about practicing softly.. how does this work?

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

  1. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    In addition to some of the great comments so far I want to add. Playing soft requires more control so it does require spending time to get better at it. Remember that playing soft require less volume of air but the same QUALITY of air (support). I find it helpful to think of blowing through to the next note to keep the quality high. When we practice soft playing it makes our embouchure not as muscle bound as loud playing does. makes it more responsive, Efficient. Improves tone and actually helps our sound and control when we do play louder.
    coolerdave likes this.
  2. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010

    This is music to my ears.

    I have a small, very lively practice space in which I can hear everything extremely clearly, and the last thing I need to add to this nice arrangement is a lot of regular volume. I find it's perfectly suited to playing fairly quietly to a low to medium volume. It sounds good, and my ears don't ring afterward. Quite honestly, a steady diet of excessively loud playing in this bright practice room would damage my hearing. The trumpet is capable of that volume in this space (especially the Recording). Of course, so are my guitar amplifiers and I also keep them way down, even though, with the Shed, I can now play as loudly as I want.

    What's the point? Volume can be generated when you need it, but is totally innapropriate for this small a space. If there was an audience in here, a very small one, their hearing would get wrecked too, if you blasted them in the face, at close range. I never thought it made any sense to play with a lot of volume in a very small space. Generating more volume is a whole lot easier (for those of you who haven't practiced playing softly regularly) than getting down to a whisper. Once you've got that whisper, you have all the dynamics you'll ever need. Without it, you won't. It's that simple, IMHO.

    The trumpet itself is so perfectly suited to be an instrument of great expression (more than most!!!). Exploiting that makes perfect sense.

  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006

    I think that you are missing something important here. Comeback players KNOW that things like double C and fast tonguing exist. I notice "impatience" with this group. I do not know every comeback player on the planet, but those that I work with are often far less willing to build slowly.

    Low impact/high repetition IS the best way even for those that have not been playing consistently for decades. This type of habit is something that they NEVER learned before and the main reason why they don't give it a chance now.

    Just try it for the next 4 weeks. You will NEVER look back afterwards.
  4. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    show off
  5. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    My first try at this was a psuedi Cat Anderson ... G for 20 minutes .. mixed result
    I recently picked up a few Allen Vizzutti books ... and use them for the warm ups ... I really like these at pppp+p
    Just started playing the Clarke Technical Studies at pp ..playing using legatto tongue ( with the firm finger on the valve deally)... interesting and tough
    It is interesting how the thought process goes on this.. I was worried about losing my endurance at louder volumes as well.
    I wonder if the tone improvement achieve by playing soft makes the chops more efficient so basically you have a more dense tone and have to use less air to cut and project. I have no idea.. just something I was thinking about while I was practicing today.
  6. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    That it certainly does, in my experience.
  7. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    This has been a problem for me, especially when I first started my comeback. It's not that I'm unwilling to build slowly. But it's easy to remember what I used to be capable of, and mentally revert back to that time.

    coolerdave likes this.
  8. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    I'll presume most of us practice in our homes and as such there isn't much of that structure that helps us assess our practice quality. It is for that reason alone that I utilze a reflector placed about two feet in front of my bell. My reflector is a 4'x4' piece of surplus Lexan only 1/4" thick supported by 1/8" inch nylon rope glued to the three lower edges and suspended from the narrowed remnant of an old chalkboard frame sans chalkboard. Such seems to give me a little better feedback ... or I imagine it does.
  9. catello

    catello Pianissimo User

    Dec 14, 2009
    Winter Park, FL
    Another advantage of soft playing is it seems to encourage a looser grip and as you go up in the register, you are less likely to jam the horn into your face to "assist" on the high notes. This, I think, helps build good form as your range increases.
    coolerdave likes this.
  10. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    For me the key is getting absolute resonance at the lowest volume possible. Lessons won't always get you that. I have to use my own ears.

    I had a lesson with one local great who insisted that everything I play in a particular exercise we were doing MUST be done as if the Queen is arriving!! I did that for 15 minutes as was shot for the rest of the day. Some guys can get away with that, but not mortals. I went to NAMM last week and, per usual, overblew thanks to the loud surroundings and difficulty in hearing oneself in a convention hall, and was ruined for the next 36 hours. I did a big band rehearsal last night for 3 hours, kept it soft and projecting, and was about as fresh at the end than at the beginning. My sound got out front because I trusted it. When I don't, I overblow and I'm done.

    I have a friend who likes to practice in large rooms. That, to me, is a big trap. You want to fill that room with a big sound. He forgets that he's playing a trumpet! It's already louder than hell! I never practice in large halls just for that reason, so I can keep things soft and hear everything I'm doing, no sound rattling around, no echo coming back at me.

    yep, Clarke was right. pppp for most everything at home, and p for most everything out of the house. You want fff? Just add a touch of air and spice and everything will be nice.

    coolerdave likes this.

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