Today I practiced in front of the mirror and noticed a very drastic issue that I was previously unaware of. As I play through phrases, my lips thin into a very wide smile in just a few bars. When I breathe however, it resets. But this KILLS my endurance. I am glad I am aware of it now. I am going to continue playing in front of a mirror and focusing on the role of the aperture corners…Besides that, anyone have any ideas of how to overcome this? Much appreciated!
Yeah, that doesnt sound like a good thing. Youre probably stretching / thinning out your lips and pressing the mouthpiece against them. I think it helps our endurance if we do the opposite, pushing the corners inward/forward towards the mouthpiece.
I havent encountered the smile (pulling the corners backward) too much, but have caught myself doing it occasionally since switching to a bigger mouthpiece (1.5 C) when I try to ascend and open up my aperture, get a better sound.
Its probably something youve done for a while. Awareness of it is probably half the solution.
Focusing on the air column and visualizing the aperture in your mind, tightening the corners inward horizontally from the sides inward (oooohh). Some time away from the horn thinking / doing that / visualizing it should help too.
And of course harmonic slurs changing pitch by engaging the corners inward towards the air column / center of the mouthpiece.
Just a matter of getting used to new sensations with better/proper form and experiencing the efficiency and resonance of the sound.
And of course watching the WindWorks videos and doing the course will help.
Caleb Johnson, congratulations on this discovery. I restarted this course three times before concepts sank in and I did not go back to my former ways of playing.
I am going to repeat and emphasize some of John Elwood’s advice.
You must follow the introduction and Largo fundamentals instructions. The goal is to change your habits. This sometimes means following the example in “The Mouthpiece Revisited” of repeating the process MANY, MANY, MANY times.
The AAH-OOH is the basic embouchure and does not include smiling or pinching the lips together in the middle. Smiling is too much tension.
I know getting rid of old habits is difficult, that is why you need to stay in the fundamentals of this course and it becomes your new default. The unfortunate truth is you may think you may sound like a beginner in the sense of your range, (hopefully your sound will be robust).
You will notice Johnelwood talks about aperture corners as you ascend. It is more than just aperture corners. A shape change in the oral cavity occurs as the corners change. As you go through the Largo stage, you will learn the sensations for each note. All of us who previously learned to play the trumpet may tend to rush through these exercises to quickly. If you do you might find old habits taking over. Beginners have to consciously think about the process to get it right. You pass out of the beginner phase when you got the efficient processes in muscle memory. Get the fundamentals into your muscle memory. When you place the visualizer, mouthpiece, or mouthpiece and horn to mouth you take your concert hall breath and the AAH-OOH embouchure forms without thinking. Eventually, you want the brain focusing only on the music and not the mechanics.
Don’t be discouraged. Greg had to start all over as well.