Body Resistance. What is it and What Cures it?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Sethoflagos, Mar 8, 2015.

  1. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    I'm sure it was my lousy description, but I don't feel anybody really caught onto what I was trying to discuss with the original posting. However, I'm a few days into two weeks leave, had plenty of time for focused practice, and some fairly significant things have happened which I hope will help explain.

    What is body resistance? Still not sure, other than a feeling that it's taking too much effort to strike and hold a note.

    What cures it? Probably a bunch of 'good' things done over a period of time, but I feel that the real breakthrough has been catalysed by working on clean double-tonguing for hour after hour after hour for months. In the last few weeks, this has concentrated on double-tongued scales.

    Monday (or was it Tuesday?) morning started badly. I'd been out fishing over the weekend and I could hardly blow a note. Tried lip massage, and a dab of cocoa butter flavoured vaseline to try and get some buzz going. Played about 5 minutes an hour for the rest of the morning. Mid-afternoon, a load of stuff suddenly fell into place. Still there the next day but even better. And so on until today where I am, let us say a very happy bunny.

    The changes:

    Good full core sound has jumped from mid-stave to top of stave.
    Lung pressure needed for a given pitch has dropped significantly. The 'zero effort' zone has also moved to top of stave.
    High C has become a strong note that doesn't threaten to burst a blood vessel.
    Controlled double-tonguing speed has jumped from around semiquavers at 116 up to 132ish and now needs some effort to stop zipping off to 160+.
    Comfortable double-tonging range has gone from an octave (D to D) to low A to top of stave G.
    Regained a feeling of leaning into the resistance of the instrument (instead of against my own) and a much closer bonding with the instruments' resonance characteristics.

    As I said in earlier postings, some of this has been floating in and out of my practice sessions for a good few months, but this week has felt like a real breakthrough in overcoming body resistance. Whatever it is. Yes. Happy bunny :-)
     
  2. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    I have 3 thoughts that may help:

    1. Try "smiling" less from the side muscles of the jaw (the typical smile used for buzzing); rather use your muscles more in your cheeks that insert into the zygomatic arch (bone ridge below the eye sockets). This causes a more "social smile" as we would smile as we great a long lost friend. This opens the embouchure more, uses more muscle (so gives more strength to the embouchure move) and will increase air flow.

    2. Another "trick" that Dr.Mark seems to like (which essentially does the same thing I recommend above) is to have you visualize a horizontal line across the center of your embouchure. Then visualize a vertical line that cross sections the horizontal line in the middle - or like the cross hairs on a rifle site. Ready, aim, fire through that embouchure baby!
     
  3. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    3. Sometimes optimizing the gap between mouthpiece and horn does the trick to enhance the resonance of the standing wave, providing more amplitude therefore enhanced sound projection. I am wondering if you have a different mouthpiece/horn combination now than you did in your youth. Perhaps the connection between equipment in your younger years may have been more energy efficient.
     
  4. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    Bit late now, Gary, the issue seems to have gone away of it's own accord :D. Though praise where praise is due, your thoughts posted on this subject on the past certainly influenced my approach to working towards a solution. Many thanks.

    When you explained this a while ago, I immediately got a mental image of one of those Olmec face masks

    [​IMG]

    Actually, my lip formation isn't far off this. Maybe more of a cupid's bow which I think may make a central aperture more difficult. I play a little left of centre where there is a natural arch to the upper lip. I think your zygomatic lift plays a role in my control of this, but due to the off-centre mouthpiece position, it's biased to one side.

    Doesn't this show that there's never one single solution that works for everybody? Everyone is differently constructed and must find their own individual road to success. Glad I won't have to think too much about this in the future. Not too much. :-)
     
  5. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Yep. As individuals we all respond individually.
     
  6. Tomaso

    Tomaso Pianissimo User

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    Sethflagos said: "It's just that some weeks everything feels really stuffy and other weeks everything (doesn't matter which instrument or mouthpiece) feels a whole lot more open."

    This sounds to me like plain old chops fatigue, to which a lot of mysterious symptoms can be traced after exhausting all the esoteric causes.
    I'm guessing that you are laying into it more heavily some weeks without noticing that you are pushing yourself, causing a slow build-up of fatigue which manifests itself the way you describe.

    T/
     
  7. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    No, Tomaso. I've been playing off and on for very nearly 50 years, and can recognise fatigue. After a crash and burn about 15 months ago, I've had to rebuild my embouchure from scratch. It's taken that long to retrain it to a new more orthodox position, a low pressure approach, and finally to get the aperture to open up properly. I've learnt the hard way not to try playing through fatigue.

    It would seem, since nobody else seems to recognise this issue, that it's probably something to do with my own individual makeup and the way I form an aperture in the first place.
     
  8. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds to me like you've just come out of a plateau. Often, towards the end, we will have a mix of "good" and "bad" days (weeks, moments) with the good times gaining in number relative to the bad times.
     
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    This thread has been with me for a while. I do post about body use, efficiency and a holistic approach where everything is connected to everything else.

    Basically, if we change anything, everything else becomes unpredictable UNTIL new habits are built. I believe in pressure equilibrium between the horn impedance and our exhale. Equilibrium is perhaps the wrong word as some air does flow, but too much air pressure simply blows our lips into the cup. The difference between our air pressure and the impedance of the horn must be compensated for by lip tension (or perhaps the tongue in the way). We can also limit air by being tense - for instance when the abs fight the diaphragm. I think that the issue is simply normal variation in our bodies state. Range going south after a shower was a clue offered. I think that you will discover with time, better range after the shower.
     
  10. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    Learning how to "manage" the tension is what we all do. We never get rid of it, we learn to manage it by using ways to reduce it but not to the point that nothing will come out of the horn. It takes X amount of effort to get X amount of sound. How do you reduce the first X without screwing up the second X?
    One simple thing is air. Make sure you are not putting fresh air on top of stale air. Dump your lungs of excess air before taking in fresh air.
    How to do this:
    1.Go through and put in breath marks.
    2.Dump the lungs by playing until all the air is gone and a full but relaxed breath can be taken or dump the lungs during a rest.
    Hope this helps.
    Dr.Mark
     

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