I know it sounds drastic, but that thought has been going through my head all summer long, and recently my playing has dropped to a point where I am seriously considering quitting trumpet altogether and maybe picking up the saxophone.
Anyway, a little background about me: I've been playing trumpet for around 7 years, since I was a 5th grader; I'm a high school senior now. Until this summer, I had never taken a single private lesson, only played in the school band and tried to improve myself without any outside guidance. No one had ever told me not to use pressure to play higher notes, so that's what I did. For nearly 7 years. I could squeak out a high Eb by the end of last year. However, in January my playing suddenly went down the drain for no apparent reason. I got worse every week, and my band director let me know about it every day. I was miserable. Eventually, I hit rock bottom. There were consecutive days where I couldn't even play in the low register accurately.
By chance, I came upon this forum in May and learned two things: That jamming the mouthpiece onto one's lips is NOT the healthy way to play and that I desperately needed a good private teacher. During that same month, I also got a new Bach Strad, which gave me a small morale boost, and got in touch with a teacher that my band director recommended, a guy who plays lead trumpet for the jazz band in a local university.
So this past summer, I met with my teacher for 1 hour every week and diligently practiced 1.5 to 2 hrs every day. At first, I thought I was making some pretty good progress. Ricky (my teacher) had me roll my bottom lip out so that it lined up evenly with my top lip when I set my embouchure. Before, I had always tucked my bottom lip under my top lip and over my bottom teeth when I played. This made me an extreme downstream player to the point that my airstream was directed almost as if I was blowing on a coke bottle; that is, straight down. Ricky said that by doing that I was blowing all my air into the cup of the mouthpiece and not through the horn. Well, I rolled my bottom lip out and voila! For the first time, I could actually free buzz, something I wasn't able to do with my lip rolled in like before. Granted, I could only free buzz pedals and up to the C below the staff, but it was a start. I thought I had solved all my problems with that embouchure change.
Well, now summer's over, and school's started, and I'm no better off than I was that first day I made the embouchure change. I can still only free buzz to that low C, and can really only play up to first line E on the horn without tensing up my neck or applying arm pressure. I try blowing faster air, but all that achieves is tensing up my neck to the point that my throat hurts and causing me to bottom out. Can you believe it? I bottom out after a low E?!? I certainly can't believe it. I've discussed this at every lesson with my teacher, but nothing has helped. He tells me to RELAX, to approach trumpet playing as if it were the easiest thing in the world. Well, I've tried that, and it just makes my tone flat and terrible sounding and my range is still stuck at that low E.
I get really frustrated and depressed at times and can't get around the fact that I've lost two octaves in my range. I'm a senior now, which means I can take fewer academic classes and more music. I'm in jazz band and wind ensemble, and seriously, what can one play with a range like mine? Literally nothing. I can't play pedal tones or below the staff all day you know.
There, I've let it all out. I'm sure no one cares to read this, but out least writing it out has served a therapeutic purpose for me.