Learning to use the tongue was a hard-fought battle over a couple of years. I just did not “get-it”. I read, studied, research, and analyzed everything I could possible get my hands on. I watched every possible video. Vowels, silent whistle, breath push, breath kick….nothing, I just hit a wall.
Then, I played Chase’s Lip Flexibility on the piano and sang it over and over again until I had it memorized in tune and in time. I would then close my eyes, sing the exercise, then immediately play it without “thinking” about what the tongue was supposed to do. That is when it all came together. Playing from the musical mind will coordinate your tongue, embouchure, and air like vocal cords for a singer. It took years to stop fighting the trumpet physically and play it musically. This recently hit home when I was asked to play a natural C trumpet for a special occasion with little practice. All I had was the music in my head and my brain controlled my tongue like vocal chords singing music, and it all came off well.
Many recommendations will come for method books and exercises. My teacher would say all these method books and exercises are nothing special. The critical ingredient is the “approach” to the exercises, which is why a teacher is so important. I will add that with all this working well now, my teacher noticed that I was having difficulty playing phrases above the stave. He noticed that I was muscling through using “air power” and it was not working. He suggested playing as soft as possible to learn how to be more efficient at focusing my air. The difference is night and day: my control and range have taken a huge leap forward. But, it all starts with singing through the piece first and focusing on the rhythm.
(Mouthpiece-shmouthpiece). My teacher also switched me from a Bach 3c to 1 1/2c and the gains continue to come. I mentioned that a mouthpiece switch is supposed screw-up your embouchure. He replied that is because you did not focus on the mouthpiece or embouchure; just playing music.