First off, excited to join this community and dive into all the material you have put together Greg. Fantastic organization, detail, and examples to really “show” how to approach this to make yourself successful.
Quick question I have, and then wanted to share my story/background. I placed an online order for the wind pack, and lead pipe, and was curious if there is a way to get tracking information for when to expect it (only slightly excited to get going!).
Ok…now for my story.
I began playing trumpet in 5th grade. ATM, I am now 34 years old, and I look back on all the years of playing and how much it has become a part of my very being. I met the love of my life in college while she was the vocalist, and I was lead trumpet. almost 12 years of marriage, and 7 (yes thats not a typo) kids later….the joy that music brings to all our lives is vibrant throughout a bustling house!
Like a lot of what is described on this forum, I have had plenty of struggles over the years. Good days, and bad….feeling closed down/backed up, lack of range and challenges with endurance. I have always been able to “push through” to get the gig done…but know it does not have to be this way. I have always enjoyed playing a range of genres from starting my own brass quintet focused on weddings and churches, to orchestral settings, to playing lead trumpet in jazz band in college.
I have always “known” that I need more efficiency in my playing. In college, my trumpet professor first opened my eyes to the very topics Greg discusses here. While I was only a Minor in Music Performance, I treated it with the seriousness and study it deserved. Like Greg, he discussed his playing challenges, having a life changing lesson and discussions with Bobby Shew, and re-learning how to play with ease and resonance of sound. He is a monster player…ad so blessed to still call him friend and have studied with him. He worked with me in the limited time I had with him (he came mid-way through Senior year) and it really did change a lot of my playing abilities. I never though, quite crossed the chasm out of fear.
My challenge has always been “letting go of the past” of what worked, for fear of not being able to play at all. I suffer from the standard teachings of pinch, buzz, backup, and then pass out (ok…not really passing out but that “feeling we all have known and hate”). I “know” playing wise that my embouchure tends to do exactly what is discussed as a problem….bottom lip rolling in somewhat creating a pinch, air pointing downwards to entertain the ants.
It is time…..time to really come to the next level of playing. I am not a full timer, but I know that changing the way I approach to playing will make when I am doing gigs, more enjoyable for not only the crowd, but truly remove the fear and anxiety I have about “is it going to be a good day or a bad day”.
Appreciate hearing some encouragement from others here about their journey, and progress.
Welcome Chuck! Great first post. There are some great members on here, hopefully they will post on this thread / share their experiences as well, as that helps us all. I, myself, have benefited from others ideas, etc.
I’ve shared my backstory on here on a number of threads, but in a nutshell I started playing again a few years ago after goofing around on YouTube and stumbling onto Greg’s and other videos about playing. I could never really effectively play above the staff. G above the staff was my practical limit with an A on a good day. Never touched a High C. Limited endurance. Was told, I thought (probably my misunderstanding) to roll my bottom lip under to ascend. Played from 1978 to 1989, then focused on working, college, girlfriends… Gave it one more try in college, 1993 to 1994 or so but didn’t get through my range limitation again, so went into business major, got married, etc.
No regrets, I’m happy / we’re happy, but I’m happy to say my love for the instrument and hard work those many years ago (lots of Clarke, Arban, Schlossberg) have paid off now as I am playing at an all time high, thanks in large part to Greg / WindWorks.
I’ve spent a lot of time surfing the net / YouTube about the trumpet and there’s no better place that I’ve found than WindWorks.
The mantras scrolling across the bottom of the screen are golden.
And the way the course is laid out is brilliant, in my opinion–I understand it and appreciate it more each time I repeat it, which I recommend.
In my opinion / my understanding is that it all boils down to optimizing the balance of Shape and Air, findimg the optimum shape for each pitch (at each dynamic) and how to most efficiently move from one to thw other.
I start each day breathing into the horn (lips outside the MP), feeling the slight resistance the horn gives, then I put my lips in the mouthpiece and release air through an aperture and then begin to respond to the sound or lack thereof by making slight tweaks to Shape.
Then, I try to change pitch, ascending up and down (alternating “spider”). I usually start on G on the staff and go up to middle C and low C. I focus on feeling relaxed, releasing Passive air and observing that optimum balance of Shape and Air for each pitch.
“We must teach ourselves how to play again everyday.”
Paying close attention to this balance of Air and Shape have made Clarke and other exercises more interesting to me and I’m more motivated to play them.
Rather than feeling like they’re just chores and fingering exercises, I now know that they’re also flow studies that can teach us what the optimum balance of Shape and Air is for every pitch and how to most efficiently change from one pitch to the next.
I no longer feel like / treat them as something to get through / check the box on, I feel each day like I’m learning something again from them or reinforcing what I thought I knew / reconciling it.
I just began again the WindWorks course and am looking forward to progressing through it.
I didn’t take a structured, straight path through to where I’m at. But I’m grateful for the journey and am overtly grateful for what I’ve learned and how far I’ve come.
There were some peaks and valleys on the way, one point at which I almost throwing my one and only horn, a 35 year old Bach, across the room. It was a year into my comeback. I had gone from a range of G above the staff to consistently playing an F above High C, but lacking some control and consistency. I took a few days off after Christmas for a family trip and found things going the wrong way when I got back to the horn.
Greg helped me refocus on what it was that had gotten me to where I was before. By refocusing on those principles, and not on my expectations and emotional attachment to those expectations, I found my way back and way beyond where I was.
My consistency has now become remarkable. I can’t remember the last bad day I’ve had. And my endurance is greater than I ever thought possible. I remember when I was young, taking lessons, I had poor range and endurance…
I’m no screamer, and haven’t really tried that. I’ve focused more on efficient and optimum sound and tend to play more classical stuff. But I can play stuff up above High C musically and with dynamic control.
This year, I do plan on working on my range now that I’m where I’m at–my consistency, control, etc. I’m going to, and have just started to, work on my range and WindWorks will be a big part of that work.
Hope that helps, FWIW. Sorry for the long post…I tend to do that…it’s genetic…
Thanks so much for your reply! Fantastic story and gives me lots of motivation to get started! Looking forward to exchanging notes many times throughout this journey!
Welcome to M2M! My situation is similar to yours, but I married a trombone player instead of a vocalist, and I (thankfully) only have two kids.
I’ve always had good range, but had way too much back pressure, not enough endurance or consistency. Wind Works has totally revamped my playing, with bits of other stuff mixed in (Bobby Shew and some Lynn Nicholson). My playing today is so much more free and consistent, and my range is consistently better. The ease of playing though is one of the most surprising benefits. When you watch the great players play they don’t look like they are killing themselves – I’m finally starting to unlock this as well, and it’s so much more fun…
Good luck, and ENJOY THE JOURNEY!