WindWorks Trumpet Academy › Forums › WindWorks › Overblowing and sympathetic lips
My friends Im back with another question. It’s about overblowing. Since my last post… for about a week I was making great improvements until I realised that overblowing sneaked and creeped back into my playing. Perhaps I lost focus. So I’m starting again but really focusing on not kicking and not overblowing and staying completely relaxed (like the singing C). I focus on keeping that feeling 100% for each note I play. When in doubt I double check by removing the mp to ensure a relaxed airstream is coming out. But now my lips won’t vibrate anymore = the notes won’t speak. Are my lips that stiff??? I don’t want “manipulate” and close my lips vertically as I think I will clamp the middle. Should I continue to focus on a good airstream and hope that within the next few days my lips will eventually respond sympathetically to a decreased air flow. Basically I think I am working on the “process” and forgetting about the “result”. Any thoughts?
PS. Before starting windworks I had a rolled-in embouchure and always overblew which probably really messed up my lips. But I remain hopeful.
I don’t know, good question. I am on this journey as well and have had my ups and downs. Lately, it’s been more up again.
Your other thread resonated with me–about Sensation of Relaxed lips; it helped me realize that’s what was going on with me. My lips felt awful, worse than ever before–stiff and my sound was terrible.
I realized my lips were too tight / close together and I was apparently actively buzzing pretty much all the time–I think that was what was causing my issues. Once I started focusing on opening up the aperture, I started improving again and getting back good sensations / a good resonant sound, etc. Thank you for helping me realize what I was doing wrong.
To be honest, I don’t understand at what point our lips are supposed to actively buzz–I know they do at least in the upper register. I may not be recalling something from the course that you or others recall–if Greg mentioned a specific point in which we should be actively buzzing, etc.
For me, it seems as though when I pull the mouthpiece off my lips around middle C that my lips are buzzing in the mouthpiece at that point. Is that bad? It doesn’t feel bad or unnatural, although I admit having issues with consistency–that could be part of my problem.
I have been checking to make sure I’ve got a relaxed setting at G on the staff when warming up–I occasionally pull the MP off to see if my lips are actively buzzing. Eventually, I work up to chromatically playing up to High C and doing some major articulated scales (Clarke’s Setting Up Drills) up to A, B and High C to make sure my range is working. It feels good / sounds good to me. I could never play that high before; this is new to me. I still don’t feel consistent with how I play at times or even understand how I’m doing it; but I focus on keeping my throat / neck relaxed and only tightening my aperture by contracting my lips inward from the corners–I think of the Maggio Monkey and think of contracting my lips in a circle gradually / slightly as I ascend and it seems to work.
Occasionally, I catch myself overdoing it–like I did tonight, doing harmonic slurs / seeing how high I can go, etc. I got up to High F and even squeaked out a Double G or 2 but was using a lot of air and not following the process. Now my lips feel stiff / like I did something wrong.
One other thought–I have noticed that playing on the mouthpiece and just the leadpipe helps my lips feel and vibrate better. The trick though, is that I believe if you do it wrong then it can make things worse–it can encourage pinching the lips in the middle to get the buzz, which is not what you or I want. What works for me and what I believe we’re supposed to do, is to blow in the mouthpiece just as Greg shows–with no buzz and a good air stream, but then I tighten the aperture gradually and eventually a buzz starts and I ascend as high as I can without straining then gradually relax the aperture back open, then repeat that a time or two more. When I put the MP back in the horn, I feel and sound better and my range seems better–I slot notes more accurately and easier. Similar sensations when playing the leadpipe this way too.
My $.02, FWIW–good luck. Hopefully Greg or someone else who has a better grasp of things chimes in as well. Thanks again for your threads–they are helping me figure things out as well.
Was just over on Youtube and found this:
This one seems even more relevant. One thought–I don’t know, but you may be over thinking / overdoing it with regards to relaxing the lips, etc. Greg does mention that we need to experiment–that practice is experimentation and finding what works for us, etc. Obviously if you’re not getting any sound out, that’s not going to work either. The answer might be somewhere in between what you’re doing now and what you were doing before. I think the above video and the below video are going to help me and thought they might help you as well. I’ve seen these before, but it’s been a while; I think I need to go back again and spend some time doing this again, etc. Best of luck.
Johnelwood, thanks for your comments and suggestions. Your paragraph, particularly on maggio, explains really well what I experienced yesterday and today. I have never studied Maggio but I’ve seen the monkey image. Basically, I understood, through experimenting, I greatly underestimated the required firmness of my aperture corners. You mention a circular type of sensation as you ascend. That is what I am feeling and as a result the notes now speak. Very good news!
I experienced this before reading your post. But after reading your post I feel like I better understand the aperture corners. Ultimately Greg (a trumpet genius) is the one to thank.
I am practicing Clarke and my tonguing has greatly improved and my body is alot more relaxed due to not overblowing. I believe my “relaxness” is proportional to the firmness of my aperture corners. What I mean is, for example, when I play a middle C I simply increase my aperture corners and don’t rely on a kicking of the air. In contrast to your comments, when I remove the mp at that pitch I believe I don’t experience a buzz, only air. As a result I think this means that I remain relaxed while my corners remain firmer. I guess that this suggests that I am not pinching but yet my aperture corners are firmer?… Its confusing haha
My sound is not yet full and resonant but my body remains relaxed so I am very hopeful! I hope in the coming days my “process” turns into positive “results”.
Thanks Luis–that helps. Last night, after watching the above 2 videos I decided to go back and focus on the mouthpiece position once again–begin at the beginning, etc. I did Clarke Technical #1 (chromatic scales) from bottom to top and had great sensations–to the point that I wound up playing for a while longer doing lip slurs and had good results. I played a long time and thought I wouldn’t feel good today, but I just finished playing and felt great.
Today, I focused again on MP placement and focused on staying relaxed and changing shape to change pitch / not kicking air. I have been doing that but caught myself kicking with the air to try to go higher once I reached my new (higher) limit of my range–I realized this was counterproductive and probably one reason why I was having difficulty with consistency–I think I was following the process to a point, then reverting to bad habits to continue on from there.
Today, I think I had one of those coffee moments–I focused on good mouthpiece position, on having a good air column and not increasing the air but just using the aperture corners to change shape / pitch and felt the center of my lips / aperture kind of pop or slot as I pulled in the aperture corners and I easily slotted up to the next slot or two in doing lip slurs. As a result of this, I wound up playing faster and higher lip slurs than I ever have before and kept a good sound, felt relaxed. It made me think / realize that i need to stay relaxed more and play more and build up the endurance in my aperture corners to be able to change the pitch more / play longer.
I agree that Greg is the man–he has helped me realize that a lot of the different methods / guidance / books out there have a lot more in common than I originally realized and his explanations have helped me a lot in figuring it all out. It’s still frustrating at times, but today was a good day and I think I’m close to “figuring it out”.
Thanks and good luck.