Air is the most important factor in creating sound on a trumpet. Which is more important: breathing in or blowing through the trumpet? The answer is that they are both equally important. The way in which we breathe in will affect the sound in which we play. We should always be striving to be more efficient about the way we play and never waste our effort. Tension or tightness in our bodies is a prime example of wasting energy. We can minimise wasted energy by simply being aware of it, but more importantly by positively playing in a relaxed and focused way. We start this process by the way in which we breathe in.
First off all we should nearly always breathe in through the mouth (rather than the nose). It is the most efficient and natural way to breathe in a large amount of air quickly. We form the embouchure with the mouthpiece then breathe in through the sides of the lips.
Exhaling all the way out before breathing in can help us to breathe in. The most natural thing after exhaling all of the way out is to breathe in; when you breathe in open your throat so that the air is drawn in a relaxed manner. The air can be drawn in either quickly or more slowly as is appropriate.
Always take the biggest breath. Not so that we have more air to play a longer phrase, but because the air pressure is higher and so wants to come out! Our lungs only half full of air means we will have to work harder to maintain the same pressure and that is obviously more demanding. This is even more important as we play higher notes.
Time it so that after the air has been drawn in there is no delay before playing. Holding the breath, even momentarily, can create tension, fear and doubt, and interrupts the natural flow of playing and the music.
As the air is expelled while playing it should likened to a controlled sigh. Pitch the notes with your airspeed. Always let your air flow smoothly through the vibrating lips.
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