Athleticism or technique/why is it (regarding range and flexibility)

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by jdostie, Apr 12, 2008.

  1. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

    Feb 20, 2008
    So here is an interesting question, given all the stuff I've read recently - different takes on embrouchure etc.

    Is range and flexibility more a question of athleticism or technique. I suppose it's both in a way, but here is why I'm asking:

    Range - now I realize I am what about two months into a comeback, but range is an inconsistent thing, High C is there, then it's not . . . Then I accidentally reach beyond it . . . Playing Clarke's first lesson today there are a couple of high C's, and I couldn't get them. This after working on some long tones and slurs/trills (more on that later). So, I set the horn down and took a break, came back and played that part of the lesson - there was the C - though I could feel the chops not too happy about it.

    Now on the flexibilities/slurs/trills, I think I am seeing some improvement here - but it's spotty. Some of the intervals it seems like I can get a nice trill going (if I am not too fatigued), and others it's like the horn locks in a pitch and I have to wrench it back out - so I lose all sense of tempo. And, interestingly, why is it that coming down is more difficult than going up - it's that same trill, just in essence starting on the higher note rather than the lower note, but once we get to the lower note, it seems like it would reset and be just the same as a few measures before (if you are following what I mean).

    So what I am wondering is about the athleticism involved vs the technique. In other words, if I can play a High C at time - with authority at different dynamic ranges, and not at others, is it necessarily a question of muscle fatigue, or could it be mechanics (I realize this can't be diagnosed on the internet), for example I mentioned in a previous post about my first lesson, where my teacher kind of settled me down - made me relax and the C came out nice as you please. And related to this, it's my hypothesis that even though range would be built (if it's muscular) through increased muscle building, and flexibility through well, flexing the chops - and seem like different things are required to achieve both, that working in flexibility exercises will probably improve endurance and range as well.

    And a final note here on the flexibilities, it's funny that some of the intervals are harder say at quarter notes than say 8th or 16th, triplets, etc. I am guessing this is just that I am "locking in on the tone."
  2. camelbrass

    camelbrass Mezzo Forte User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Dubai, UAE
    I think it's a matter of synchronisation and balance.

    There is undoubtedly a basic physical level that you cannot deny and this needs to be built and strengthened. There are also undoubtedly techniques that need to be learnt and reinforced. However, it's the synchronisation of both these in the right amounts at the right time that creates the right note with the right sound.

    I like the analogy, plagiarised I'm afraid, of the golfer. He/she needs to have the physical flexibility to swing the club, turn the body etc but it's all in the timing.

    Just my take on it.


  3. hagertheherald

    hagertheherald Pianissimo User

    Jan 26, 2008
    Cleveland Ohio
    To that, I would add a swimming analogy. After a good swim, my breath support is noticably much better, likewise after a good jog. Anything that gets air pressure and wind speed through the aperture faster with less fatigue is bound to consistently help your upper regester. That said, proper embouchre, posture, and practice routine all figure into the equation.
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I think that internet forums focus too much on single disciplines and not the BIG picture.

    If you have a PROPER DAILY ROUTINE that is about an hour long, you can build a solid, balanced EVERYTHING. That does not mean that you only play an hour per day, it means that you do what is necessary to properly develop your playing - essentially the SAME THING EVERY DAY for the rest of your life. As you develop, there will be some MINOR tweaking to the routine. After your routine is done, you add repertory, etudes and further exercizes to stretch the envelope!

    All of the intellectualizing of the playing process is a waste of time if you are not covering your bases. It is amazing how sloppily most players take care of their playing.

    Forget about aperature, wind speed and all of that stuff. Get a good teacher, get a REAL routine and your playing will become consistent, reliable and continue to improve.

    Great playing replaces muscles with brains. If you are fighting your body, you need a lot more strength than if you play intelligently.
  5. mazzrick

    mazzrick Pianissimo User

    Sep 16, 2005
    Berlin, Germany

    you've mentioned in the last few posts that i've read, obtaining a "real routine." i have quite a few that i've tried on and off over the last few years, but i was just wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing yours with us??


    great topic!! and actually this title is a perfect way of describing something that i've thought about a lot. i always looked at flexibility and range as a technique/air management issue... or as a matter of discovery and not so much as a strength issue. i think as long as you're not over using the chops and that you're allowing the air to access upper register and partial changes, strength become less important.

    regarding descending lines and slurs being harder than ascending, it's usually because the lower notes aren't centered. i know i tend to overshoot notes when i slur down to them. check the pitch centers and really listen to where the note sits at the beginning of it. you should be able to diagnose the problem from that.

  6. hagertheherald

    hagertheherald Pianissimo User

    Jan 26, 2008
    Cleveland Ohio
    My extremely learned colleague in Deutschland makes an important point, with which I most heartily agree, especially given the art of solely playing the trumpet alone. Proper embouchre, posture, and practice routine with a qualified teacher are most assuredly stepping stones one cannot and should not ignore.

    Playing trumpet and steppin' for a four hour gig (which is my own thing) while hitting notes above the staff (most of the time with appropriate gusto) is perhaps a different thing, equal parts entertainer/musician. Of course, I have had the basics covered as a young man, which many are who write in these posts. :>)

    The notes about aperture and wind speed, etc.... are all borrowed from John Lynch, and are simply amplified and echoed here from my unique experience. Herr Rowuk is most assuredly correct in recommending a good teacher and proper practice routine, for without these, no amount of athleticism will be of any use.--HH

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