Blasting Issues

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Rainiac, Sep 13, 2010.

  1. Rainiac

    Rainiac New Friend

    Apr 2, 2009
    Earth. For sure.
    Hey Everybody :)

    I'm having a lot of trouble in band class at school not blasting. My band director says that I've come to the point where I have enough air behind the notes, but that now I need to control it. What sort of things should I practice to learn that control? Today I tried playing as high as I could, but quietly. I have no idea if that works. My high notes seemed very fuzzy.

    Also, I'm getting a little discouraged. I practiced at least an hour a day all summer, and I think it was good practice, but all of the other trumpet players are still much better than I am. I'm confident that none of them picked up their horns over the summer. What's with that?

  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    A great exercise for learning control is to practice what my professor, Gerald Webster called "Ghost Tones." Take a note (say, for example, g in the staff) and without tonguing, play it so softly that the sound really doesn't leave the bell--it will get trapped inside and not project.

    This is really hard to do!

    To learn the feeling, practice decrescendos with the sound going down to nothing. If the note stops, keep trying until you get it down to next to nothing. When you get this down, try the original exercise.

    Not to worry--soft playing requires more embouchure strength than playing loudly.

    Have fun!
  3. Rainiac

    Rainiac New Friend

    Apr 2, 2009
    Earth. For sure.
    Thanks Vulgano Brother! In the morning I'll definitely try that. I get the feeling that that is one of those exercises requiring a lot of patience. Sweet deal :)
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    You know, your problem is not control of your air, it is lack of respect for the music. There is no physical sickness that causes "blast" to be the only option. How loudly that you play is NEVER something that we have no control over. This is no different than saying I can only ride my bike at full speed.

    The solution is just to back off and stop being annoying. A better sense for music is gained by playing more tunes. Grab a Hymnbook. There are over 700 tunes with verses that give you an indication how the notes are to be played from Power and Glory all the way to Death and Transfiguration.

    NEVER underestimate YOUR power of choice. We ALWAYS are responsible for all of our actions.
    Alex_C likes this.
  5. keehun

    keehun Piano User

    Feb 4, 2010
    I can see where you are going with this, but how can you be sure that this guy hasn't been taught or the practice of controlling dynamics? Surely it's a concept that needs to be taught?

    Like a 5th grader starting out on the trumpet isn't going to have the full range of dynamics. He or she will know when to push the air and when to not push the air (play or stop)... I'm not saying that the OP is an inexperienced 5th grader starting out, but maybe he's just never been taught...

    But... the exercise Vulcano Brother suggested seems to be a great start...

    Keep us posted!!
  6. wolfmann

    wolfmann Pianissimo User

    Aug 19, 2010
    Just to ask a question here:
    When you start to blast, does some air escape from the side of your lips?
    If so you might be having a problem centering your airstream.
    A mental exercise:
    Think of your airstream as a laser,that laser has to shoot perfect into the MP.
    Now you work on control of your TONE.
    Eventually you will learn volume and tone control equally.
  7. jbkirby

    jbkirby Forte User

    Sep 10, 2009
    Dothan, Alabama
    I jump back to rowuk's comments with an AMEN and add something that worked and still works for me, and that is playing with the music and allowing the horn to become my voice, as though it is a part of me. You are never too young or too old to think this way. If you think this way, you become a part of the music, not a competitor with it. I knew trumpeters in school that never figured this out and played their horns with a very mechanical sound, pressing the valves and blowing the notes, but with no feeling. As Yoda said about the force, let the music flow through you!
  8. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Hi Rainiac,
    The trumpet has two distinct personalities:
    1) "Calling"
    A device for communication at a distance. For example the military uses the bugle to "call" the troops to meal or when the bugle plays charge its a call to say "here we come!".
    The trumpet has been used for this purpose for thousands of years and continues to this day.
    While I can't support this, I feel most trumpet players (that eventually become good) go through the "call phase" of trumpet playing. Its akin to using the trumpet as a musical weapon.
    Its during this musical adolecence we are the loudest, wanna play the highest, wanna be the shiniest and basically yearn to crush all lesser instruments (which is anything other than the trumpet).
    2) "Singing"
    Making sounds with the trumpet that's pleasing. This is where the person realizes that the sound of the trumpet is actually a sensitive sensual sound that can be easily drown out by the raspiness of a sax, electric guitar or electric keyboards. Its warm, beautiful. and fragile. Not brutish, blatty or loud.
    Once a person gets to the singing portion of their development, they can go from "calling" to "singing" at will.
    Hope this helps. Just try to blend more with others around you. Don't play so loud that YOU are the only one YOU can hear. You have to be able to hear yourself and the others to be really successful. Now that you know the difference, you'll get the hang of it.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2010
  9. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    I totally agree. Ghost notes are hard!!
    However, once you get them down, they are cool as heck! I use them alot on Miles tunes and whenever I want to create an exciting rhythm with my sound. You can even play a a few bars in the wrong key or go chromatic and if you use the ghost notes to establish a good groove, the wrong notes don't matter as long as the musical statement is resolved. It all goes back to the rhythm.
  10. Ric232

    Ric232 Pianissimo User

    Apr 30, 2009
    Coastal GA
    I hear this a lot, but then why do our chops wear out more quickly from playing loudly?

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