Points from the Live session Sunday morning 28th August 2022
1 Psychology of come back players
I have been meaning to post on this for a while. A lot of players on the site are comeback players. As a comeback player I constantly find there is a frustration of not having the same ease of playing when younger. There a a number of reasons for this but the two big ones are expectation and deterioration. Our bodies are older and have not made the physical adjustments appropriate to ageing. My reason for needing Windworks has intensified since developing a heart condition requiring a pacemaker. I now need to play with as little effort as possible. As one medic told me, any trumpet playing puts pressure on the heart. It takes so much concentration to achieve this. I was extremely fit as a youth but now walking is the most I can manage. I do not have that physique to fall back on but then I look at some of the greatest players and they do not have a physique to envy. It is just air. This is why so many of us turn to Windworks.
Expectation is an even bigger issue as we constantly refer to our younger selves as a reference point rather than the new starting point. When we turn to Windworks we have an even fresher reference point. Without perspective this causes immense frustration. I can remember saying to friends after concerts – ah but when I could really play. As an attempt to counter this I try to think of the really great moments I have had in recent years rather than the glory days of yesteryear and a probable faulty memory. I do remember periods of playing very well when young and thinking perhaps I could go on to do it for a living. The pressure of thinking that inevitably led to a drop in my standard. It is all in the mind.
This follows on from expectation and not just comeback players. The more we try to relive the old days the more effort we make to capture the former success. I can recall feeling my toes curl up targeting a high note. Having cracked that one I have noticed the legs getting stiff when standing. I work with choirs and always start a rehearsal with posture and keeping the knees from locking. I discovered I was committing this crime this week when practicing. I am currently studying Miles Davies and have the iconic image of him with the trumpet round his waist but with bent knees. I now feel my shoulders drop. I am working my way through the body. I have finally got to the source of most of my issues and discovered the sensation of locking the throat. I am now totally focused on keeping this open but had to find what was physically happening to be able to work on it.
3 the aperture movement
The Sunday sessions have often focused on the aperture. I have found the idea of moving into the centre harder to take on board but am starting to get the idea. Having worked through the course and constantly returning to Largo I am now back again but not letting the lip curl back in. I thought my passive limit was F but am now finding there is a hint of the lip curl above C. I shall be happy to stay at this point until I can not have to think about maintaining the milk spout. I check at the end of every exercise with a mirror and then capture the feeling.
4 playing studies and musical thinking
This was an interesting discussion today. If I can add one point. I tend to think of technical things all the time when practicing. The point Greg made re music reminded me of a recent practice session when things were going well. I was really focused on the musical elements of adding accents and phrasing etc.. I found myself playing much better when not thinking of how I was playing. Windworks is such a major step it is inevitable it is on our minds every time we touch the instrument. If, like me, you have little playing outside the practice room it is difficult to get away form thinking technically.
I hope these points are helpful to some of us.
Greg – as there are four points I hope that puts me in credit for four months re fines for not posting.
I am also fairly new to Windworks/Mystery to Mastery.
What I want to do is encourage you to stick with Greg and Windworks. From skimming your post, I’m fairly certain you have been overworking every aspect of your trumpet playing – as I have been. And, it sounds like you have been employing the Valsalva maneuver (as it relates to trumpet playing) as a substitute for correct technique. Valsalva can be bad for the heart and that’s probably why the medic warned you against trumpet playing. A form of Valsalva is even sometimes used to help patients stop arrhythmia attacks. (https://www.cochrane.org/CD009502/VASC_the-effectiveness-of-the-valsalva-manoeuvre-for-stopping-an-abnormal-heart-rhythm ) Greg’s method teaches people how to play without Valsalva.
Please stick with Greg’s teachings. I believe you will find yourself playing more easily and at a higher level of accomplishment than ever before. Like you, I am struggling to get past decades of deeply ingrained techniques and habits. It only takes one breakthrough to start to change everything. One changed enough of how I play so that I can finally see my way to not only regaining all my past ability but surpassing it — using Greg’s methods.
Hang in there and wait for your breakthroughs to begin to happen. Everything will start to change when you get there.