about practicing softly.. how does this work?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by coolerdave, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    okay I read a lot about practicing softly .. ie Cat Anderson soft as in whisper soft..
    I get that you want your chops to be supple and respond without having to pump a ton of air to get the note going... and I get trying to produce the tone evenly without jumps in volume.
    my question is more to do with the quality of the tone produced and what is the thought process and progression suppose to be.
    When I play whisper soft the overtones are not as rich ... Is it going to get better just by putting in the reps and working on breath support. Are you suppose to work your embrouchure to improve the tone consciously? My gut is to not over think it but listen .. then again I have no idea
    Chime in folks
  2. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    You won't get as many overtones when you play softly because you're not making the horn vibrate enough... but that's not a bad thing, right?

  3. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    that's where lessons pay off ...you can actually hear what you are shooting for.
  4. bagmangood

    bagmangood Forte User

    I haven't found that practicing softly (as a general practice) helps me too much. When playing music, I play it at volume, for clarke type exercises I play at a comfortable orchestral mf.

    What I do find, is that I can't BS at piano. If my technique is weak in any way on a particular passage, I can't play it piano without it sounding off. Soft is a good test for me.
    I can also see it being useful for making sure you stay relaxed on long tones and flexibility exercises.
  5. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    coolerdave likes this.
  6. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    Great answer Mike .. that is pretty much what I sound like when I do these. I forgot to mention that this is for warm ups only ... maybe a little bit of interval work as well.
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Playing softly has many advantages besides minimal chop drain.

    1) Low impact repetitions- we are not building a six-pack in our face, rather through repetitions training habits

    2) breath control - the air stream is much tougher to get started and/or keep flowing. Especially at the beginning of the note we are training a smooth transition between in- and exhale

    3) listening - our ears pick up sonic clues that tell our brain what to do. When playing softly, less room information is in that sound package that reaches the ear - our brains have more raw info to work with

    4) attack - the sound of our articulation is much more pronounced when not followed by a louder sound. It is my belief that we purify the sound production process without the tongue and then add only as much as is needed to "articulate" (shape) the sound. Tonguing should not be kick starting the vibration of the lips.

    5) disconnecting speed and volume. Students will naturally play soft things more slowly, soft things with a less decisive "banging down" of the valves. The only way to clearly define the path between notes is to move the valve as fast as possible. When playing soflty, we hear the valves hitting the felt or rubber grommets.

    6) slowing down in general - I think that most of us are more ore less addicted to stress. This is brought on by our tempo in life, but also the "intenisty" of things affecting the nervous system - loudness, taste, feeling, smell - it is hard to get into a reflective state when we pack ever more into our day.

    7) holistic thoughts - true, when we practice we are practicing, but the combination of being more in tune with our breathing, articulation, sound, rhythm, musical thoughts is simply highlighted when we take a portion of our time with the horn and lower the volume. It makes no sense to ONLY play softly, but in my experience, those with peace move forward faster and more noticably.

    I strongly recommend soft playing!
    coolerdave likes this.
  8. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    I never thought of this consciously before but yeah, I am more relaxed playing softly and it does have some sort of mental medicinal thing happening... great points Robin
  9. melza

    melza Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2010
    Sometimes if Im working on a piece I will be blaring it out without realising but then I sit back and play softly and then it falls into place, don't know why it just does.
  10. mrsemman

    mrsemman Piano User

    Apr 8, 2010
    In my "comeback" to the horn, I read about the values of soft playing, such as what rowuk wrote. What I discovered was that I was able to embouchure, and develop my endurance, pitch, and tone, air, etc. I went from getting tired at about a half hour practice session to two one hour sessions per day. I may still suck, but I have greater endurance.


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