Your ability to control the aperture is one of the most important keys to developing a strong and responsive embouchure. It is important that when you practice, you practice exercises that develop control of the aperture. While playing the trumpet, your embouchure is constantly making adjustments depending on the range and volume of what you are playing. These adjustments have a range of motion. It is important to practice and learn to control the entire range of motion in order to play the trumpet well.
If you were building strong biceps, you would work the entire range of motion. You would not just hold the weights. Strength and flexibility result when the entire range of motion is practiced. This is why you do not want to crescendo into the upper register while practicing. If you practice the upper register by blasting out the high notes, you are eliminating embouchure movement and control from your practice. Practicing and developing the correct embouchure movement is just as important if not more so than strength alone.
In very basic terms, as you play in the lower register, your embouchure is more open than when playing in the upper register. Likewise, your embouchure is more open when playing loud than when playing softly.
Playing low and loud will produce the most open setting, and playing high and soft will produce a more closed setting. This is your range of motion (maximum open to maximum closed).
If you play louder as you ascend (gun or blast the high notes), you limit the embouchure’s motion. The embouchure just sits there, motionless. The only thing that is being practiced and developed is your ability to force air. You are not developing a strong (controlled) embouchure, just a strong gut.
In order to maximize the benefits of your practice sessions, you need to maximize the “range of motion” in the embouchure (low/loud to high/soft). Practicing in this manner forces the embouchure or control mechanism to move. If you are not practicing control, you will never develop control.
Unfortunately, most exercise books tell you to crescendo when ascending. Likewise, most music is written with the top notes to be played louder than the lower ones. This gets the student in the mind set that as you ascend you start gunning it. This is where the student shoots himself in the foot! There is a big difference between practicing the trumpet and practicing music. While practicing music, you have to pay attention to all of the dynamics and phrase markings. While practicing the trumpet, the student’s main concerns should be on improving the trumpet playing machine. Maximizing the efficiency of the embouchure.
The only drawback with this exercise is that some student will over do the decrescendo into the upper register. They will start pinching out the upper notes. This is NOT acceptable. The decrescendo has to be within the boundaries of a good sound. Without a good sound, you have nothing!
The last thing to listen for is the clicks between notes. The clicks or pops that occur in between the slurred notes reflects both the accuracy and speed of the flexibility mechanism. The more pronounced the “clicks”, the more efficient the flexibility mechanism is working.
Things to listen for:
1. Centered sound in all registers. Never sacrifice tone quality in order to hit the note. The tone quality will help you determine if you are in the center of the horns tuning or slot. This is also the point of maximum resonance and ease of operation.
2. Clicks between notes. When you are producing noticeable clicks between the notes, your flexibility mechanism is operating correctly.
3. Low/loud to high/soft. Decrescendoing into the upper register maximizes the embouchures range of motion. Practicing in this manner will produce accurate control of the entire range of motion.
1. Big breath.
2. Relaxed exhale.
3. Continue to play with the same centered sound as in the long tone exercises.
4. Listen for clicks.
5. Play lowest notes the loudest.
6. Decrescendo up.
7. Do not pinch high notes. Play high notes as softly as possible while maintaining a centered sound.
8. Crescendo down.
9. Play even eight notes. Use metronome. Push fastest controlled speed.
As you ascend into the upper register, do not decrescendo so much that you lose the center of sound or start pinching out the high notes. Always play with the best sound possible. Without a good sound, you have nothing.