Bad days

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by songbook, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. songbook

    songbook Piano User

    Apr 25, 2010
    Lately I seem to be having too many bad days. I'm 67 and although I've never been a high note player, I have managed to play my Dixieland music quite well. My lips feel puffy, and I seem to need more air for my notes. My comfortable range has always been an A just above the staff, but now that's a struggle. Long note warmups seem to make matters worse. Is it a case of age catching up with me? Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
  2. edfitzvb

    edfitzvb Forte User

    Jun 10, 2008
    Woodlawn, VA
    I would schedule a checkup with a doctor. Trumpet playing is not THAT physical. See if there is anything organic that needs to be addressed.
  3. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    +1 on what Ed said, particularly a pulmonary specialist. I've COPD and C3 still remains in my reach on a regular Bb trumpet or cornet. Too, I'll be 77 before June of this year. Higher and I'll uncase my picc.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  4. trumpetup

    trumpetup Piano User

    Jan 12, 2009
    Godley, Texas
    Doc Severinsen plays high notes at a ripe old age, so it can be done. But then again Nolan Ryan could strike out major league hitters while in his 40's. Not everyone can do it at an older age. I don't think 67 is too old to do it. I hope not, I’m 58. Dixieland music is very demanding. Maybe you need to take a break to rest up. Maybe your warm up routine will have to be shortened, less tiring, or spread out. Lips swelling are usually from too much mouthpiece pressure. I know if I think in my mind I’m going to miss a high note I tense up and use too much pressure.
    Good Luck,
  5. songbook

    songbook Piano User

    Apr 25, 2010
    Bobby you could be right. I find I am forcing things lately. Using too much mouthpiece pressure has always been my downfall. Funny thing is I do play a lot better at night jobs. Morning rehearsal is a different story.Thanks for your input.
  6. johnande

    johnande Pianissimo User

    Jun 3, 2009
    western Wyoming
    Unfortunately, for all of us, aging has a negative effect on pulmonary function. At the risk of over-simplifying typical age related changes in lung function which we can all look forward to, the following can be documented in medical and physiological literature: 1) strength of respiratory muscles declines, resulting in a reduction in the rate of airflow into and out of the lungs; 2) there is a decrease in the lung tissue (aloveoli) where gas exchange takes place, resulting in a decrease in diffusion rate of gases into/out of the lungs; 3) the maximum amount of air that can be inspired is reduced due to reduced lung elasticity; 4) the total lung volume decreases for the same reason; 5) the “dead space” or volume of air that is not actively involve in gas exchange increases. Bottom line is that, even in a healthy individual, lung function decreases with age and negatively affects trumpet players, particularly in long sustained passages, taking fast breaths, and in breath control necessary to play in higher registers.

    These effects begin to take place at about age 20 and slowly manifest themselves slowly over the years and will vary in magnitude and rate of change from one individual to another. As mentioned previously, there are many great trumpet players such as Severinsen who continue to play after age 80. I would like to think that playing a trumpet might slow the process down somewhat.

    Generalizations have been taken from several sources, including the Journal of Applied Physiology. As mentioned above by previous posters, COPD or other pulmonary medical conditions should be considered before assuming that changes are age related.

    Re: chops – aging also causes a decrease of elastin in all skeletal muscles, including those of the embouchure, causing them to become less pliable more difficult to vibrate (buzz), which particularly affects the upper ranges.

    Although I continue to play and I also continue to maintain a strenuous conditioning program, at age 77, I have reached a point where these effects are quite noticeable.
  7. songbook

    songbook Piano User

    Apr 25, 2010
    Johnande, thank you for all your research information. May you have many more years of playing enjoyment.
  8. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    Puffy lip problems in the morning can be helped by not eating salty foods the day/night before, drinking plenty of water, and getting up early enough so the morning swelling has a chance to go away before you play.
  9. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    While it would be smart to follow the other advice here first, if the problem does seem to be age, you might want to look for a horn change that might make things easier on yourself. While there are many things that affect "blow" other than bore, I have found that the older King Liberties - small bore- are really easy and fun to play. After getting checked out physically, you might want to try a few other horns.
  10. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio

    You could be over doing it on the playing. My recommendation is to cut your practice routine down by 25-50% for a week, then see if you still have that puffy feeling... If you don't, then boy do I have a great therapy plan for you... AND I save you on having to pay a doctor's bill... That's the service we provide here at TM... So give this a try and report back in a week.

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