Hey Greg and all trumpeters,
I’am still confused how to slur with efficiency. Because it was ok on WIHSC until I struggled to slur from G to C on the staff easily!
So there is my question in a video on Facebook. Thanks for watching and to make some comments to help me! Cheers, Francis Maziers.
I don’t do Facebook, but it’s very possible to do harmonic slurs with bad form. I did for 20+ years and still catch myself occasionally reverting back to clamping my lips in the middle top-to-bottom, which you can get away with on the staff…
But as you ascend higher, and the aperture gets smaller, clamping top-to-bottom in the middle of your lips inevitably results in your aperture collapsing (closing the aperture) and/or your top lip being flexed to the point that it doesn’t vibrate as quickly as needed to achieve the desired pitch.
By tightening the aperture from the sides and leaving our top lip relaxed, we support the top lip with the corners like tent poles holding up the roof (our top lip) from collapsing.
The Ooooohhhhh in MmmmmwwwwaaaahhhOooohh gives us the sensation of our aperture corners engaged.
For me, what works for me to get going is to focus on a big breath and releasing it in one long steady passive sigh out as I think Ooohhhh and focus on engaging,tightening the aperture as little as necessary to achieve the next pitch. Then I repeat faster and faster, focusing on steady passive air–kicking the air is a crutch and bad form and must be avoided.
I find middle C to E is actually easier for me to get going at first, as its a smaller interval and easier to start with. G to C is a bigger interval and therefore a little harder.
Important to focus on paying attention to what you’re doing–tightening from the corners, or top-to-bottom;I catch myself reverting back to old tricks occasionally.
Hope that helps; works for me. Good luck!
Great post John. Francis sorry not on Facebook maybe something I should consider. An exercise I do away from the horn is to form an open low C embouchure and then focus on firming the corners and bringing them Inwards. I just practise flexing the corners in a horizontal way. This has help me train my brain to activate the required muscles. This is a good exercise to practise with passive air and the concert hall breath. That way you are training yourself to activate the aperture corners inwards and release air without any air support as if your are playing a passive air exercise. I think the ability to control the aperture corners is the key to smooth and fast slurs.
I can do the slurs but I cannot do them as fast as Greg. As I try to get faster they get very untidy. ie they lose smoothness. This I think has to do with my control of the aperture corners but being fast and smooth in operation. But each day they improve. This is something I think just takes time.
Thanks Peter–yours is a great post as well, I do what you describe too and that helps me as well. I don’t think I ever could get as fast as Greg as I don’t know that my mind could even comprehend 208 bpm or whatever he got up to; that’s amazing.
Sorry should read :
This I think has to do with my control of the aperture corners NOT being fast and smooth in operation.
Thanks very much for your answers. But my question is about the best way to put the corners in, without pinching the center of the lips, when slurring:
1) raising only the lower jaw or
2) making a movement of the lips inward or
3) both of these.
Could you tell me how i can put my video on the forum?
Tighten the aperture from the sides towards the air column. Its a slight, less is more, movement–only as much as needed.
I uploaded my videos to YouTube ( unlisted) then posted a link.
Thought this was great / might help.
There is the link to my video on YouTube.
Could you make a comment?
Thanks a lot.
Francis great video. I see exactly what you are asking now. I don’t think either way is correct. Hold your initial embouchure setting. This looks great. Now move the aperture corners inwards by doing the opposite of your second method. No need to drop jaw. In your second method you are moving the aperture corners outwards towards a smile. Do the opposite of a smile. After you set the embouchure with Gregs mmmmrrrrrooooo hold it. Try to feel were the corners of the aperture are. Close your eyes. Feel where the lip corners touch. Now try to move them inwards. Another way to feel and see this is to use your finger tips to touch the aperture corners. Use one finger on your left hand and touch the left aperture corner. Do the same with your right hand. You will see that when you do your first method dropping jaw your finger tips don’t move and when you do your second method they move outwards. When you do it correctly you will see the finger tips move inwards towards each other. Hope this makes sense and helps.
If understand well, i have to contract the muscles of my face to make a concentric movement of the corners so they are moving inwards reducing the aperture? I am going to try that. I’ll let you know. Thanks very much!
Francis yes thats a good way of explaining it. Another way to feel this inward movement is to put a pencil in the centre of your aperture and hold it by only using an inward movement of the aperture corners, WITHOUT any sort of pinching of the centre of the lips. Support the pencil with a hand if its easier. This is just to get that inward feeling. Let us know how you get on and post a short video. Have fun.
Thanks very much Peter for your advice! I’am going to try that. See you later! Cheers, Francis
Francis, great video and I agree with Peter, neither looks right to me.
In the video, you say you’re not pinching–while that is true, it appears to me that both of the movements you demonstrated involve miving your lips closer together top-to-bottom, rather than tightening the aperture horizontally towards the air column.
Inevitably, you would wind up cutting off vibration as you ascended while playing if you used that approach, I believe.
When you engage the corners as you ascend, you will feel your lips push forward to the mouthpiece (or your fingers, as Peter outlines / Greg demonstrated).
Less is more / the 1% rule is important to remember, but when first getting the sensation dont be afraid of overdoing it–which will be a pucker / fish face, but even then you’ll probably experience some easier/faster harmonic slurs which will clue you in that you are honing in on playing optimally.
Hope that helps! Good luck!
You’re right. There’s something wrong with my approach. I feel that it is not the right way because i can’t play above G in the staff easily. I’am going to try your advice. Thanks very much for that🤜 Kind regards, Francis.
Sounds good, Francis. I hope my post was helpful. If you’d like, you could post a video of you playing the horn so we can see your setup, etc. We / someone else on here / Greg may see something that could help you.
Yes of course it will be with pleasure! I will make one ASAP. Good night John.
I’m finding this a really enlightening discussion.
I know we ought to be able to figure out how to do this without visual aids (after all, great trumpet players have been doing this for centuries now), but wouldn’t it be great if someone could produce a mouthpiece with an endoscope built into it optimised to give a view of the aperture as we actually play? Looking around on the web today I can see some quite cheap ($40 – $50) endoscopes that attach to a mobile phone to allow for viewing/recording of video, but unfortunately all seem to have a minimal focal length of around 2 cm. It would almost be worth getting a hole drilled through an old mouthpiece the size of the endoscope (somewhere between 5.5mm and 8mm diameter in most cases) to experiment with this, but I suspect that with a 2 cm focal length for the endoscope camera, the result would be out of focus, and I’m not sure one would get a wide enough angle to see the whole aperture in action anyway. Sure would love to see what’s REALLY going on when I play, though.
Me too, Peter. Ive seen clear mouthpieces (acrylic). And there are mouthpiece visualizers which fit into the horn–basically full mouthpieces with the cup cut away.
The problem though, is we really need to learn this by feel, not by looking. Looking is helpful, I think, when trying to help someone else but we need to learn the feel, sensations and it has to become subconscious, second nature.
Hi John, Peter and all the members,
There is my video to exhibit my understanding of the corners in.
But i think sadly that, despite its trivial appearance, it is not yet the right movement!
Thanks for your comments.
Here is my video hope it helps.
Let me know what you think.
Thanks for your excellent video! Yes it helps me very well. And i’am going to try the leadpipe buzzing with this technique. I will show you in a video asap. Kind regards! Francis.
Glad to help. Isn’t this such a great forum. I just finished practising some more slurs using passive air. This really concentrates on the corners to get the notes to speak, rather than cheating with a push of air. Do remember that in practise slurring from say low C to G in the staff, the inward movement of the corners is very small. More a sort of firming of the aperture corners with just a hint of movement. As John said in his post above “less is more”
Awesome, superb explanations! And yes this forum is very interesting, powered by people with the same passion! good night.
Great videos, gents. Peter, that’s a great video. Definitely hard to explain or demonstrate, but that’s the gist.
I think people (not just you, Frances; others are and I did too) are getting caught up in following the setup a bit too literally. If you listen to what Greg says in the videos, he explains that it’s more about the sensation of how we approach the instrument.
He doesn’t mean we should say Ooooohhhh and put our lips against the mouthpiece in a puckered formation like many of us are doing initially.
The Oooohhhh is more about the sensation of the aperture corners, it helps us feel those muscles so we can engage them sort of like putting our finger on a trigger so that when we start releasing air and want to change the pitch, we can pull the trigger to tighten the aperture and release, etc.
Greg says we want to let the lips interact with the air like the vocal chords. They can interact best if they’re facing the air, not pushed up against the mouthpiece–we want the red fleshy part of the lips (for the most part) interacting with the air, not pressed up against the mouthpiece in a pucker.
And all of this should be and feel as natural as possible for each of us. We all have different thickness of our lips, teeth formations, etc.
It needs to be and feel as natural for each of us independently.
WindWorks, I think, isn’t meant to be followed literally every step of the way. It’s a brilliant set of guideposts for each of us to follow but we must interpret it for ourselves and understand what each bit represents.
MmmmmwwwwwAAAAAaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhOoooohhhhhh was covered in the other thread, but it’s more about sensations than anything.
I think both of you gents are very close to honing in on your “coffee moment” and optimal setting and catching up to me a bit, at least on the range.
What I do, what seems to work for me, is I place my lips on the mouthpiece relatively “normal” way but I am thinking MmmmmWWwwwwaaaahhhhhOooohhhh (to open up my throat, relax and engage the aperture corners). Then I release the air passively and as consistently as possible.
I’m at work now so don’t have the ability to do a video, but here’s one that I did the other day that may help show how I do it, for what it’s worth. It’s not my best work and it’s not a great example of WindWorks fundamentals or anything, but it may be helpful to you seeing an example of what I’m doing, what works for me, etc.
My understanding is that pulling the mouthpiece out of the horn helps us determine whether or not our aperture is open enough to avoid unecessary oscillation of the top lip too early in our range, wasting energy, endurance, etc. I do that to check my form.
I don’t know if it comes across in this video, but the sensation of harmonically slurring up to high C or even beyond is to me relatively effortless and smooth. I’m not using passive air to get above high C, I am compressing the air with my mouth, actually; I’m not using abdominal support.
I’m not posting this video as an instructional video, I’m not an instructor; don’t follow exactly what I’m doing, I was just screwing around, etc. But hopefully this will help show you a little insight into what works for me so you can understand WindWorks better, as I am trying to do myself.
Here’s one of the videos Greg did that covered the setup in which he says it’s more about the sensations / approach to playing that is the whole point of MmmmWwwwwwaaaahhhhhOooohhh, etc.
Interesting video John thanks for posting. Been concentrating on passive air with my slurs today to try and refine my control of the aperture corners. Had a good day.
Francis just an update on my video regards aperture corners. Been reviewing all the posts and Gregs video on how pitch changes. My video could mislead you a little. Greg states that aperture corner tension changes pitch. This tension or firming of the aperture corners makes the corners move inwards to change pitch. My video implies its the movement of the muscles horizontally that achieves this movement. This is not quite true. Its the firming of the aperture corners combined with horizontal muscle movement which makes the corners move inwards. In my video I never mentioned firming up the aperture corners. This is I think the key. This is really hard to explain but have another review of Gregs video “Understand Shape to get better results” that John posted. Sorry for any confusion.
Thanks for this precision. I think that i was doing that. Thinking to change pith by firming or relaxing the corners in a inward or outward movement. Finally i think that it is a simple movement of the corners moving toward the mouthpiece (like saying toooo) and letting the center of the lips free to vibrate. I have the feeling that this movement involved the muscles of the jaw and also the chin that are cooperating synergistically.
What do you thing about that? Kind regards. Francis.
Not sure Francis but it sounds to me you are on the right lines. I am not sure I have fully got this yet but I think I’m getting closer each day. Good luck.
I will make another video this WE to show you what i am doing. Good work too!
How is it going? Do you feel like you’re making good progress, and that things are making sense?
I hope so and that you’re doing well.
Hello John and all the members,
I try to make your advices working.
I am not sure it is yet the best way.
So there is my new video on this subject.
Thanks for your comments. Cheers, Francis.
I feel that when I am slurring quickly, the chin is moving synchronously with the corners that are moving in. But not by puckering more, it is for me like my mouth works like a zipper on each side of my mouth to reduce the aperture and that the chin helps this movement in order to reduce the aperture without pinching the center. https://youtu.be/vnbwZDoFUWY
Just to say that it is a little more puckering when I do this movement but its a consequence not a pucker that I do consciously.
I look forward to your comments as it helps me a lot in my search for efficiency. Cheers, Francis.
And just another important thing. I feel that my tongue helps me in order to make the slur. But again it is not consciously, it is just an observation!
Hello every members and particularly to John,
Firstly warm thanks for your help and your kindness.
There is a video where I’am slurring something easy to show the results of my understanding of the Greg education.
Thanks for your comments. Cheers, Francis.
Francis is looks good and sounds good too. As far as I can see you have nailed it. Well done. How do you feel ?
Francis, great to hear from you and great videos. It looks good to me, but it does appear at times in the videos without the horn or mouthpiece a little like you’re still moving things top to bottom a bit more than from the sides; however, if it feels and sounds great on the trumpet then I think you are on the right track then.
How does it feel from middle C to E on the staff? Have you noticed any impact on your range yet?
Thanks for your comments and encouragements.
Yes, i think that i have to improved the mechanism.
On my range, it is easier than before but i cannot play, with ease for instance, an A above the staff! I think i have to work “harder”, but i haven’t unfortunately too much time.
I will send a video later with me slurring C to E. You’ll tell me please your review. Thanks a lot. Cheers, Francis.
Glad to hear you have improved, Frances.
That’s how it seems to work–we make an improvement to a certain point, then have to work on that point; after a while, we improve again.
I recall Greg talking about finding the point at which you struggle and paying close attention to what you’re doing to figure out what it is that’s inefficient. Are you tightening your throat, tensing up, choking off the air, clamping down the lips in the middle/cutting off the vibration, etc., etc. There are so many ways we can go wrong.
It is easier than you probably realize playing that A above the staff.
It takes less air the higher we ascend. It’s helped me a lot playing the higher notes softer. I played Clarke studies for years back when I was young, in school, taking lessons. I tensed up as I ascended chromatically and struggled not playing louder, overblowing. I found myself choking off the air, tilting my head back, rolling my lip under, all sorts of unecessary nonsense to play higher.
Believe it or not, all it takes is a little tightening inward from the aperture corners, horizontally from the sides inward and that A will speak with just the air released (not blowing). It is much easier than you probably imagine.
What helped me, was playing an A below the staff, then an A on the staff with my eyes closed. I payed close attention to how much different the two felt. You can pull the mouthpiece out and make sure you’re using sympathetic oscillation if you’d like–that would help.
You might try playing around with attempting the octave of A below the staff, followed by A on the staff, then attempt that A above the staff. Take a BCH breath, release the air, breath attack a loud low A, mezzo forte A on the staff and a soft A above the staff–try to hold it. Is your throat open, relaxed? You should just have the corners tightened, the middle of your top lip should be relaxed. Hold the pitch and try to slightly open up the aperture to increase the sound/resonance as you hold the note.
The WindwWorks course/exercises are great. I’m doing another lap through myself.
What has helped me lately is some mental things. Have you seen or heard of the analogy of a bag over a can? I think it was the Farkas book (Art of Brass Playing) that had a photo of a canvas bag with a drawstring and inside was an aluminum can. The concept is that the can is the inside of our mouth/throat and the bag is our lips/aperture.
I have been thinking about my lips, especially my top lip–my understanding is that the top lips is the primary oscillator (for downstream players). I want my top lip to interact with the air column, which I want shooting straight through the aperture into the mouthpiece and into the leadpipe. I look down at the leadpipe and focus on moving as little as possible (i.e. not tilting my head back or angling the horn down) and trying to blow straight through as much as possible while tightening the aperture while keeping the top lip relaxed and loose by tightening my lips from the aperture corners inward horizontally towards the center of the mouthpiece/air column.
And perhaps the most important thing, is being willing for my experiment not to work–for a note not to come out. Ironically, you have to let go to have control. You have to fail to succeed. It’s a paradox, and one I’m still figuring out myself and progress is not linear, it’s not a straight upward line; it takes time and patience, and I’ve had setbacks. I’m sure most probably do.
But I’m continuing to progress–I had a GREAT day today. It was perhaps my best day ever playing the trumpet; I think it in fact was. I did a little warm up this morning and felt ok, sounded alright. I played a lot yesterday, practice; pushed myself a bit hard on range, thought I might have gotten a bit carried away and might pay for it today.
Quite the opposite–I took a big break and went about my day. When playing again in the afternoon, I felt like I was already warmed up and didn’t need to warm up again. I did anyway, and had an amazing, resonant sound. I enjoyed playing some music for a bit, some lyrical stuff and felt and sounded great, My control (dynamics) and range was very good, I played with ease and notes above the staff resonated at fortissimo and I felt like I had power to spare. Everything felt like it was in the right place.
As I thought about my top lip interacting with the air column in the center of the mouthpiece, I did some harmonic slurs and tested my range a bit. I didn’t use a tuner, but am pretty sure that my range the past couple/few days now has moved up to Double G. Previously, when I would do harmonic slurs, I would stop at E above High C; I could hit the F when using first valve, but open would stop at E for some reason. Now, I’m pretty sure I’m getting the G. It could be the F# or even the F, as the notes are closer together up there, but I’m pretty sure it’s the G. And, at one point, without even trying I went way up over that and hit notes I don’t even know what they were and I wasn’t blowing hard, I was using the same air I was just slightly adjusting my embouchure/aperture with the same air–which I know from listening to Greg, but it was great to actually feel that sensation and experience it firsthand.
I still catch myself kicking air, blowing harder when I am trying to move from my current range to a higher range. When I catch myself and stop, and open up/relax and focus on tightening just from the corners inward is when I achieve success.
One visual in my mind that’s helped me is something I think Tom Hooten mentioned in a video–the corners supporting the top lip, preventing the aperture from collapsing (from our tightening too much, top to bottom). If you tighten your lips top-to-bottom as much as you can and try to blow through them, you won’t be able to; but if you tighten from the sides, you probably will. The air obviously has to make it through the aperture in order for the lips to interact with the air column and vibrate and for the air column to make it into the mouthpiece, trumpet, etc.
I think of the top lip as the roof of a tent and the corners being tight are supporting the top lip which is soft like a tent; the corners are the poles, propping up the roof/doorway of the tent and keeping it open so I can get out the front of the tent.
Hope that helps, FWIW.
I just watched the following video in the WW Course and thought of you, this thread, etc.
Andante Fundamentals – Aperture Corner Development
I can’t link the video as it’s part of the course and not a free video, but I recommend you go back and watch that. I think Greg did a great job explaining how to get the corners in–your question.
Also, note that Greg points out the fact that the jaw does not need to move when the corners tighten. I think you mentioned your chin moving–that might be ok, or it could be a problem if you’re moving your jaw too much you might be closing your teeth too much behind the aperture and cutting the air off.
The tongue arch can be helpful, but Greg points out that the tongue arch does not change pitch–it helps the resonance of the sound. The tongue arch can be helpful, for sure, but the change of the shape of the aperture is what changes pitch. You can change pitch by tightening the aperture without arching your tongue. And the tongue arch, if done incorrectly can actually get in the way of the air if we’re overdoing it.
Lately, I have actually been doing some Schlossberg harmonic slur exercises in which I have been trying to play them as open as much as possible and have found myself using very little, if any, tongue arch–maintaining an Aaaahhhh or Oooohhh (not Eeeeeeeeee) sensation even up to High C. I really try to keep things as open as possible; the exercise is played very softly.
I wouldn’t get too caught up in what the tongue is doing necessarily, but it can be a problem. I usually just go with what I feel is natural. But I have noted that many great players (i.e. Herbert L. Clarke, Greg Spence, Jens Lindemann, Claude Gordon, etc.) use “anchor tonguing” or KMT tonguing in which they anchor their tongue behind their bottom teeth. While they do arch their tongue in the upper register, my understanding is that they’re somewhat doing that to ensure that the tongue doesn’t get in the way of the air–especially at the most important part, where it meets the aperture itself.
I haven’t progressed to the point where I think I need to worry too much about whether or not to do anchor tonguing / KMT; I played around a bit with it and couldn’t make sense of it. It might not be something I need to do; many players don’t.
But I haven’t mastered my newfound range yet to the point where I can play it with every articulation, dynamic, etc. So, it’s possible as I try to develop further that I will conclude that will be necessary.
France, sorry for posting yet another post but it just so happens that I’m at a point in the course (again) that is supper relevant to this thread.
After posting the above post, I watched the very next video in the course: Andante Fundamentals – Leadpipe Transition (or something like that)
In that video, Greg really explains how the tongue fits in and the jaw (chin), etc. I think it would be super helpful to you to watch that again and obviously it’s better to hear this stuff straight from Greg than from me or other peers who are still developing.
Hope this is helpful to you.
Thank you for your great explanations. I’am going to try all these things patiently and see again the Greg’s videos that you advised me. I’ll tell you the results ASAP. Kind regards, Francis.
Youre very welcome, Francis. I hope something I posted helps point you to something useful.