Wednesday (8/22/12) 1:34am - ... 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rather off-topic, but I'm fairly certain I know your trumpet teacher through a mutual friend (he may remember me as Brad's vet friend). If you see him again, pass along my best wishes for the move and getting his crazy dog up to Canada