Reducing pressure for brass instruments
This is my first ever blog post, so please bear with me.
First of all notice the title - it is REDUCING pressure. My own personal opinion is that there is no "no-pressure" playing in a real performing situation. You need at least a minimum of pressure pre-required to obtain the seal needed to produce a full, open and beautiful trumpet sound.
However, excessive pressure is just as detrimental to sound as the sound produced with no seal. Using excessive pressure (banging/slamming the horn into your face) can not only destroy your sound and endurance, but can hurt your face/lips muscles to the point of no return. So what can you do?
This tip is aimed at advanced amateurs and above level. Often applying excessive pressure is a problem, especially in the stage where we want to play higher and louder.
1. The obvious and very traditional answer is palm exercise as taught by Stevens/Costello and Cat Anderson (1st picture). Very effective. However, for an amateur with limited range it can get very quickly boring as he can play only few notes this way at the begining.
2. Less effective than #1 (works best on a cornet), but...you can use your valves. My adapted version of the palm exercise (2nd picture). Balance the horn on your left palm, while pushing the valves with the fingers of your right hand (better not using the pinky hook/ring). This way you can play any exercise such as in method books like Arban, Clarke etc, but still reducing pressure and improving compression from the face muscles and lips.
3. Bryan Davis' way - it gives you a more open position overall, but you can apply some more pressure than #2 so be careful
Here is Bryan showing his own way (wrapping the hand around the top part of the valve casing and the bell, without grabing/gripping the horn)
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a no-press technique. I use the weight of the instrument to apply the necessary for a proper embouchure seal pressure. I didn't invent this technique just adapt it so students can use the valves as well.