Hey everyone – Apologies if this is covered clearly elsewhere, but it’s been bugging me for years.
Since I was a kid I’ve been a whistler. When I started playing trumpet I thought it would be an advantage, but I soon found (and was told) it wasn’t.
What exactly is the relationship between a melodic whistling style and the pucker embouchure recommended here at windworks? I often find when i do the mmmaahooo and tu tu tu that there is a little whistle there, or when I try to anticipate the sound in the horn or lead pipe, I automatically whistle. I’m wondering is there is a way I can use what I’ve known since I was a kid, or use what I know to undo the obstacles around my embouchure. I still really struggle to play consistently and relaxed. Sadly I’m a much better whistler than I am a trumpet player…
Great question, I’ve wondered the same thing and have had the same experience with whistling.
I’m not sure and I could be wrong (anyone correct me if I’m mistaken), but my take on it is that there are direct similarities in how we engage/tighten the aperture corners, arch the tongue and perhaps control the air (and not over-blow) when doing whistling and playing trumpet.
When I whistle, I tighten the aperture by tightening my lips around the aperture/air column while arching my tongue and it feels like the fleshy middle of my top lip is the key to the highest pitches I can reach.
One thing I have done since starting WindWorks is to focus on clamping down (top to bottom, rather than tightening from the sides/corners) my lips as I whistle and I’ve noticed that it stops the sound as it tightens the top/middle of the lip which is the vibrating surface. That helped me solidify my understanding of what Greg was describing, FWIW.
I do feel some similarities to how things feel when I play trumpet; it’s obviously not the same but I do think there are some similarities.
I’ve looked online but haven’t found any information.
A few years ago I decided to teach myself to be able to do that loud wolf-whistle that I’ve seen others do, when they put a two fingers into their mouth and the resulting whistle can crack a wine-glass. Well, I looked on Youtube (yes, in this data-rich age, there are people showing you how to learn to whistle!) and did it over a few months and can now do a whistle that hurts my own ears. For no reason other than it was fun to learn to do… but there was another reason:
I knew from ‘normal’ whistling, that when we pucker up and blow, like Bogart said to Bacall in The Maltese Falcon (one of my favourites, B&W and old but classic!), that as soon as we blow too hard, the whistle doesn’t work. Hence a parallel with trumpet playing. So my learning to wolf-whistle with my fingers in my mouth reinforced that there is a certain sensation of the optimum amount of air flowing over the lip aperture, with too little meaning no sound, whilst too much means the lips can’t vibrate since you’re holding them do stiffly to prevent them blowing outwards. It was fun to experience that directly, away from the trumpet, to remind me not to overblow.
This is why I LOVE this forum, enthusiastic conversation without the nonsense, thanks guys!
Whistling is like blowing over the top of a bottle or a flute and is known as a Helmholtz Resonator which is different to a stopped pipe like a trumpet so the science is slightly different but that doesn’t matter… we are talking about sensation and YES @eckleberg there is much merit in being able to do it.
This whole whistling thing has been mentioned several times in the last month. I think that if there is a whistling sound in the mouthpiece, there may be a tiny bit of resistance at the lip however if you are getting the Sympathetic Oscillation on the leadpipe, then it is of no concern.
I will start week 2 of #wihsc with some whistling so tune in.
Ah… thanks so much for this Greg and @Johnelwood and @qnaza. So helpful.
I’m going to spend a bit of time absorbing all this through the week – but atm it seems like starting at mmmaahooh and easing back from the whistle shape gives me the ‘in between’ shape that I’ve been looking for, as well as letting me know how to manipulate my whistling embouchure into something that I can use. It feels like it gives me a way of knowing when I’ve tensed up too much too, as it kind of starts to whistle…
Maybe I need to rewatch Maltese Falcon and learn to wolf whistle too… But trumpet first… 😉
Of course I need to investigate more, but this was a really inspiring first post and set of replies.
Thanks so much,
I think the differnce is when whistling your tongue is totally flat down (on lower notes). But when you play, the middle of the tongue is placed forward in position of the attack (tip of tongue behind bottom teeth). And if Im right the sides of the tongue stay there (in all registers?). This position of the tongue also helps the corners of the lips together (and make the chin flat). It also make the corners not smile or (down sour). Just firm together – not straining. Greg had a good word for that instead of tension – engaging??? or supporting.
I have been thinking more about the concept of Whistling and Playing the Trumpet. I recalled this thread, so I thought I would post again on this thread.
I feel that there are some useful similarities to note between whistling and playing the trumpet, such as:
1. You must keep the lips as relaxed as possible and form the aperture by engaging the muscles around the lips (i.e.”aperture corners”) in order to whistle. If you purse or pucker your lips too tightly by engaging the muscles within the lips themselves, the vibration stops. This is similar to playing the trumpet–if we engage the lip muscles directly when playing, it can reduce the ability of the lips to vibrate as freely/fast (high) vs keeping them relaxed.
2. If you blow too hard, as noted above, the vibration stops
When I Blow, as if to blow out a candle (for instance), I tend to form a firmer shape with my lip muscles tensed, and no whistle happens because of this flexion of my lips and the fact that I tend to blow harder.
When I Whistle, I relax the lips more and back off the air more than when I blow.
For some people, I am wondering if this analogy between Blowing out a Candle vs Whistling may help them.
But of course this may only be me–others might not have the same sensations as I do when I whistle / blow out a candle. So I thought I would just throw this concept out on this thread and see if Greg or others might have an opinion / want to comment.