Bottoming out?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by mystrumpet, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. mystrumpet

    mystrumpet Piano User

    Nov 25, 2007
    Twin Cities, Minnesota
    Hi everyone,

    For the past month and a half, I have had the worst time practicing. I'm very bad at explaining what is happening, so bear with me.

    The problem(s): my upper register is very inconsistent. A month ago I was able to have a strong high Eb/E, now it is a very weak high C or even less.

    Secondly, I can't tongue on any intervals above E above C on the staff. That is also very unusual, because I was able to tongue a C to high C fairly easily. Now the high C won't even come out.

    I have a feeling that my lips are getting into the cup and bottoming out. It almost sounds like a pic. trumpet when it happens.

    Anybody have any advice on what is happening?

  2. kadleck

    kadleck Artist in Residence Staff Member

    Feb 28, 2006
    new york
    Dan -

    Have you changed anything about your practice routine or frequency of playing? Sometimes if I am playing a lot then take a few days off when I return to playing it can feel strange like that.

  3. Bloomin Untidy Musician

    Bloomin Untidy Musician Piano User

    Jan 14, 2008
    Scarey stuff mystrumpet!

    A post similar to yours was discussed recently. I think it could one of several things.
    Mental; sometimes after a period of playing well, our confidence can be hit by a couple of bad gigs. In my experience it can encourage a vicious circle of trying harder, creating tension and causing a whole of host of breathing, tongue, coordination and confidence issues.

    Not keeping on top of the fundamentals during practise sessions. I find that if i am lazy with long note, and articulation practise there is a noticeable deterioration in my playing.

    Has your practise sessions changed since your solid playing days?


  4. bigtiny

    bigtiny Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2005
    The first thing I do when I start experiencing these kinds of problems is to take some time off. See a movie, go to dinner, whatever, just take a day or two off. I've found that sometimes in my enthusiasm to become a better player, I end up exhausting myself both physically and mentally. The physical exhaustion can range from causing the muscles in the embochure to behave erratically to affecting the coordination of my breathing. The mental fatigue can cause general sloppiness and allow bad habits to form. So, before intensely deconstructing your embochure and playing....just rest a little and get out of the practice studio for a while.

  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006

    first of all, do you have a DAILY ROUTINE? What does it look like?

    Mine consists of long tones with the mouthpiece, then with the trumpet (10 minutes). Then comes some easy lip slurs then some tougher ones (about 20 minutes). All of this without using the tongue.

    Regardless of what has ever happened in my life, that routine has been a common denominator that has worked and allowed me to figure out what on top of that was not working.

    If you do NOT have a daily routine, all we can do is guesstimate.

    You claim a strong Eb/E. If that was achieved the right way, the higher notes should also have been there, just weaker. If force was your recipe, your range pretty much just stops somewhere.

    You say that you cannot articulate up high. That fits with my assumption that you forced your high notes and did not earn them. If your breath support will really sustain the note, only a small amount of tonguing is needed to articulate. When using FORCE, the articulation also becomes forceful, just to get the lips to start vibrating!

    The final clue about your playing is the inconsistent high range. That can also be a symptom of too much force and your chops just giving up!

    There is no quick fix if your playing is this screwed up. You need to pay attention to the basics and get them cleaned up before worrying about range and articulation. Breathing exercizes, soft, long tones and easy, soft slurs without tonguing would be my recipe for at least the next couple of weeks. Basically ANTI force and boring as hell, but we didn't mess your chops up! Play only from low F# to max G on top of the staff. Try and get that really focussed and clean at pianissimo.


    Make sure that you take a big breath and then just exhale (no force) into the horn. If you are doing everything right, your sound will start right away - even without tonguing. Keep this up for a couple of weeks and then come back and post us how it worked out and if you noticed anything!
  6. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

    Nov 16, 2005
    Vidin, Bulgaria
    Well, I will chime in here as well. Rowuk gives you some excellent suggestion. What I will add to them is this:

    If you want to find out wether you use excessive pressure in the high register you can:

    1. Use breath attacs, which is playing the notes without using the tongue.
    2. Playing everything with flutter tongueing.

    You won't be able to play the notes with the above articulations if you are pressing the metal too hard to your lips.
  7. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Hey Dan.....

    Ask the guy in your avatar!

    He is easy to speak with....of course you KNOW that!

  8. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Some times it`s a lazy lower jaw, try lightly pushing it forward to meet the mouthpiece to even the contact point on both lips.
  9. mystrumpet

    mystrumpet Piano User

    Nov 25, 2007
    Twin Cities, Minnesota
    Chuck: being on vacation, I didn't bring his phone. I emailed him 4 days ago, still waiting for an answer.

    In the month that I started to notice the problem,I had a solid practice routine. buzzing mouthpiece for 5-7 minutes, lone tones for 10-15 minutes, lip slurs for 10-15 minutes, then on to some easier excerpts and solos, technical studies, followed by a short warmdown.

    I think I remember the 1st day it happened to me. The day before I had a 1 1/2 hour lesson, and was pretty tired. An hour later, I got together with one of my buddies and we played some tough orchestral excerpts that I most likely used a lot more pressure than normal. If any of you remember my thread about "grunting", that was a problem that I had fixed. It seemed to come back in that time of playing. It doesn't happen anymore, just that 1/2 hour of playing.

    Nick, thanks for those two testers. I'll be sure and try those out today.

    Rowuk, once again you amaze me at your incredible skills at explaining things. That was a real help.
    I'll let you all know how this goes in he next couple of weeks.

  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    give Manny my best. His is the model that I try and uphold here. straightforward, no B.S., proved over time, no experiments.

Share This Page