Peter (hujhax) wrote,
Peter
hujhax

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... wherein Peter posts some very old trumpet-lesson notes.

Whew -- okay, here are my notes from my trumpet lesson back on July 6th.  (This was my last lesson with Josh Davies before he headed off to Canada.)  I never found time to transcribe it in Chicago, and I've spent the last week or so putting out post-travel fires and setting up employment, so... yeah.

  • What causes a double-buzz?
    • Lips are too relaxed.
      • Or parts of the lips.
    • Air is too slow.
      • Not tons of air, but quick air
    • Focus on the airstream going through the mouthpiece.
    • Lips are only relaxed enough to let things vibrate.
      • Everything around it provides support.
    • Focus on aiming your aperture right down the lead-pipe.
      • And a specific, tight aperture. (See below.)
  • Exercise:
    • Aim breath at a single point on a sheet of paper.
    • Use this to pin the paper against the wall.
    • Do this from increasing distances.
    • Again, this requires *quick*, *localized* air.
      • And you have to aim it precisely.
      • Or rather, be aware of where your airstream tends to go.
        • Adjust your head as necessary.
    • Start with thumb-to-pinky distance.
    • Account for the direction your breath naturally goes.
      • In your case, a tiny bit up and to the right.
    • A focussed aperture -- the air going to one single spot -- helps avoid double buzzes.
      • A double buzz will result from a second, 'straggler' airstream competing with the main one.
  • Exercise:
    • Another exercise: hold your hands in front of you, head width.
      • Blow through that without blowing on either hand.
    • Air that comes out of you should be cold
      • Cold = fast.
  • Embouchure = supporting muscles in your face.
    • Aperture = the actual hole that the embouchure supports.
  • Visualization is always useful.
    • This is because we can't *see* most of the important parts involved.
  • You will always have off days.
    • You will always have factors affecting your playing.
    • Take mental snapshots of the days that are great.
      • How does that *feel*?
    • Then, when you have a bad day, compare your current feeling to the "good-day" feeling.
      • This should tell you what to correct.
      • e.g. "Oh, there's tension in my throat."
  • Should resume mouthpiece stuff.
    • ½ buzz, ½ air.
    • Get the mouthpiece right, then get back to the instrument.
    • Be consistent (see below).
    • Try a C, then scales.
    • Again, lots of fast (cold) air.
  • Aim for *consistency* in your face.
    • Don't keep adjusting and changing the muscles.
    • Just find something that works and stick to it.
    • So if you have a good day, find that arrangement, and try to clone it.
    • If you feel something change, figure out what it is.
      • Try not to change it.
    • Descending into really low notes is a good way to practice emouchure consistency.
  • Scales:
    • Don't "muscle your way through it".
  • "Talking to yourself."
    • Vocalizing as you make your notes.
      • i.e. humming in your throat.
    • Don't do that.
    • This is because making a vocal noise closes your vocal cords.
      • ... and thus prevents the air from getting out.
  • There are a million simultaneous things you have to do to play trumpet.
    • When practicing, focus on the task at hand.
      • Other aspects of playing may have trouble.
        • * ... but give the thing you're currently practicing your focus.
    • Do as much as possible before you play.
      • e.g., place the instrument, push the appropriate valves.
      • This means you have fewer things to worry about.
  • Breath:
    • If your breath is analogous to taking a golf swing...
      • Don't "seize up" and pause at the top of that swing.
      • So don't hold your breath after intake.
        • Even for a split-second.
    • Instead, a fluid motion between breathing in and breathing out.
      • This allows for more control.
    • It helps to place your instrument before breathing.
      • Even placing your fingers on the valves early helps.
    • Again, always breathe from the diaphragm.
  • Loud playing
    • Practice on that.
    • Specifically, practice playing loud without *working* at it.
    • Minimize your effort and motion while still getting a loud sound.
    • Focus on pushing out as much air as possible.
    • But no needless tension in your embouchure.
      • Just enough to hold the aperture.
    • Again, keep the embouchure steady.
      • Practice going soft, to loud, back to soft.
        • The aperture should open up more on the loud end.
          • (... to allow more air to go through)
      • But the embouchure should otherwise stay the same.
        • Keep holding the aperture in place, no matter how much air is getting pushed out.
    • And obviously, no tension in completely useless places like your shoulders.
  • Seated posture:
    • Don't be afraid to slouch a bit -- or rather, let the chair support you.
      • Being comfortable and un-tense is more important than being absolutely properly-postured.
  • You should video yourself playing.
    • Watch yourself for posture, embouchure, et cetera.
    • Watch for unnecessary movement.
  • Generally stay relaxed and still
    • Find your spot and just stay there
      • As opposed to making constant microadjustments.
  • You're aiming for consistency of playing
    • But that doesn't mean your practice should be mindless repetition.
    • Every time you practice, the practice means something.
      • You're working on something with intent.
      • You're getting better and more consistent at some specific aspect of playing.
    • Take note of the moments when you're playing is much better, and just aim to replicate those reliably.
      • Then, build it into a habit.
        • N.B.: don't train yourself into bad habits, by repeating doing something wrong.
  • Articulation/Tonguing
    • Think of tonguing a "doo" or "dah" word, with the tongue hitting the border between the gums and the teeth.
      • And it's not an aspirated "d".
        • So there's no puff of air with it.
        • Instead, it comes out smoothly.
      • Or you can make it more of a "t", using only the tip of the tongue.
      • Ideally, you do these phonemes without moving your jaw.
    • You can practice different patterns of articulations.
      • i.e., different rhythmic ways of playing even a constant C.
      • You can focus on articulation in the music you play.
      • You can start with a slow tempo.
      • You can do this with scale exercises.
    • Note that, whatever rhythm you're articulating, your embouchure should stay set.
      • Likewise, your body shouldn't tense up on the rests.
        • Your body should stay still.
    • Your airstream should still be continuous.
      • You don't stop breathing on the rests.
        • Okay, maybe you breathe out a bit less.
        • But mainly, your tongue just blocks the airstream.
        • "Don't blow *at* the notes; blow *through* the notes."
          • At high tempos, you *can't* blow 'at' each of the really fast notes.
Tags: trumpet
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