Hello all- first of all some background.
I’m a comeback player after a 25 year break. I figured that instead of picking up where I left off with old habits I’d try something new for a change and here I am. I’m only a week into the Largo stage still, just hit the singing C section.
My question is this- I get great tissue action with my mmmahhhooo setup and still good movement with the mouthpiece so I feel I’m doing that correctly. The problem comes when I add the lead pipe. I’ve found that most of the time, I get no sound until I wet my lips a little (either as the lead pipe is to my mouth or even during the setup before the mouthpiece hits. Should I have to do that and is it bad if I do. I could care less if a sound comes out since I’m still in the stage of feeling the process out but I know if I want a sound I just have to wet a little.
The other item is that if when making a sound, I pull off the lead pipe and let the mouthpiece remain, my lips are still buzzing in the mouthpiece. Is that OK? I feel like it shouldn’t be so I’m actually trying to NOT make a sound in just the mouthpiece and when I do it frustrates me and I’m trying to figure out what’s happening. My lips never start to buzz until the lead pipe goes on but then they don’t stop! I am trying to see if I’m changing my lips any when the lead pipe goes on but in the mirror it’s hard to tell. I don’t feel any change if I close my eyes. Maybe I’m over thinking it and there is nothing to worry about but I’m trying to be conscious of what is occurring, the feeling I get and if I’m forcing something without trying.
In the Andante Fundamentals, Greg addresses not getting a sympathetic oscillation. Don’t worry about it. The takeaway is: do not pinch the middle of the lips and do not overblow. As for the lips vibrating after pulling the mouthpiece out, this may be caused by various factors. I have had this experience, and I am not sure why it is so. I hypothesize that there might be a change in mouthpiece pressure on the lips while I’m removing the mouthpiece from the leadpipe. My advice is don’t worry about it. Understand the process and sensation. Releasing air through the leadpipe is what playing should feel like, no kick nor pinch. A little more pressure, a little more aperture corner tension, a change in the mouthpiece’s angle, perhaps a change in the jaw or tongue position may cause the mouthpiece buzz. Continue to experiment and maybe you will figure it out, or not. You are learning what playing the trumpet should feel like.
One of the amazing things is that playing the trumpet is a lot like Newton’s third law of motion. A bat hits a ball and the ball hits the bat at the same time. You play the trumpet and the trumpet plays you.
I am no expert but will add my observations. I am often accused of overthinking everything about my playing micro-scrutinizing every note. I love to do it and it is paying off. We more mature comeback players tend to take a more considered approach to playing.
Firstly the wet lips. I cannot play if I have not wet my lips. I do it without thinking every time I start playing. If you look closely I think that you will find that Greg does the same. If I am dehydrated I always find it difficult to play.
I have just experimented a little more with the lead pipe and withdrawing the mouthpiece. Typically I start with no buzz with the aahooh setup and when I withdraw I am still buzzing. Invariably the buzzed note is at a high pitch than the pitch with the lead pipe. Paul Mays (Prof of trumpet at Birmingham Conservatory, UK) attributes this to the fundamental note of the mouthpiece being high and to a release of air pressure from the lungs. He has shown that if he plays very high notes with the lead pipe that the pitch of mouthpiece buzz on withdrawal goes down towards the fundamental. Paul Mays actually recommends that there should always be a high pressure from the lungs when playing so when he withdraws on low notes the buzz goes very high. It is interesting that when I tried his way ages ago the pitch of my note went up in a similar way. However since I have been using the Greg approach the change is slight – it is still there. The Paul Mays approach seems to be to always maintain the core muscles in an engaged state – not so much kicking high notes but always having the air under pressure – he still recommends the ‘sighing’ approach to general playing.
All interesting stuff!!!
Best of luck