Is there any benefit to do a relaxation routine for the facial/jaw muscles involved in the embouchure and, if so, where can I find one?
I’m not aware of anything. It would be interesting to see if anyone has / has any thoughts on this.
Is there any specific reason you’re asking about this? Are you having difficulty with feeling too tight/stiff?
I get that way at times when I overdo it after a session of “gladiator trumpet”–usually a mindless, unstructured set of harmonic slurs, range exercises and/or playing things that are too hard/high for me…loudly… 🙂
Usually what helps me, other than putting down the horn and getting rest, is re-focusing my attention on the very start of the production of sound.
I play as softly as possible, and try to play increasingly softly, and try to spend time in the middle and low registers. Clarke 1 on Passively released air and Clarke 2 (Tecnical Studies). Some Caruso 6 Notes.
Playing scales down to pedal tones or even double pedals feels like it relaxes me. I recall reading a player saying it’s not possible to play double pedal C unless you’re fully relaxed…
Playing long tones always seem like they would help, especially softly, but I have found that they actually tend to make me stiff if I increase the amount of long tones I play too much. Playing long tones has good benefits, but there seems to be a balance with everything we do.
If you’re talking a bit more about the front-end of relaxing, I think that’s where things get more difficult…that’s more of a mental game, at least that’s my understanding.
When I feel like I’m not starting out right or have been feeling off, I find it helpful starting a new day simply by exhaling into the horn and paying attention to the resistance of the horn on the air I’m releasing into it (on a good “BCH” breath, passively released).
Then sometimes I’ll do the same with my lips on the outside of the mouthpiece (in the horn), again focusing on the resistance feedback the air gives.
Then I’ll get my lips into the mouthpiece, relatively relaxed, just get them into the place they need to be inside the rim, but not with any “roll in, roll out”, just have my lips present then I release air through them into the mouthpiece and let myself respond to what happens there.
I spend a lot of time at first on breath attacks only on Passively released air.
I focus on the sensation of “riding the air” while I play Clarke I and 2 as softly as possible, letting the energy of the air through the aperture create the vibration, not actively blowing, etc.
This helps me get into the right mindset so that when I start introducing articulation, other dynamics (requiring more Active air), etc. then I’m starting from a good, relaxed foundation.
My $.02 FWIW. Good luck and I hope you get some more responses on this.
Three things I’ve found helpful to loosen up the chops:
1.The ‘lion’s breath’ yoga pose. Just the facial part. You will feel a stretch in the upper lip. As with any muscle stretch dont go too far- just enough to feel the tension. https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/types/pranayama/lion-pose/
2.The Dizzy Gillespie ‘puffy cheeks’ with your lips closed. Again dont overdue it. Just feel the stretch.Move the air around in your mouth to get all facial musculature engaged.
3. Buzz low notes/ pedal tones/ glissandos on either a trombone or tuba mouthpiece (real cheap on Amazon). Definitely gets the ‘ahh ooh’ going.I also sometimes do the Stamp/Thompson buzzing warm-ups this way before I use the trumpet mouthpiece to really engage the aperture corners
4. Of course you can always use finger massage. Stroke downward from the cheekbones toward your lower jaw.
Nice, thanks for the suggestions! And no, not feeling particularly tight/stiff. Just thought it’d be a good idea to know how to encourage relaxation of the embouchure muscles if I ever need it or as a simple daily warmup/cool-down.
I was thinking of this thread a bit the past couple of days–I took last Saturday through Thursday off the trumpet completely due to travelling (decided not to take my horn).
Playing on Friday when I got home felt very weird and a little frustrating (like I was a bit uncoordinated), but my lips felt noticeably relaxed and I felt like I had less of a need to resist tensing as I ascended–like there was not much/any instinct to do so any longer. I had gotten good at managing myself that way, but it’s now as though there is no tendency anymore the past few days. Maybe it’s just a coincidence or my memory is a bit off.
I’m definitely having to restore my accuracy of articulation, “Shape”, etc. So I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend taking that much time completely off of the horn. But, a little rest and time away can be helpful. And I was thinking again today about how important the mental aspect of playing is. I felt like I’m in a good place in my mind coming back to the horn–totally patient, no expectations, just an objective observer with no emotional attachment to the outcome of my experiments. As I notice things that I can’t do, I spend some time working on them, etc. It’s been interesting.
Things are coming back together pretty well today (Sunday) and yesterday was much better than Friday.
As I expected, I’ve lost zero range–I had been focusing on my range up to the break and was slightly concerned that I would come back and not be able to play as high as before. That is definitely not the case–range is definitely more of a precision/coordination thing than a strength thing.
Sure, I’m sure my endurance took a step back, but my range is still there and in fact I feel more relaxed than I remember feeling before and my low, middle and upper registers feel more connected and smoother than ever.
Hoping that these sensations last as I get myself back into shape.
I definitely can’t play music as well as when I left as my concept of shape and articulation is a bit off. I definitely noticed my air was off as well, but things are coming back each day and I feel confident that I know how to get myself back to where I left off and continue progressing from there. I’m very grateful for that and all that I’ve learned the past few years.
I play the piano and also practice other non-musical skill-based activities. What I’ve found is similar to your experience: often taking a break (days, weeks) results in fundamental technique improvement even if we regress in terms of how fast/how accurate we used to be. These days I take advantage of this by working hard at a particular problem for a few days, letting it sit on the backburner for a few days, and then coming back to it. I find that usually even if I’ve regressed on the specifics, my technique has improved in some fundamental way such that I feel that given just a few days work I can surpass where I used to be. I work on several things at once, cycling them in this manner.
Since we’re playing the long game when it comes to any skill-based activity, I find this method more efficient and less tiring than trying to perfect one thing before moving on.
From my experience, be carefull what you do. I also searched many different aproaches on hot to relax my upper lip. Once i did find some streching video on youtube,so I tried that.The next day I had rehearsal and I couldn’t play above C2 ( french horn ) which is the next to middle c . My lips just didn’t want vibrate in upper register ,at all! So ,for me, no more streching of the lip. But maybe I overdone it a little ,hehehe . 🙂
If you want,you can massage your face with slow movement.
I think you can try Tanaka face masage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrceQS7qdaI&list=PLqP0GGk9REz_47GJ6os5STEQsFFeSGSGE (at your own risk ,of course)