Alison Balsom makes it look effortless, how does she do it?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by turtlejimmy, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

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    Allright, just hold the phone here ...... There was an actual bit of interesting thought regarding my original question (although good story Jimbo, wish I'd been there ....) aside from dresses and razors :dontknow: .... where was it ..... yes,

    "She uses her air and the supporting muscles of the face rather than the muscles within the red of the lips to produce the notes."

    :-?



    Can you elaborate on that???

    T
     
  2. lakerjazz

    lakerjazz Mezzo Piano User

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    I've been hearing a lot lately about puffing being bad. I puff (not my cheeks) but an area that sort of makes a rectangle around my mouth. I can play without doing so, but there is a noticeable difference in the sound. It's actually not that one sound is better than the other, just different. I was going to post some youtube clips some time soon anyways, so maybe I'll add this to my list. I originally developed the puffing when I was trying to decrease mouthpiece pressure. When the "rectangle" is puffed, whenever I player higher, the air in the "rectangle" compresses and naturally pushes the mouthpiece away.

    Turtle- as for your original question, I think a lot of it has to do with embouchure type. Certain players play with tight embouchures, and certain players have relaxed embouchures. Either way, you shouldn't be strained when you're playing. However, people with relaxed embouchures may make it seem like they are playing effortlessly.
     
  3. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

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    If you watch the jazz legends on trumpet you can get the idea, by looking at their faces, that you have to put as much intense stressed-out energy into your playing as though you were killing snakes or trying to inflate a backyard swimming pool. You have cheeks puffing, necks swelling, facial muscles contorting, veins sticking out, knitted brows and on and on .......... My question is: Is ANY of that the slightest bit helpful and how much of it is counterproductive. And if most (or all) of it isn't helpful, how do you get rid of it?

    When Rafael Mendez says that it doesn't take any more energy or effort to play the trumpet than in ordinary conversation ..... It makes you wonder.

    Turtle
     
  4. Darten

    Darten Mezzo Piano User

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    I love that Mendez line, isn't that the same video where he then goes and plays the entire "Flight of the bumblebee" with one breath?
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2010
  5. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

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    I think it is. Pretty convincing lesson from Mendez when, to demonstrate a point, he nails "Flight of the Bumblebee" in one breath, and even gets the sound of a real bee better than most!

    And as for Alison and Tine Thing, I noticed they both started playing trumpet at age 7. That could be a clue. :-)

    Turtle
     
  6. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    That's an easy question and the way to get to that level is to practice the way rowuk and some of the others have recommended.
    Here's some other faces that don't seem strained:
    Mendez
    Smith
    Jensen
    ---
    Here's what to do:
    1)Watch Urban's videos on "Flow" (its free) and get use to using your air in a more efficient manner. Its so simple but effective.
    2)When you do your practice routine, imagine that your lips are "meat pillows". Do not smash, crush, or flatten the pillows. You'll know when you're doing it right because there will come a time when you will think to yourself "Gosh my lips are more like reeds that vibrate".
    3)Work on playing relaxed which often means learning how to conserve.
    4)You want your face to copy the kind of calm you see on Balsom's face.
    5)Good Luck
     
  7. Darten

    Darten Mezzo Piano User

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    Playing for as long as they have, it is easy to relax and let the proper muscles work, really second nature. It actually reminds me of an old Drummers joke, (yes, I am a drummer as well). It goes something like this, a trio is playing in Manhattan in a jazz club, on an off night. The place is mostly empty, but one guy keeps coming up and requesting songs that don't belong in the set. The band keeps telling him no sorry. Finally after ten tries, he slaps a $100.00 on the piano and asks for the song. The band immediately goes into the overly simplistic song without missing a beat. While playing the song, the piano player in his early 40's starts to wander and visually inspects the finish on his piano, the whiteness of the keys, he wonders what it would be like to play on real ivory from the 1880's. The bass player in his early 50's starts to wonder how many trees did it take to make his stand up bass, and how long did the tree live before they were cut down, and what mammals lived in those trees for countless generations. And the newest member of the band, a kid of 17 on the drums sat back and thought.... 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1 and 2 and 3........

    Time makes things easier.
     
  8. jimbo2348

    jimbo2348 New Friend

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    Very good response, Ted. Yes, stay away from that dress in your closet.
    Jim
     
  9. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    turtlejimmy sez about how these two women play with such a calm look on their faces:
    "And as for Alison and Tine Thing, I noticed they both started playing trumpet at age 7. That could be a clue".
    ----
    No, A lot of people start out early in life. These two started out early, had good teachers and were not allowed to develop a bunch of bad habits.
    Its not the quantity but the quality.
     
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I waited a while befor posting this time. As usual, only the face was really addressed.

    This level of playing is NOT just the embouchure. It is the whole body, mind, and soul. The embouchure and other face muscles only function this way when they are getting adequate support, the rest of the body is fine tuned to playing (posture, relaxed, attitude, preparation). Even before she takes her first breath, she is READY.

    Please start thinking whole body when we talk trumpet. Her embouchure is useless with my body, just as mine is useless with hers. The same goes for our ears, brains, body use. Only when we make the TOTAL, HOLISTIC investment, does everything come together.
     

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