I had a fantastic time at Phil Parker Ltd brass shop today, having a lesson with Danish trumpet/breathing guru Kristian Steenstrup.
We spent the hour doing a range of breathing exercises and putting the new techniques into practice in the Hummel Trumpet Concerto.
One of Kristian's main points was that you can't pick and choose where your air goes when you breathe in. So if you take a good enough breath, you don't need to worry about where in the body it goes!
He advocates putting a finger to your lips, breathing in with a 'Woah' sound and breathing out with a 'Toh'. If you keep the lips in the shape of your normal embouchure, the finger acts like the mouthpiece. It is important that the corners of your lips are relaxed when you breathe in, but that you don't open your mouth much wider to take in the air.
Two of the most helpful things I learnt today:
1. Always think about using a thick column of air - even when playing piano. It doesn't always have to be fast air, just free-flowing. We spent time feeling the desired airflow on the back of my hand, which helped me enormously when transferring this idea to the trumpet.
2. Posture is so important when playing - keep the 'S' shape in your back and don't slouch when standing or sitting to play. The ribs are then all free to move when you breathe and you can take in a greater capacity of air. It may feel silly/uncomfortable at first, but it won't look it in the mirror.
I now have the challenge of making these new ideas into new habits. It is going to be really important that I do Kristian's breathing exercises a few times each day, so that I start training my brain away from my old habits. I'm looking forward to spending the next week away in Llandeilo, where I can both relax and put Kristian's teaching into practice by breathing in lots of fresh Welsh air!