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Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by coolerdave, Jan 23, 2012.
you don't suck....just have become more critical
As well as practicing soft to warm up, It is also a good test of control - if you can play full dynamic range on a given note, you have full control over it - if not, you don't.
It's releatively easy to whack something with a hammer (blast it) but it takes much more skill to craft something (control) - this is also why your practice time has been able to increase - instead of hammering the chops, you are giving them gentle exercise, so they are gradually gaining strength.
My neighbors used to recommend soft playing before I got the practice shed. Now, they don't care what I do. I've been practicing playing softly relentlessly for months now without really knowing why (other than my neighbors thought it would be best). Thanks Rowuk, for clarifying what good it's doing me.
The key for me in getting into near whisper quiet playing was to stop taking big breaths. To get the feel of it, if you're having trouble bringing the volume down, try playing without taking a breath. Just whatever you have in the lungs at the time.... I've found it very easy to get soft notes with tone with much less air in my lungs. Now, it's easy for me with any amount of air. Practice makes it happen.
soft playing helps me to correct little errors in the embouchure --- like rowuk said, something or other, it helps the brain make the connections to the sound. I also found soft playing (YES, even a 2nd line G, in the staff) helps endurance. ONE THING I will caution on, is you have to play at volume also -- one of my new found problems (brought out by joining a community band) is that -accenting notes, and attacks, and a certain amount of volume -- is NOT EASY!!!! because for a lot of my comeback the last 3 or so years -- I have been practicing softly --------and neglecting the LOUD stuff --- I think you should do both!!!!!!!!!! IMHO -- to get it all on the trumpet, you have to do it all, and then you will have it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
KT has a point. Practicing softly helps achieve certain results, but doing it all the time will not enable one to play an ensemble part with all the nuances through a 1 hour performance, especially if one has to be ready to go through similar performance again the following day. Some nuances like sfz and accents have their own specific challenges. It is necessary to develop the entire range of expression of the instrument, while keeping in mind that some kinds of practice place more demand on our chops than others. It is also necessary to place any kind of practice within the whole context of one's development. What is the benefit of a certain type of practice? What result are we seeking? At what stage of development are we? It really helps to have a good teacher to integrate all this in a coherent way. There is no single way of practicing that holds the key to reaching a well rounded playing. There is no unique key to well rounded playing.
I have to agree in just practicing softly there is a subtle trap, it is better to practice dynamics in general, especially crescendo and diminuendo, as well as practicing soft high notes. The trap is that if you practice softly you will be able to play a good tone effortlessly, but then you start to feel so good you give it a little more air, then your tone goes away and you can't figure out why, until one day you decide to practice softly again... Arban's has some great dynamics markings, and I don't understand why more practice routines don't incorporate them.
This is simply not true. You obviously have not experienced the soft revolution. It is every bit as intense, the chops are much stronger than when beaten. The tone holds together much better than when more loud playing is done. I can play at pp for a whole week and then ace a big band or high baroque gig on the weekend. There is no need to practice loudly at home. Ensemble rehearsals are MORE than enough opportunities.
Clarke recommended this a century ago, it is still true today. If we look at what is missing in many trumpeters compared to other solo instruments, dynamics is not one of them. Most of the time the trumpets are held back because they can't play with enough color and still fit in the fabric of the ensembles sound. If more brin and less brawn was in the daily diet, everyone would be better off. What is missing? Timing, articulation, flow. All things that are MUCH better dealt with at low volume levels.
you are quite right in the aspect of "seasoned" veterans of the trumpet who have been playing non-stop for most of their lives --- I will bet that a poll of "us comebackers" on TM, who quit for many many years and are re-entering the world of the trumpet would disagree. I think the vast majority of us "comebackers" would indicate that it takes time to find that color (colour), and "that feel" of playing all of the dynamics and the finesse that should be required of all trumpet players. It is NOT necessarily brawn and blasting -- but playing dynamics with the crescendo, decrecendo, and sfz's and such STILL HAVE TO BE PRACTICED --- but kudos to those of you "veterans" who can play for weeks at ppp, and still be able to hit your marks -- I suggest that does not happen for everyone!!!!
I like to play very softly in a piece to add depth. A whispered tone from such a strong instrument is unexpected by the audience. It feels natural when I play very softly ( ppp - pppp ). But, I've always had good tone at any dynamic level. I like to incorporate unusual range jumps of octaves and more at soft dynamic levels. It adds diversity, depth and dimension to what I am trying to get across to the listener. It's enlightening to discover what we as trumpeters can achieve through our instrument that is pleasing to the ear.
Soft playing makes perfect sense. Control and concentration is so necessary to achieve this while maintaining a tone. Try doing this as faint as you can before allowing the tone to disappear, and do this regularly, control will be a side effect. It adds smarts to our playing.