WindWorks Trumpet Academy › Forums › WindWorks › Personal-Lesson-with-Greg Shout-out
Tagged: aperture, open, private lesson
First, let me say what a truly pleasant experience this was, and what a genuinely personable guy Greg is. What you see in the videos is just how he is.
Now, as for the lesson, if in doubt, you should schedule one with Greg. I’ve been working M2M for a little more than a year and went all the way to the end. Although my range didn’t improve, my sound and endurance did, especially my sound. I’m 70 and a retired Army trumpeter, so it’s not like I had significant problems, but I love playing and hope to keep improving as long as I’m able to play.
For me, the most significant revelation during the lesson was how literally open the jaw and aperture are for a beginning low C. When Greg says to place the visualizer or mouthpiece on the aperture as formed by the 4-part “Mmm, Ahh, Oooo, too-to-to-to” exercise, he literally means for the jaw to stay down and for the lips to stay in the “oooo” position. When placing the visualizer on the lips, he wants to see BLACK. Black in the center of the lips ensures that one is not closing the aperture prior to playing. I wasn’t quite doing that. What I was doing was slightly closing the jaw and lips to receive the visualizer/mouthpiece/horn. THAT IS NOT CORRECT FOR THIS EXERCISE! This is related to the M2M concept that the lips do not need to touch in order to vibrate. Whether it’s physically true that the lips don’t touch is not important, but it is important that we set the lips as if they do not touch, for this initial approach. This, along with the “concert hall”, sets up the feel of openness that is the crucial starting point. Only then can we properly control the pitch with the aperture corners.
I can’t believe that at this point I half-jokingly said, “But, of course, I can’t play like that.” But we can and must. And what a huge easy sound was produced! It was like the air was not moving; just resonance. Of course, plenty of air was moving on the low C, but the feeling was not of blowing, but of resonating. “Concert Hall” meets Relaxed Aperture. That was a totally new feeling, and that alone was worth the lesson.
From here Greg worked with me on keeping the same feel while controlling the aperture with the aperture corners and going up into the staff. Now it’s on me to expand this feel to rest of my range (and beyond), and repeating, repeating, repeating until it becomes habitual.
thanks for that,Seems to work really well with the Wind Target!
That’s wonderful to hear, Elgin–thanks for sharing your experience!
I spent a lot of time the first year or two checking to make sure there was no buzz in the mouthpiece like Greg demonstrates. Important to note that needs to be passive air or at least not too loud, it doesn’t work if you’re playing Fortissimo. But if you’re releasing air naturally, it works.
Now, I know it by feel and rarely check. But realized that I had lost my focus on the air, I was too focused on Shape / what I was doing with my lips.
It is still amazing to me, although I’ve been playing this way more or less for a couple years now, how open and forward I play. I used to tilt my head way back, bell down, bottom lip disappeared, air shooting down to the ground until it would eventually cutoff–usually above G above the staff. endurance was minimal.
Now, when things are going well, I find myself opening up the aperture more even at the top of my range and the volume and resonance increases; it feels ridiculously open at times, like it doesn’t make any sense and shouldn’t work. It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s not.
I used to mountain bike a lot and one of the things I learned was when going down a steep trail with loose dirt and rocks and you start losing traction, you want to LET GO of the brakes, not clamp down harder. If you clamp down harder to gain more control, you actually lose control and it doesn’t end well. If you relax a little, let go of the brakes for a second or two, the wheel starts turning again and you regain traction and control and then feather the brakes a bit from there to slow down. It’s counter-intuitve to our natural instinct.
There is a balance between Air and Shape. We need the Air to go through the aperture, so I believe it works best to start with the air and use Shape to respond to the air column, only as much as necessary. The more relaxed we manage to keep the lips, the freer and faster they can vibrate (faster vibrations = higher pitch) and the more resonant the sound is.
I have been thinking more and more about the air column as a 3 dimensional thing flowing through the aperture and the inner part of my lips interacting with the air like the vocal chords. Sometimes I think of it as a drinking straw shape.
When I first started WindWorks, I overdid the OOoooohhhh motion and puckered my lips more than necessary and struggled a bit with tone and articulation. Then I focused a lot on doing as little as necessary to change pitch, even almost trying to miss the notes by doing too little but rarely did miss.
Usually now, when I am not getting a good sound or am missing, if I relax and open up more I still am amazed at the result. I believe we tend to get in our own way a lot; we over think things and try to control things too much due to our expectations for results. The lips just need to be in the mouthpiece with good air flow and enough engagement in the surrounding muscles to keep the air from escaping the sides of the mouthpiece, which is a lot less than what we usually think.
My understanding / $.02 FWIW
Your post really resonates (pun intended!) with me Elgin. I had my first lesson with Greg a week ago and was so thankful for Greg’s supportive approach. His powers of observation, even over Skype, really are amazing. After working on the Foundation Level of the course for 10 months I decided it was time to check in because I really wasn’t sure if I had achieved sympathetic oscillation or not. After my lesson I had the same realization that you did. I was not interpreting the openness of the Mmm, Ahh, Oooo, too-to-to-to exercise literally enough. I think on a subconscious level, I refused to accept it. When Greg says people say to him “it feels so open it’s ridiculous, I can’t possibly play like that,” I realize now I didn’t really get it because I hadn’t abandoned the old lips together approach, even though I thought I had. Greg picked up right away that as soon as I put the visualizer over my embouchure my chin comes up. Same thing if I try to release the air with my tongue. Once again my instincts were leading me astray. It’s so great to know this though and I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t reached out for a lesson. I’m at the stage now that if I’m working with the leadpipe and mouthpiece or the Largo Stage pure process exercises, there is no sound. But there is calm, much less body tension, more passive reduction and, as you say, more black between the lips. Who knew you could have so much fun when there isn’t even a sound?
Yes, indeed. I had my first lesson with Greg one week ago today, and it has really opened up my eyes… and aperture! Just like others of you, I lifted my jaw and curled my lip in way more than I recognized as soon as I put the horn on my mouth. And my jaw moved every time I was releasing air with my tongue. Once I got the sympathetic oscillation going, I did find that my tone was pretty terrible for a day or two. But over just the course of this week things have opened up and gotten much better. At least up to a G in the staff. I only wish I had set up a lesson with Greg earlier… I’ve been working on the Mystery to Mastery course for about three months, thought I was doing great, and then realized I had better check in. Greg was totally helpful. He is an observant and positive teacher!