An observation...any feedback is appreciated!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by silverstar, Nov 13, 2005.

  1. silverstar

    silverstar Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 6, 2005
    Ok, I've been off my trumpet for a week because of a nasty ear infection and the doctor telling me not to play until Monday. (I practiced tonight because I really couldn't stand not practicing's practically Monday, so, it's ok. :oops: )

    During the time I was off, I did a lot of thinking about my practicing over the years. It seems that I made the most progress when I had just started, and I didn't know anything about embochure set-ups, equipment, 'correct' and 'incorrect' breathing, or tone quality. Back then, trumpet was just something fun to do, something I could use as an excuse to get out of doing math homework, something I could make noise with.

    Today, and the past...ohh...4-5 years, it seems like I've been stuck on my own little platform in a box...not doing much. I began thinking...4-5 years ago, I started thinking about my embochure, and worrying about my breathing, and thinking about equipment, and freaking out about my tone quality. I also started to make trumpet a life or death thing. I had to be the best. I had to work hard to be good. I had to do this, I had to do that. Trumpet practice became almost a chore, a huge mental exercise, something that had to be analyzed and gone over with a fine toothed comb.

    So, I'm going to try something. I'm going to practice everyday, just because I can. I'm not going to really worry about anything, I'm just going to do what feels right...and I'm just going to play. I don't have to do anything. I don't have to be the best. I just want to have fun, get out of math homework, and make some noise...that hopefully sounds better than it did in 4th grade! ;-)

    So, I know that the short way to say this is something like, over-analyzing leads to paralyzation....but, I thought that my thought-process might be something that would be of use to someone.

    My question is this, has anyone else done this? Is this idea of mine something worth trying, or what? I would really like to hear Mr. Laureano's thoughts on it, and everyone else's thoughts too. I don't know, it just seemed like something worth discussing with people who actually know what they're doing.

    Thanks guys....
  2. BradHarrison

    BradHarrison Pianissimo User

    Oct 31, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    I like mix it up, especially with my jazz playing.

    Sometimes I get bogged down with complicated changes and don't play anything interesting because I'm just trying to navigate the chords on the page. Although it's important to learn tunes the hard way I often like to play with an Aebersold album(esp. standards) without thinking about the changes too much. It's great to practice playing a tune when I know the melody but haven't learned the changes yet. I get to develop my ear and often end up playing much better jazz because I'm thinking musically instead of technically.

    Remember to keep trumpet playing fun but the reality is that it's hard work. It's okay to play just for fun because as long as you're playing musically you can't really do any damage. However, make sure you spend time on dedicated practice because you'll be happy you know your harmonic minor scales, can multiple tongue, and have great flexibility(and a million other things!) if you study trumpet after high school.
  3. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    So, Lara...

    You just want to play... not worry.

    But you want the security of what others think about that.

    Because it's scary.

    Think about that.

    This is the hardest thing you'll ever do musically if you can manage to take a deep breath and not worry about what we think.

    Your happiness doesn't depend on what ideas we have or what we think.

    The hardest thing you'll ever do is to go easy on yourself.


  4. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona

    Letting go of control is extremely difficult. At least I know it was for me!

    When I was in High School and College I knew that I could play the trumpet fairly well and I literally was in control of each aspect of my playing. From sound production, to sight reading, to planning my practice routines. The problem that I found is that playing was never easy for me. I really had to work hard for everything that I did.

    My instructor in College asked me point blank one day, “Derek, is playing the trumpet easy for you?†I wanted to scream out that it was the most difficult thing in my life, but I loved it anyway. I’m sure I said something like, “No. I have to work really hard to bring all the pieces togetherâ€. He said, “I can tell. It doesn’t have to be like thatâ€. I certainly wasn’t ready to understand what he was saying at that point in my life.

    Once that seed was planted though, I began to consider his words (this was almost 20 years ago).

    I seem to remember reading that you have a little brother (possibly kindergarten age). My middle son is in kindergarten, so we have some common ground on this topic. When you read to a kindergartner, they are with you on every word. They will ask questions, and after reading through something many times, they know the story and all of its details perfectly. They know the inflection in your voice, they know the timing in the way that you read, or the voices that you take on to portray different characters. They are sponges.

    When we practice, we are feeding information to our subconscious in much the same way that we read to young children. And in the same way that kids are sponges and remember everything, so is our subconscious. The subconscious is literally our advocate in the area of sound production (learning everything there is to know about ease of sound production during long tones). Look at sight-reading and it is right there as our advocate as well (identifying rhythmic notation perfectly, scale patterns easily, strong beats and weak beats, internal pulse, etc.). The more that we read to our “subconsciousâ€, slowly, and in sufficient detail, the stronger it is able to step up to the plate when we ask it to.

    The problem is that when we want to control the entire spectrum of our playing, we realize that playing is hard! There’s just too much to think about. This is where letting go comes in (and as I said in my first sentence, this is extremely difficult to do).

    You need to let go Lara.

    I put the trust in the practice that I do in developing my personal playing advocates. When I do my balance / centering exercises to cultivate my resonant, colorful, vibrant sound, this is my chance to read to my subconscious. I go slowly, and let the sound happen. I resist the urge to control sound production. I’m never on a schedule during this part of my practice. I don’t have to finish in 10 minutes so that I can then get to skills (articulation, lip flexibilities, scales, etc.). This is purely time that I devote to falling into that great sound and staying there for sufficient time so that when I call upon it later (during practice or performance), my advocate steps up and says, “I know this story so well…let me tell you all about it!!!â€

    It’s just like a kindergartner excited to share something new that they have just learned.

    My advice to you is to do exactly what you are planning on doing. Make it fun again. Once you find that for yourself, remember to let go. Take control of things that make sense, and let go of those things that your body knows how to do better than you can ever hope to.

    I hope this helps!
  5. silverstar

    silverstar Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 6, 2005
    Coolies. So, I'm on the right track.

    Maybe this will help with the tension that I'm always fighting?

    Thanks guys.

  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Lara, for me playing trumpet has always been a compromise of current ability vs contentment with my current ability. Playing trumpet is not hard, however, playing trumpet well, that's a different matter altogether.

    I think you might be onto something though. Earlier this year I had to take a look at why at 35 years old, I continue to play, and I had to reassess what my playing goals were. I ramped up hard for an audition which ultimately I didn't win, and that also was a learning experience that allowed me to assess where I am as a musician, and whether or not I can be happy with that assessment.

    I think that what you are dealing with right now might be very similar to something that my older sister Kathryn dealt with, and why she chose to abandon trumpet immediately following her graduation from high school - a surprise considering her ability and her prior level of commitment to it. She simply got to the point where playing trumpet for the love of playing trumpet and making music no longer outweighed the pressure she put upon herself to stay on top, and she decided to let it go because it just didn't play a key role in what she had envisioned for her future.

    My older sister Kath was a kick bootie player - she was first chair in our high school band as a senior, she won best of class trumpet solo at music contests that year and participated in a number of statewide honor bands and was always among the best. She had a good sound and exceptional accuracy and technique for an 18 year old kid. Sadly, the last notes I ever heard her play on a trumpet (and to my knowledge the last she has played) was when she came home at Christmas during her freshman year of college and played a chromatic scale up to high C, just to see if she could. It's too bad that she lost her passion for it amid all the details.

    Lara, I think that your change of mindset is going to be a great thing for a while, depending on where you want to go with it, but for now, simply take joy in the brilliance and energy that emenate from the bell of your horn.
  7. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona

    Let’s say next year you’re assigned a group project in school as a Freshman and you have the role of the project leader. You are on a team with three other people (all Seniors with 4.0 GPAs, great attitudes, and a drive to do their best). What happens to your tension level when you have to hand over part of the responsibility to each of your team members?

    It’s great to share the workload, and the more that you can turn control over to your subconscious for individual, routine tasks, the less tension that you will experience in your playing. How freeing from tension is it when your entire conscious mind can focus on music instead of having to worry about tightening this or relaxing that?

    This is the answer that you are looking for.
  8. MahlerBrass

    MahlerBrass Piano User

    Oct 1, 2004
    Houston, TX
    I think our progress slows down mostly because we come to the realization that trumpet playing is not easy. Like you said, in 6th grade we never thought "man, this is hard" at least I never did, we just played to have fun. I have a 7th grade student that is an incredible player and is way passed the level he should be playing at, and the greatest part is, he has no idea that what he's doing is not normal, he thinks that all 7th graders play like him, and I always try my best to keep him on that thought. Hope that helps!
  9. trjeam

    trjeam Pianissimo User

    Dec 5, 2003
    i went threw the exact same thing my 10th grade year of highschool... eventually i just did what sounded good to me and what made me happy and it all paid off.. my 11Th grade year i made all state jazz band...

    i realized that in life there are some things that are out of your control and that everything comes in its time...

    once i realized this i stopped forcing things and let them come naturally, thus my playing improved allot!
  10. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Or maybe you progressed at the same rate, only it seemed like you were progressing more because your attitude about it was more relaxed.

    There are times to relax and let it be, and there are times to get focused and get to work, however, if you are stressed or feel pressured in some way about the improvement you wish to make, it sure sucks the fun out of playing horn and making music, and why would we continue to do it if it wasn't fun?

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