Beginner Questions

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by snazzypadgett, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. snazzypadgett

    snazzypadgett New Friend

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    Oct 13, 2009
    I'll just cut to the chase!

    1) How often should I empty the spit valve? I am getting sort of compulsive about it, emptying it almost every minute, hahaha. But the thing is, it's always got a fair amount of spit in it. Is this because I'm a beginner? Will I use less spit for my notes as I develop better embouchure?

    2) Is it okay to oil my valves only when I feel them beginning to stick? So far that's been only once. My trumpet isn't worth a Strad, of course, so is it okay to not oil it every day I play like I've read in some places?

    3) Breathing question: What is the principle of 'stale air?' Should I empty out all of the air in my lungs before I inhale more? Or should I just breathe in more on top of what has already been in there? It's not like the breathing times are always perfectly in time with when I am completely out of breath. It just feels bad to inhale air when I still have air in me--I've been taught to exhale everything before inhaling in choir anyway.

    4) Tuning slide. How do I use it? I don't understand, because I don't understand where the 'center' of the open C is. I can bend it to almost an A under the C, and can only go just barely sharp over the C. Should I move the slide so that I can bend equally in both directions from the C? With the slide all the way in, it still is much easier to be under the pitch than over.

    Thanks everyone!
     
  2. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    493
    4
    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    1) empty the spit valve before you need to -- if you get the gurgling sound in your trumpet tone you've waited too long. There is no set time period for how frequently you should empty it. Many players empty it whenever they end a song or whenever they get to a long rest (more than a beat or two) in the middle of a song. You can't empty it too often, unless you stop a phrase in the middle to empty it. It isn't all spit in the instrument -- lots of it is simply condensation when the moisture in the warm air you are blowing into the instrument meets the cooler metal. In the cooler months you will get more than in the warmer months. No two people produce the same amount of spit. Some people produce lots, even after they have become quite good and others produce very little.

    2) With today's oils you can wait longer before oiling. When I started out all the valve oil was basically a kerosene derivative and when it dried out the valves became quite sluggish. With the synthetics and additives, such as is in the Denis Wick valve oil, even when the valves feel dry to the touch they still move quite easily. If you play with totally dry valves very much you can do damage to the trumpet, so a great rule of thumb is to oil your valves before you start playing every day and you'll never have to worry.

    3) Stale air is air which is still in your lungs but which is mostly CO2 and doesn't contain any oxygen anymore. So even if your lungs are full your body feels like it's suffocating. The concept of breathing properly should show you that you want to have expelled most of the air (stale or good) from your lungs at the end of the phrase so that when you inhale you're getting a lungful of good usable air. so for many phrases, the breath you take shouldn't be a full breath, but one just barely large enough to allow you to play the phrase and then need a new breath at the proper breathing place. Most of the time you shouldn't inhale good air on top of a lungful of bad air because trying to use bad air will make your body tired and unable to perform properly.

    4) you should get an electronic tuner and move the slide until when you play a note, it is in tune properly within the first second of playing it. If it isn't in tune by then, forget it and adjust the slide. It's always easier to play very flat than to play very sharp, because in order to play sharp your lips need to vibrate faster, which often makes us hop up one partial to the next note higher with the same valve combination. Especially on the lower notes, there's greater distance between one note and the next one lower with the same valve combination than there is between that same note and the next one higher with the same valve combination. It's also easier to get your lips to relax than to get them tighter and vibrating faster, which is usually done not by tightening your lips but by increasing the air speed which is blowing through them.
     
  3. simonstl

    simonstl Pianissimo User

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    Nov 25, 2008
    Dryden/Ithaca, NY
    On #1, I found that I produced a lot of spit when getting started, perhaps because my mouth didn't quite understand what I was up to. That volume declined as I played more.

    On #2, I oil frequently. I definitely oil when I feel stickiness, but if I feel stickiness on any valve I oil them all. If it feels like it's been too long, I go ahead and oil even if it isn't sticky. (I have an old trumpet that's had stickiness problems in the past, so maybe I'm paranoid.)

    #3, stale air, seems to get different responses from different trumpeters, and I can't explain what I do anyway - probably because I don't yet have enough discipline.

    And definitely get an electronic tuner. They're cheap, easy to use, and fun to play around with. Most important, they'll help you know when you're hitting the right pitch.
     
  4. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    1) I've been playing for over 4 decades and I still use the water key alot, even checking when there is no spit in it. I hate it when I'm playing and I get "the gurgle" in my sound.

    2) When I need to oil my valves is a signal (for me) that my horn needs a bath.

    3) There's a lot of debate on this. Here's my twist. For some reason, I can remember back in grade school some teacher saying that some of the air in our lungs can be months old and stale. While I have no data to support the "stale air" claim, everyday I exhale (squeeze ) as much of the air out of my lungs as possible and I also practice holding my breath everyday.

    4) I don't like tuners. This is again, a much debated topic. If your use of the word "center" means "how do I know when I'm in tune" then I think I can help you out.
    Get with another instrument and play a note in unison. Now, listen deeply and you will hear "beats" in the sound. You want to play together with no beats in the sound.
    As for the tuning slide, temperature and whether or not you are using a mute can play a significant roll in where the tuning slide goes. As for me, generally my tuning slide is about a 1/2 inch out.
    Hope this helps
     
  5. snazzypadgett

    snazzypadgett New Friend

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    Oct 13, 2009
    Thanks for the answers everyone!

    The only thing I'm left wondering is about the tuning slide. I know how to tune, I just don't know why there's an adjustable tuning slide. Whether it's all the way in or sticking very far out, it's still possible to hit the right C tuning, but I just have to stick my chin out more or something. I gues what I'm asking is, is there a proper embouchure position to use when going for the right note? It seems to variable
     
  6. simonstl

    simonstl Pianissimo User

    129
    2
    Nov 25, 2008
    Dryden/Ithaca, NY
    You definitely need the tuning slide if you're playing a cold trumpet - temperature changes the pitch. It's also helpful if you're trying to tune up with someone else. Neither of you may end up on perfect pitch, but as long as you're in the same place, it's okay.
     
  7. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

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    Oct 16, 2008
    I think the goal is to have the horn tuned (slide adjusted) so that you have to make as few "manual" adjustments with your lip to get to the center of a pitch. Maybe not such a big deal on whole notes and half notes, but on shorter notes you don't have as much adjustment time.

    Also, the further off of pitch center you tune your horn, the more work and effort you're putting on your chops to compensate.
     
  8. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    493
    4
    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    It's adjustable so that you can tune to different pitched instruments (most notably pianos which are below pitch because of their age or violins which frequently tune to A442 or A444).

    Set the slide to where the instrument is in tune without you having to make any embouchure adjustments -- you should be able to play without having to lip it to be in tune.

    It's not about what you *can* do intonation-wise, it's about setting the horn so that you play in the "sweet spot" and with very little effort on your part you get great tone and play in tune.
     
  9. snazzypadgett

    snazzypadgett New Friend

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    Oct 13, 2009
    ohhh okay, I see. Okay well typically when I just get an easy buzz, it's quite flat. Even with the tuning slide in all the way. Is that my fault or the trumpet's?
     
  10. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

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    Oct 16, 2008

    Probably a little bit of both. Don't sweat it too much at this point...
     

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