Air in the areas above and below the lips.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by kireiray, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. kireiray

    kireiray New Friend

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    Apr 18, 2009
    I have this odd problem when I play where i'll begin to let air get into the areas above and below my lips (if you try to make yourself look like a monkey, those are the areas I mean) and it really begins to worsen as I get higher, such as notes from g above the staff and up. Has anyone ever had this problem? Or does anybody know how I can fix it? I know it's a bad thing because it changes the way my air flows and slows down the stream, probably making my range worse.
     
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    kireiray,
    probably EVERY trumpet player has gone through this. A similar thing happens when we try to blow up hot water bottles.

    As far as the trumpet goes, it means that you are trying to force high notes and squeezing off your embouchure. Air goes to the area with the weakest muscles, and that is around your underdeveloped embouchure.

    There really is only one solution: learn to play more efficiently. That starts with a daily routine consisting of breathing exercizes, long tones, slurs, easy low register tunes and then some technical studies. We are talking about months not minutes of concentrated, intelligent practice to unlearn your present testosterone driven playing and relearn a relaxed approach. We are NOT talking about an embouchure change, new mouthpiece or new horn.
     
  3. kireiray

    kireiray New Friend

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    Apr 18, 2009
    Hey, thanks for the response. I know and understand that changing my mouthpiece or horn isn't the way to go. I've been playing a bach 3c for almost 7 out of the 9 years i've played trumpet, and I recently attempted to switch to a small mouthpiece to play lead at a school musical, stupid move and it really screwed me up for a few weeks. The horn I play on is a xeno and it's served me well.

    Do you have any information on exercises (along with the long tones, slurs, and lower register) that promote relaxation? I've been looking around and reading about clinics taught by players like adam rapa to find ways to relax. I've also talked about it with my private teacher alot and I understand the concept, but I have no idea how to really go about doing it. For example we talked alot about how trying to play high when you haven't truly reached that range is like lifting weights; if you overlift in the beginning before building a good base, you're just setting yourself up for failure and injuries. I have a problem in that I don't think I ever learned to really relax and play, and I feel that I become 'unrelaxed' in my embrochure as low as the middle e on the high end of the staff because of my play style.

    Also, I changed my embrochure from a forced into the upper lip trainwreck to one that looks decent about 6 years ago, and I haven't had too many problems. My main problems are mostly relaxation and confidence.

    Once again, thanks for the response, and sorry about the paragraph. :)

    edit:

    Oh and, is it recommended to use the pinky ring? I find that not using it relieves a bit of the over-pressure i'm using, but i'm not sure if it's a good idea or not.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2009
  4. Bachstul

    Bachstul Mezzo Forte User

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    Jan 25, 2009
    You will eventually strengthen your muscles, particularly, the buccinators.
    My younger son is going through with this now too, though he will deny it!
    I saw footage of Earth Wind and Fire at Woodstock last week on TV and you would have cringed watching this guy play trumpet with his cheeks puffed out full as well as his upper lip.
     
  5. Bachstul

    Bachstul Mezzo Forte User

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    The pinky ring or hook, is good for carrying your horn with your right hand, or holding secure to blow water out, change mutes, lowering onto a stand,etc.

    You can keep the pinky out of the hook/ ring if you have a habit of applying pressure. Most should look..do you have an impression of the hook in your skin after playing?

    I rest mine in the hook only because I don't apply pressure with it.

    Tips to relax.... Catch yourself and control yourself from squeezing the daylights out of the valve casings with your left hand; now you know why they put all that bracing in there. Instead, put the squeeze on your chops, with your chops, not the mouthpiece..
    Open your left hand a little..thumb and pinky in first and third valve slide, let it hang and rest on your index finger knuckle under the bell pipe. It should seem like the weight of the horn on your left knuckle would be all you need to control mouthpiece pressure on your chops.

    Feet flat on floor. Back straight, c'mon, your librarian taught you this!

    Don't "Hit" the note, just play it like you've done before.

    The charts and a metronome will cause stress. Turn it off and walk away from the charts and play whatever. Make your own music, LISTEN and RELAX. Then, take that experience back to the charts.


    If you find yourself still getting tense, at least make sure you're putting the excess pressure on your lower teeth/lip. You want to protect from mashing your upper lip. You can do this by, and you might notice an improvement in sound, extending your jaw forward a bit. This also opens up the throat, and raises your bell. Still tense? put that stress in your lower abdomen muscles, below your belly button. Squeeze 'em in. This helps lung air compression.

    Play standing up as much as sitting down.

    One thing about trumpets versus most other instruments, that dog-gone music stand is always in the way!
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2009
  6. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

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    I've found that mouthpiece playing can really help puffy cheeks and lips. Play a few easy melodies, in an easy register. Chances are, the lip won't puff. Add a daily dose of a few tunes on the mpc and see if the puffing improves.

    Sometimes, fatigue causes the puffing, so if that's the case, stop and rest when you feel it happening.
     
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Do a search on "circle of breath". I have posted it here several times and it says everything that I have to say.

    This link says just about everything necessary involving relaxing:

    David G. Monette Corporation

    The pinky ring is insignificant. The pressure would be a lack of control on the players part, not a muscle spasm created by the position of your pinky.
     
  8. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

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    I agree with rowuk about the pinky ring. You can use excessive pressure with the left hand more than the right hand pinky. It's about developing your emboucure with intelligent practice. Your teacher should be able to hlp you with this. It's not a hard fix. I've had a lot of success fixing this with my students.

    One thing you can try. "Button" the corners of your lips like you are making a dimlpe in your cheeks. When the corners are firm it should keep the are out of your lips.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2009
  9. kireiray

    kireiray New Friend

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    Apr 18, 2009
    I just did my first hour session of the day, and trying to very, very relaxed while playing. Some things I did:

    - the first 4 exercises of the buzzing book. I notice that my buzz sounds like a middle G to me, but in reality when I put the mpc in the horn it's around a low c.
    - long tones and scale progression to try and place where my gray notes are and where i'm putting too much pressure on my lips to play higher notes. It seems to me like if I start on a low g, I can go to around middle g, but at b and c they get this crackle. To fix the crackle I feel like i'm moving my entire embouchure, not just the inner aperture. I can't even go above a f or g trying to play relaxed.
    - I'm focusing on standing with proper posture and breathing, trying to make it as natural as possible.

    I didn't even bother trying to practice my band music (which goes to alot of D's and E's above the staff) since I can't play it relaxed. I can't get a good tone or play in the center of the pitch at F or above, and I really feel the lower air trying to get above and below my lips. I also feel alot of the pressure on my face with my left hand, so i'm focusing on holding the trumpet in a very neutral way where I don't force it into my mouth to burst out high notes.

    A couple more questions I have are:

    - Is it supposed to be possible to buzz (without a mouthpiece) as high as you can play? I find I can buzz to a middle G, but above that I can't do. When I play the trumpet by buzzing and then moving the mouthpiece to my lips, I can go to about the g without changing my embouchure. Above that, when I take the trumpet off my lips, my top and bottom lips bust out. It feels like when I go high I compress the middle of my lips (isn't that exactly what you don't want to do?) and air goes around the sides to form my higher notes. I think that this is what kills my tone and ability to play high.
    - Playing long tones piano, am I supposed to try and progress up the scale? I find that once I hit a certain note it gets very scratchy, and this is pretty frustrating; though I understand this process is going to take months, I was hoping i'd catch on a little faster as to what the proper technique was.

    I'll post again after I play later.. thanks for all the help and advice everyone.
     
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    kireiray,
    your daily routine will hjelp you build habits over time. If you pay attention, you will learn more about your own playing than ever before. That is another advantage of the routine: you have a daily reference. If something changes, you know what it isn't1

    Of course you can use scales as long tones. I do sometimes, but often I will play a couple of loww ones, then high ones and then some in the middle, The idea is to get a feel for inhaling then exhaling the tone as relaxed as possible.

    There should be no sudden change in the embouchure. The lips contract and that of course is visible. but at a smooth rate. Slurs are good for gaining control here.
    Don't forget a strong dose of MUSIC during each session. That is why we play in the first place.
     

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