WindWorks Trumpet Academy › Forums › WindWorks › Sensation of Relaxed lips
Tagged: open, relax, resonance, sound not pure, Stiff lips
Dear trumpet players,
I believe I am really confused about the feeling of relaxed lips. I don’t think I know what that feels like! I know its an odd topic but what sensation should I aim for? Can anyone explain a little as to what relaxed lips should “feel” like?
I believe I now do the bodys concert hall with relative success (open throat). I use the visualizer and the ahhhooo “position” and try to recreate that open feeling with plenty of air but when its its time to play, sadly my lips become stiff. I say this because as I try to understand my aperture corners my sound isnt pure. It sounds nasal and small and not relaxed. I believe I have no problem with relaxing the body but somehow have very stiff lips. Unfortunately I can’t seem to correct this since, strangely enough, I don’t know what relaxed lips feel like.
Any help would be most appreciated!
I would say that you need to watch the Leadpipe video again.
relax means that you should blow your mouthpiece and listening only air going out.
Then in that position, you should put the mouthpiece in the leadpipe (without the tuning slide) and the vibration should come hence the sound. Pulling off the mouthpiece of the leadpipe, and no lip vibration should be heared, just air.
That means you are pretty relax…
As Guillaume mentions start with just the lead pipe. Blow the mouse piece by releasing the air then inserting into the lead pipe and don’t change the flow(volume) or anything. It will eventually pop out.
Another way I practice is on Largo Long Tones(or any long tone exercise). Do the exactly the same approach but hold your trumpet and whatever keys down(start on middle C) with your right hand, then with your mouthpiece in your left hand hum the pitch, then ah-oooh(blow air), apply the mouthpiece to your chops(continue only blowing air- no buzz), then gently slide the shank into the lead pipe on the trumpet. Again, a full/resonant sound will come out eventually. Go back/forth by inserting/withdrawing the mouthpiece in both scenarios and make sure only air comes out when the shank is disengaged from the lead.
Hope this helps.
BTW – On the one with the trumpet in your hand. You’ll be amazed at how little air or slow flow you need to make the trumpet tone come out.
Thank you guys for your comments. I think I have identified my root problem/ inefficiency. I believe I have been overblowing since the day I started playing. I think I have always put too much air through the trumpet which has always caused my tone quality to dampen. I have been working way too hard and not having enough fun. I just realised this yesterday. Now that am trying to not overblow, and let my lips respond to less air, my range has decreased dramatically. I actually feel like Im starting from zero since I’ve never played like this before. But I hope that I have identified my root problem/ inefficiency so that I can finally improve my playing.
I guess my next step, after realising of overblowing, is to make sure my lips don’t clamp due to less air?
I have read an interesting earlier this week.
There are too much information so sometimes it’s quite difficult getting it.
Bobby shew’s advice:
Avoid overblowing, and you need to experience what it is.
Avoid blowing too soft as you can start pinching lips….
That makes sense… Sometime, when I didnt want to disturb my neighbour, I used to play too soft… ANd in the end, I had bad lips feeling the day after…
It’s a new start, but a new start to success
My range did drop three steps, from high E to C, when I changed the lip set up and use minimal pressure from the abdominals. I don’t kick any longer but it’s extremely difficult to avoid stress build up and stay relaxed. It’s a hard work to learn how to make less work on the trumpet…
Glad you identified the over-blowing culprit. I have always done the same and it’s a constant struggle not to when I go out and gig. I have shimmers of brilliance when I forget all the lesson stuff and just relax/blow while on a gig.
I then have to re-ground myself when I get back to wood-shedding in my basement each week outside of gigs. I hope the amount/percentage of playing I do(range, endurance etc) on gigs while NOT over-blowing increases little by little over time. This cycle will hopefully give way to eventually reaching 100% based on my new way of playing. It’s a journey of steps forward and steps backwards I guess.
bo.lundquist– I could be mistaken, but my understanding is that we should support with our abdominals as we get into the upper register, we shouldn’t use minimal pressure. We shouldn’t kick / blow with air to hit a note, but I believe we should be using steady or even increasing lower abdominal support of the air as we ascend. I stopped using air support / focusing on air as much and wound up losing the good sensations I had and the ease I was having ascending into the upper register to the point that playing felt weird, like never before, and my lips buzzed when playing on the mouthpiece without trying. And, as a result (I think), my lips felt stiff like the original post stated–perhaps that was their problem as well, perhaps not over-blowing but having the lips too close together / pinching them a little to the point that they buzz in the low / mid register.
I’m starting to come out of that funk today, finally, and what’s been helping me is to check every so often by playing low C or 1st line G on the staff and pulling the horn away from the mouthpiece to make sure there’s no buzz, as well as playing on the leadpipe–that seems to help my lips and has helped me get my range back. My tone is finally getting back to normal and the sensation of playing is improving. I did have a weird sensation that my mouthpiece was too small since coming back from a vacation on Sunday; air was escaping around the sides of my embouchre and things just didn’t feel right so I went to the 3C and I sounded and felt a lot better.
I recall one of my best days a month ago, when things were really peaking for me, was when I was focusing on relaxation of my neck, throat and closing the aperture from all sides (i.e. Maggio monkey) and supporting (not blowing or pushing / kicking) with air from below my ribs and trying to maintain a consistent flow / air column up through my throat, out the aperture and through the center of the mouthpiece as I ascended chromatic scales using slightly increasing support (but not playing louder) as I ascended. I had a couple / few days like that that I remember and am trying to go back to using more air support again to get out of the funk I’ve been in the past few weeks, which have included a couple breaks due to vacations (I’m not a pro).
Please correct me if I’m wrong, anyone, as I’m trying to make sure I’m figuring all this out as best I can as well. But thought I would share my thoughts / understanding of the program / experiences. I’ve had some great days I didn’t even know were possible, followed by days I’ve wanted to throw in the towel once and for all–because I thought that being able to do what I was doing before, playing better / effortlessly up to F above high C would continue and I would continue to progress; instead, I slid backwards a bit, not just because of taking time off but I kind of lost my way a bit–somehow I was doing something(s) different than before. I suppose Greg’s golf analogy is spot on–it’s like I have a day hitting straight long drives followed by a day that I slice into the lumber yard (Caddyshack)…
It seems to finally be coming back again as I have patiently focused on the process, checking to make sure I’m using a sympathetic buzz / not tightening my lips in the middle of the embouchre, etc.
Yesterday, things felt so weird I actually took my trumpet apart and cleaned it looking for an obstruction or something wrong with it, it felt so foreign no matter what I did. Finally, today, my tone and sensations began going back to normal and my range has come back. I’m going to try to be patient and focus mostly on the sensation and tone and flexibility and not on my range for a while longer as I recover the sensation of playing with ease, the tone I had before (better than ever) and then focusing on consistency–really understanding WHY it’s working when it is so that I can better figure out what the hell I’m doing differently when it’s not, etc.
Hi there – Johnelwood !
Thanks’ for your story. It seems that we have about the same “problems”. A few days ago, I had a very nice moment when everything worked. I think Greg used to call it “a Coffee moment”. I managed to relax, and the high notes suddenly came out with not too big effort. But – the next day everything was closed again. It felt as if the instrument was clogged with some food left overs, and I begun to plan for a total cleaning….. When I try to think about all advices and how to do everything, it’s even more difficult to play. Apparently “men” can’t make two things at the same time…. (you might remember the American president Ford, walking in the staircase from an airplane and shewing gum – simultaneously. He fell…)
I will follow your strategy, to walk slowly from the low range and focus on a nice tone with relaxed lips and the air column all the way from the bottom. Hopefully the range will come.
No kidding, it seems like a lot to remember sometimes. I like the scroll at the the bottom of the Windworks main page–I jotted those down with some other things and the Maggio monkey and put it on my music stand. And I try to remember every once in a while, when I feel like I’m thinking too much to remember to close my eyes, be patient, etc. And also to remember that what feels the most natural and easy is probably the right way–what generates the most resonant sound, producing a full air column supported from below and tightening the embouchure in the corners, allowing the middle of the lips to vibrate freely and avoiding the lips from blocking the air column by pinching in the middle–lately, I’ve been holding out the high note softly but with supported air and slightly opening the aperture to free up the sound and tightening the aperture corners as needed, etc.
I’m hoping for good sensations / sound / flexibility tonight when I practice…fingers crossed…glad my livelihood doesn’t depend on my consistency, I’d be homeless… 😎
Wise words 🙂
Boy do I relate to the above! I find that before I start a lesson I play long tones loudly and softly and go up the scale with every breath.. I find that helps me relax. I can tell when I am not relaxed as the sound just does not come and my arms start to shake ( side effect of recent back surgery). Then sit back relax, big breath and try again going from soft to loud..
Things have been slowly improving for me.
Yesterday and the day before, I made it a point to check to see if my lips were buzzing as I was playing–especially during my warm up. It seems when they are actively buzzing around G on the staff (or around there), I have a bad sound, bad sensations, etc.
It seems that checking every so often and opening up the aperture when needed, helped me have a better sound and better sensations and seems like it’s helped me move forward–back towards where I was in December.
I still don’t think I’m back to where I was but in some ways things seem even better–I’m able to do lip slurs higher than before. And a resonant sound is coming back; I still don’t have quite the sensation of ease that I recall from before, but it’s improving.
It’s not clear to me if we’re not supposed to be actively buzzing throughout most registers, or just to a certain point. It seems like I can’t play middle C on the staff without buzzing in the mouthpiece.
Also, it seems that playing just the mouthpiece by blowing relaxed through it with the ahh-oohh sensation (kind of a pucker), then bringing in the corners to ascend then relexing the corners to descend, allowing the middle of the lips to buzz without pinching the middle together, gives me really good focus/sensations when putting the mouthpiece back in the horn–it seems like playing higher with a better sound is easier.
Was thinking some long tones might do me some good–including going up as high as I can.