🙂
I try to pay attention to the clues the instrument is giving me, which helps me figure out what precise movements I need to make to form the most efficient Shape possible and achieve optimal Resonance–the ideal balance between Shape and Air, optimal sound and efficiency.
Minor movements in the muscles in our face can help our hurt our sound, our tongue is involved too. That’s why focusing on harmonic slurs helps us so much–if we do them right and focus on optimal sound and efficiency, not just powering through them with brute force using too much air and pressure.
Trumpet is not an endurance or participation sport…it takes careful coordination and a delicate balance between Shape and Air to achieve optimal sound and efficiency.