Hi Team, what is the actual difference between Air Support and Air Kick in order to go do slurs efficiently and improve range? I feel like I’m getting it starting with the Largo C# Harmonic Slurs but I have to play extremely slow in order to feel it as slurs have always been my worse articulation. If I release the air and reshape the mouth the pitch changes. Not sure how this will work when I’m attempting to play higher and decrease the air but still support the notes without a little or even a big kick. Help!
If you take a Body Concert Hall breath and release that passively, that’s Passive air.
Basically, you’re not using your mouth or abdomen to compress the air into the horn, you’re just releasing the air out in a constant flow.
This is helpful, crucial I think, in separating Shape and Air and learning how Shape changes pitch, independent of Air–which is needed for volume and long notes/phrases.
One of our tendencies is to use our Air as a crutch to kick and manipulate to overcome inefficiencies in our Shape (embouchure, tongue arch, etc.).
By releasing Passive air and focusing on changing Shape and experimenting / observing how changing Shape changes pitch without changing Air, that observation helps us realize we can change pitch independent of Air–which is needed for volume and long notes, not to change pitch.
Less air is required the higher we ascend, which is opposite of what we tend to think. It takes less air to play a High C than a C on the staff.
Playing notes above the staff softer actually makes it easier, especially if you successfully relax, open your throat and avoid clamping your lips. Playing notes above the staff loudly does require Active air / support. But obtaining those pitches is easier than many of us (myself especially) realize initially; we make it more difficult by over-blowing and over-tightening our lips, throat, etc. We fight against ourselves.
Once we find / learn the Shape required to obtain the pitch, we can work on exercises to crescendo / decrescendo to increase our dynamic control, articulation, etc. And learn how to use Active air / support to play louder, longer, etc.
I don’t think it’s really until above High C that air support really gets to be critical; I could be wrong, but I believe that’s the case. I can play High C and D and maybe even E pretty softly / without thinking much about air. I spent a long time on avoiding any sort of air support, just using passively released air to really focus / isolate how Shape effects / obtains pitch, as I didn’t trust myself at first to be able to use Active and Passive air back and forth. I don’t have any playing commitments, so that was easy for me to do.
I think it is easiest to tell the difference when working on stab notes. I set up for what I think is the correct shape then raise the tongue arch to the top of the mouth. Then I use the abdominal muscles to pressurize the tank. That is the Air Support. If all goes well I just release the tongue and out comes the correct note at the correct volume. I played a stab note with no Air Kick.
If I am working on the top of my range my psychology is one of “I really want to play that note”. So what often happens instead is at the moment I release the tongue I also give a little kick from the abdomen to help the note along its way. This can be super subtle. To detect this is happening I must close my eyes and really focus on the process. The kick often does the trick but think about what is going on here. That extra kick of air forced the aperture into the correct shape for the target note. So this means that my preset shape was quite possibly not the correct shape. If I am relying on the Air Kick to get the correct note then my brain’s Trumpet Playing Machine that I am actively trying to program did not experience the correct shape. To teach it the correct shape I must avoid that Air Kick.
Thank you, Gentlemen. You are both brilliant. Time to work. I’m gonna get this. I studied with Roy Stevens when I was in my teens for four years and we dealt with a lot of tension. I still have my books but could never master the method. This approach is more plausible. Let’s go. I’ll keep you posted.
Air kick is a definitive ‘kick’ from the abdomen like yelling “Hey”.
My take is Air Support is more ‘following’ the Air out to maintain compression. If you can be full of air then ‘Air Release’ a squeak a note from your lung compression alone, try adding ‘Air Support’ afterwards to increase volume. This idea is throughout Greg’s exercises. The way we all learnt as beginners used to be blow more or ‘kick’ the air to get higher. This obviously can work to certain level however, if your aperture corners are not strong enough, you will need mouthpiece pressure to get the higher note, which we all know is limited.