I’ve been playing trumpet for 7 years, and in the last 3 years or so, I have plateaued and have felt little improvement in my tone, range, and technique. Since joining TM, I have come across so many enlightening posts about the hazards of excess mouthpiece pressure that I am now convinced it is the one barrier holding me back. My comfortable range right now is only up to a high C, and that only comes with pressure that sometimes makes my front teeth hurt and puts a nice red ring on my lips. It also causes my lips to really swell up, so that if I were to jump from that high C to, say, an A below the staff, the A would be unplayable because my lips just won’t vibrate. After extended playing time at the top of the staff, if I played at the bottom of the staff afterwards, my tone would be really shaky and hard to keep in tune. I could go into many more examples, but point is, I really need to learn to reduce my mouthpiece pressure.
So far, I have taken steps to try to do so. I’ve always played with my right pinky in the pinky ring, using the ring as my “octave key,” but just recently I started putting my pinky on top of the ring or in the air. This has taken a little pressure off, but it has also had the unfortunate consequence of making my left arm compensate for that lack of pressure by applying more force. What are physical techniques you guys use to reduce mouthpiece pressure?
I know for certain that one thing I need to do to play higher notes is to increase my air speed. I do this my “pushing” the air out from my diaphragm at higher velocities, but so far, it hasn’t really done anything for me. I have contracted my abs and blown so hard that my face turned varying shades of different colors and my abs burned, but the results were worse than using pressure. I also work out regularly and do a lot of abdominal exercises if that makes a difference.
Also, this post by camelbrass lists the 4 Ps:
I have always wondered what he meant by “tongue level (placement).” Is there something I should be doing with my tongue that will help facilitate higher notes and reduce my reliance on pressure?
Thanks everyone for reading my long post and answering my questions. I will also ask my band director (also a trumpet player) about this but want to get as much information as I can.