I came across another fine online ear trainer, Good Ear. It includes a variety of ear training exercises, including hearing and identifying intervals, chords (ranging from simple triads all the way up into extended jazz chords with alterations), cadences, and scales. There are also different options you can use to fix the root of the exercises to always be the same pitch or change, play back in different sounds, and give you the correct answer or not for feedback. There is even a section that gives you random pitches to test your “perfect pitch” recall abilities.
There are plenty of exercises good for beginners, but I found some ones that kept me challenged too. I especially want to go back and do more of the jazz chords exercises. I have a habit of lumping chords with extensions (9ths, 11ths, 13ths) sonically with the basic 7th chord, which gave me some answers that were close, but wrong. Some chords with alterations are more challenging to identify and some chords are easy to mix up with others (e.g., an A7b9 sounds an awful lot like a C#dim7 because they contain 4 common tones).
I don’t remember exactly how I happened across this, but I while ago I found interesting discussion of air pockets by trumpet player Tim Morrison. According to this link, Tim Morrison plays intentionally with some air pockets under his lips.
The primary pocketing spot is the upper lip and cheek area above the corners. It’s important to keep corners and cheeks firm, but to allow the air pockets to form. I’ve found this dramatically reduces counter-productive embouchure stress, yet keeps strength where you need it, which is in the corners and through the middle of the cheeks. One more thing. There is always air present under the upper lip/cheek area and even more noticeably when playing in the lower register. This is paramount in getting the “trombone effect” in lower register playing. As you ascend, the facial muscles come more into play and the air pockets become less noticeable, but are still present.
Take a look at this video of Tim Morrison and look at his upper lip. The resolution is a little low, unfortunately, but I think I can see his air pockets. Also, I have to say how much I loved watching the composer, Joe Hisaishi, conduct this piece. It’s unusual for an orchestral conductor to not use a baton, but he is a very expressive conductor.
While I’m at it, I’ll play “Guess the Embouchure Type.” Take a look and I’ll have my guess after the break.