I am attempting to learn Windworks like Greg suggests as a “2-building approach”. I do my Windworks exercises, which for me is trying to gradually get better at playing with a mmaaoohh lip setting. This has been slowly improving. I hope to one day be able to transfer over to this way of playing. After I’m done doing Windworks, however, I seem to be having some trouble getting my normal set to function the way I’m used to. I get an airy sound and it seems harder to play in general. Has anyone else experienced this kind of thing? I don’t know if it’s my lips rebelling against the tightness and tension that I normally use or what, but it just does not feel great to play. Not sure how to navigate through this issue or what it indicates. Thanks for any advice.
REPLY FROM GREG:
Hey Bill, thanks for your post. This is a really important topic!
I would get you to consider this: Imagine you wanted to learn to play trombone. It is a different embouchure setting. The body is capable of accommodating both. You need to do little bits of the new technique (trombone), then rest, then reinforce the existing technique (trumpet).
If you were to do too much trombone and not enough trumpet, then the confusion sets in. I used trombone in the development of my methods to utilise the concept of “strangeness”. I was gigging at the time and it did not negatively affect my performance.
What you are explaining is not uncommon as part of your mind/body wants to eliminate the manipulation you once used to play and this of course, in the short term, will create inconsistencies.
Your awareness of your previous inefficiency is far more obvious now and whilst this can be challenging and frustrating, it is part of the retraining process.
My advice, when it comes to gigging, do whatever you need to, no matter how it feels to get the job done. If your gigs are back up and running regularly, do “suggestive” practice to keep nurturing the news habits you wish to develop but then rest and just play with the best sound you can make, no matter what PROCESS you have to employ.
REMEMBER: You got the gigs because you are a great player. I know that doesn’t mean much when you are constantly frustrated BUT you need to keep in mind that you are making a living playing trumpet and THAT is awesome!!! 🙂
Yes, this all makes perfect sense. I’m probably not resting enough between transitions. And yes, I am so aware of the pinch in my lips now when I ascend which results in me having to force air through. I want it GONE! For my last gig, I took the week off from Windworks as I didn’t want my chops to be confused. That seemed to help. I play every day in lessons with my students and I don’t feel I sound like I usually do and it is harder to play higher but I suppose I don’t have to worry about that as much for teaching. I usually do a Windworks session before starting my teaching for the day. I’ll try to end those a bit sooner if I can. Thanks for the reply, Greg!
I’ve experienced an airy sound before and battle that on occasion; it’s been better lately. My recollection / understanding is that when that happens it is an indication that our lips are too close together and trying to play softer and open up usually helps me. My understanding is that there’s a balance between Air and Shape that we have to build a sense for and we’re moving from defining that balance one way with our previous setup / use of air to a new setting / use of air, so it takes time to redefine that and build consistency. The good news is that it becomes easier to play in time.