Monday, July 27, 2009

The lip rushes in where the air fears to tread.

Wow. For my first trick with the new blog, I will post once, get really busy and then wait more than a week to post the second one. My bad.

This week I'm stuck at home under the practice mute. The lovely place that I found to practice is closed up because the proprietors are off to Tahoe for some much needed recharging before school cranks up. I don't blame them, but a whole week of the mute is going to drive me crazy. I order this mute (Tiger). It gets rave reviews, and I truly hope that it lives up to its billing.

I'm happy to report that I'm having more success than I have in awhile in getting back into shape. My mind is just in a better place than even in college. My former college horn teacher would - no doubt - be very happy to hear that. He might not believe me though - I was a true basket case in college!

The airstream is coming back and the chops are staying supple. I had a rough time of it one day last week - sore jaw - but the next day was fine with some careful midrange exercises. The moral of that story: Even if you can play above the staff, when you're as out of shape a I am... don't. At least not until the jaw is strong enough. If it hurts, don't do it. Thus sayeth all doctors and brass players.

Another long-standing issue with my horn playing that I'm making progress on: initial attacks. I was never able to consistently get the air into the horn at the same time the embouchure activates, so I'd end up sounding the note late and/or using too much lip muscle. I'd tire out too fast as well (which is what happened during my otherwise lovely performance of the Brahms Trio on my senior recital). I've realized that a lot of that comes from fear of missing the note. What is there to fear there, really? I'm just practicing and no one can hear except me - especially under the mute.

All this made me remember an aphorism I came up with in college that never really worked then: "Never send the lip to do the air's job." Now I'm heeding that. I'm trying to get the air to hit just before the embouchure activates so that the air does more of the power lifting. Now if I can just get the air to move fast enough on a consistent basis...

Now I've done two horn posts and not "many other things." Next time: College Football!

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