Hello TM community, I've been playing trumpet for seven years now, and until about a year and a half ago, I didn't practice everyday. Since that time I have only missed about 5 days of practice, those days were days when I was either really sick or otherwise unable to play. If there are days where I don't have much time to play, I try to play some long tones at least. My frustration is that some days I play and sound great, then other days I go and take steps backward with my range, embouchure, breath control, and overall sound... I sound like crap. Granted, I'm no Wynton, and never have been, but I am always striving to get better. Today I was getting angry as I was playing music that I can usually play and sound great at (a Gershwin medley with trumpet solos) and I felt like I was a beginner.
My problem with endurance and embouchure is that it feels like every time I put the horn up to my face, something is different, and I think really hard to have to not use mouthpiece pressure (and I don't know how much pressure is too much) when going higher, which means notes above second space C. My tone is very airy and my embouchure feels tight as all hell and it pisses me off to no end. I don't even know if I'm describing it right. When I get like this, I play with a tuner when I first start out doing long tones and try to play long notes and keep them in tune but they still shake just a tad and throw the tuner off, plus whenever I breath, my embouchure stretches and changes. Some days however, I play just fine and don't even think about it, but on days like today, all of the above occurs, and my lungs don't even feel as strong as they sometimes are, as if they won't fill to capacity. My tone is thin and airy and just doesn't sound good, perhaps I'm being too critical for being a high school player but I really want to be better and I am tired of taking these monotonous steps backward. The other issue lies with my chin moving up to play higher and my tongue not arching up in the back. I know about slurring up taa-eeh to get higher notes, and sometimes I can do that really well, but other times I get really tight lips and end up pulling the horn to my face even though I am trying to put more air through the horn and am arching my tongue. Sometimes I can play G on the staff with no problem, and sometimes getting above first space E is a tight-rope walk.
So what do you think I'm doing wrong, usually I practice for about an hour to three hours a day depending on the time, sometimes even more than that, but on days like today I am fuming like a mad man at the music placed in front of me. It's not the music, I have the rhythm down, it's just my tone, I should sound better for how much I practice. Perhaps am I practicing too much? Do I need to take a day off? What exercise do I need to do to get my embouchure to stay consistent, and for me to not have to think about it when my tone goes south? I consider myself a good player, and have great tone usually, and pretty good range, but I need to build it up, especially since I am going to Europe for the American Music Abroad Blue Tour on June 24th for two weeks where I am first chair playing all first parts, and the other first trumpet player is okay from what I heard on the first rehearsal, but I have to play with the state of mind that I don't know if he's going to practice the music or not so I need to be extra-prepared, but he doesn't want want ANY solos (which I'm fine with, I'll gladly play all the solos if I have the endurance to).