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!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

This... and many other things.


I'm playing the horn again and I wanted to document my efforts at getting back into shape... and many other things as well.

Tonight the Braves lost, the watermelon is juicy, it's hot in the Valley, more astronauts than ever before are orbiting Earth, and I played the horn for about an hour.

This is significant because up until last week, I hadn't played regularly or with this kind of focus since December 2003. But I'm ready now and it is good.

Last week, I looked around the internet for information on getting back into playing a brass instrument after an insanely long layoff. There was very little. So I'm going to chronicle my exploits as I attempt to get back in playing shape.

My apartment has thin walls so I'm using a practice mute most of the time. But I recently found a place to play out loud - and they have a dog, so that rules.

Today, I'm back with the practice mute, but making progress. I'm rocking the Elementary Rubank Method book and working on changing how I use my air. It's been so long since I've regularly read music that I'm re-learning that for the better too.

Today, I iced my lip after I finished. I'll be doing that again. The lip was tight and thick, but the ice knocked it back to suppleness. I'm hoping to keep that going and the progress on track.

More later.