When we play the Trumpet, we have to put air into an instrument that is already full of air. The Trumpet responds by ‘blowing’ the air back at us (resisting the air) which is back-pressure. We need to keep the amount of back-pressure to a minimum, by reducing the volume of the air. i.e the same amount of air, made smaller. This is done by compressing the air before it goes into the mouthpiece/ instrument. I have developed a technique called The Reflex, which will enable you to create an excellent Air Compression and, I can show you how to do it in a one hour lesson. Firstly, I would like to explain where most people go wrong when ‘blowing’ a Trumpet.
1. They try to blow a large amount of air down a small hole ( the mouthpiece) so that it will speed up and, compress the air that is in the Trumpet. The higher they play, the harder they blow. We are simply not strong enough to over-power the Trumpet in this way. The Trumpet simply refuses the large volumes of air and ‘blows’ it straight back at the player, which is very stressful for the lips, resulting in tired lips/face muscles. It is possible to play this way but, it is very limiting and frustrating. Many players never progress past this point and spend their whole life trying to win a impossible battle!
2. They use the lips to create air compression by playing with a pinched or, very small aperture (hole between the lips). This way, there will be less surplus air going into the instrument, resulting in less back-pressure from the instrument. However, they will still experience back-pressure because, there is still a surplus of air; most of the air cannot exit the ‘almost closed lips’ which, is still very tiring for the lips/ face muscles. Using the lips to create air compression in this way, is also very inefficient. There is a far more effective way to create the air compression needed to play the Trumpet.
There is a Third Way, which is a much easier, far more efficient way to play the Trumpet. The ‘surplus’ air also needs to be kept away from the oral cavity, reducing the stress on the lips/face muscles. It doesn’t take very much air to play a Trumpet but, it does take a lot of air pressure. That said, a full breath is needed to create the air compression required to play the Trumpet, even though most of it (surplus air) should not go into the mouthpiece, instrument OR the oral cavity. The surplus air should be kept away from the mouthpiece/ instrument/oral cavity, as much as possible. We want to maximize how much we compress the air BUT, minimize the amount of surplus air that even goes into the oral cavity. It is important to keep the surplus air behind the tongue, where it can work for us, by creating air compression, instead of it working against us, in the form of back-pressure, which causes fatigue! The best players in the World play this way. Some of them just do it naturally but, others have to figure it out. The best players in the World haven’t necessarily kept it a secret, they just find it difficult to explain. Therefore, it’s just a case of explaining how to do it, so that everybody can understand it. I can teach you how to do it in a one hour lesson, by teaching my technique, which I have named The Reflex!
The Reflex concentrates on the ‘out-breath.’ In other words, what we do after we have taken a breath. I will show you a series of ‘out-breath exercises’ that are done away from the Trumpet, helping you to develop my technique, The Reflex. There are 3 exercises that are done consecutively, that take a total of 15 seconds to do. Once learned, they must be done intermittently, all the way through every practice session you do. They are done in the rest periods between pieces of music, studies, scales etc, so they do not add any time to your practice sessions. With these 3 exercises, I can teach you how to do The Reflex in your first lesson and, how to apply it to your Trumpet playing. Then, it must be constantly reinforced and developed. The more you do the 3 exercises( 15 second routine), the more you will develop The Reflex, resulting in your Trumpet playing improving at an astonishing rate. I have named this technique The Reflex because, as the name suggests, the technique becomes second nature or, a Reflex. The resulting air compression will do the work for you, instead of the lips/face muscles. Once the energy, which has been created by the air compression, starts to do the work, you will relax in the chest area because, there is no need to push, anymore, making you a lot more relaxed in your playing, which has many benefits, including a much better sound, dynamic range, endurance, range and, flexibility.
How the lips function is also very important. In my lessons I will show you the subtle difference between how the lips buzz when free-buzzing to how they function when actually playing the Trumpet. I will show you how to free buzz (lip buzzing without the mouthpiece or trumpet). Most Trumpet players Free Buzz incorrectly so, I will show you how to find the correct Free Buzz for you. Everybody will do it slightly differently, depending on their playing position. Once you can Free Buzz correctly, you can apply The Reflex to Free Buzzing, which will really improve your technique. Free-buzzing is one of the 3 exercises, previously mentioned, that we use to develop The Reflex. It is very important to understand that incorrect free buzzing is detrimental to your actual trumpet playing so, this is a very important area. Also, for the minority of trumpet players who cannot free buzz, I can set you on a program of achievement in this important area.
By the end of a typical one hour lesson, you will have learned how to use The Reflex technique, to create an excellent air compression. You will also have learned how to find your correct Free Buzz and, how to apply the Reflex to Free Buzzing and Trumpet Playing. You will have the knowledge to move forward, really improving your Trumpet Playing.
Personally, The Reflex has enabled me to concentrate all of my practice time on the music, without having to waste valuable time on endurance exercises and warm up routines. It gives me the confidence to devote all my energy to practising what I’d like to be able to play, knowing that my technique is constantly being maintained and developed by The Reflex!
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