Can I Diagnose it as Throat Tension?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by john7401, Mar 28, 2010.

  1. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    - Other people tend to notice and I notice that my vains come out for the longer I play with one breath and when I play higher. As I work my way up a chromatic scale you can see them come out more and more.

    - I feel like I blowing out tons of air trying to play high notes, but they are weak and barely come out. It feels like my throat is causing the pressure to back up before it comes out. I feel confident that my lips are staying relaxed and not pinching off the high notes though.

    - After a two day break from my daily range slurs and trumpet playing overall I come back to do my range excercise (which i believe i have diligently practiced at least 2 month straight) and focus TREMENDOUSLY on getting my self to relax and really trying to get my throat open for this one excercise and I hit a solid FF C above the staff for the first time when it was hard to get around to a B flat previous times. I never came close to reproducing what I achieved that once through the rest of the practice but also didnt focus on relaxing nearly as much for the other things I worked on.

    (*)- I have an inability to play louder when I go higher. I learned this from brass band where I need to do things like a FF-FFF on a F to the C on the top of/above the staff. I can still play things like a Forte G (top of staff) most of the time but it can't get to the extreme's of my lower notes that I need for Brass Band music. This seems to get progressively worse the higher I go.

    - Sometimes I get somewhat dizzy from playing higher notes for a bit. (This one seems somewhat common among most players though.)

    What do you think and are there any other signs I can look for that could indicate this or something else is the problem?

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2010
  2. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    Stop overblowing the damn horn.

    You might try some other mouthpieces that are a better match.

    Stop overblowing the horn, too.

  3. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    I think you have answered your own question it is to relax and freely move the air through the horn. If I were in your position I would be looking for a good teacher to help me through the problem.
  4. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    The thing is though my private instructor and another good trombone player/former director of the All Star Brass Band I'm in now both keep trying to get me to use more air/push out my high notes (not from a pressure standpoint but blowing standpoint). The one that's not my instructor used to play trumpet and after working with me for a day told me that he had the same problem I did and that I just need to blow more air. He thought that I was thinking I was blowing alot of air but really wasnt and needed to just focus on blowing more to get the notes out. He also said the worst thing I could do is back off the air.

    As far as mouthpieces all I've ever tried for my trumpet is a Bach 7C and 5C but I still only have 4 and 1/2 years expirience. Do you still think I should be looking for something else?
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2010
  5. Jarrett

    Jarrett Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Richland, MO
    hmmm... I wouldn't contradict a teacher who's actually seen you play.

    I can say that it differs from my approach. I tend to follow the Claude Gordon (worth a look if your curious) approach a bit more. I hope you find someone to help you out!
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Generally the symptom that you describe means that you are playing with too much mouthpiece pressure on the top lip and choking the note off there. My students get taught about high range from the bottom up. As little pressure AS POSSIBLE and to let the sound just get smaller the higher that they go. Once they can slur it in a wimpy way, we work on making the sound fuller. NEVER do I have them FORCE a lot of air. Big breath, yes. Major tension, no.

    If your approach is decent, your sound just starts getting smaller but doesn't cut off. If your chops aren't up to the task, your range just stops at some specific note which may vary depending on the day. Most young players refer to this as being able to "hit" notes.

    Air is only part of the solution. The body learns to synchronize everything by proper dedicated practice. I use long tones and slurs. Most of my "beginner" students have a high C within 18 months. Some students that I get from other "teachers" have a much harder time breaking bad habits. It can take much longer. Getting force out of their routine is critical to the cause
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Time to toss the good 'ol Vulgano "RAY OF POWER" into the ring again, as well as the cheapo Alexander Technique:

    The finicky thing about air is that, yeah, we must learn the mechanics but then forget about them, because under the stress of performance, as tension sets in, our bodies will lie to us, and it will feel like we're moving huge amounts of air, breathing deeply and supporting when in fact, we are not!

    For this reason, I rely on some Vulgano Voodoo and the RAY OF POWER. It involves the Root Chakra, which is located directly at the base of the spine, also known as the coccyx. The chakras have their own mystic qualities, I guess. I don't know for sure, but they do seem to be located in parts of the body where bunches of nerves meet. (The Vulgano version is situated half way between the places we do our number one and number two in the restroom.)

    In practice and in theory, imagine (and feel) a ray of some sort (red is the most common mystic color associated with the root chakra) shooting down into the ground while playing. For high notes, imagine (and feel) a more intense ray. If we practice this sitting in a chair, we can notice all kinds of muscles come into play, which happen to be the same muscles used to "support" the air stream. By taking attention off of the mechanics and experiencing the mysterious, magical and not yet patented RAY OF POWER we can avoid some of the tension involved in "trying hard."

    Nothing mysterious and magical here really, but the RAY OF POWER does permit me to play with a relaxed but working body.

    The cheapo Vulgano Alexander Technique involves making the body as long as possible--keep your head as far from the nether regions as you can.

    This combination allows us to play our butts off!

    Have fun!
    tedh1951 likes this.
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    VB has turned this into a pain in the butt instead of throat tension. I agree!
  9. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    When you last had a blood test, you were told tp clench your fist. Why? The answer is to increase your blood flow ... and if you looked you would have seen the veins on the back of your hand were more pronounced. Well, what you are doing is forcing more blood to the head and the veins of your neck are swelling. Yeah, do it prolonged and you may feel dizzy. Long term ... overloading those blood vessels and the consequences may be devastating ... especially among aging comebackers. Discuss such with your own cardio-vascular specialist.
  10. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    John sez:
    I feel like I blowing out tons of air trying to play high notes, but they are weak and barely come out. It feels like my throat is causing the pressure to back up before it comes out. I feel confident that my lips are staying relaxed and not pinching off the high notes though.
    Why are you blowing so hard?
    Do this:
    Watch youtubes of Alison Balsom, Raphael Mendez, and Clark Terry. Pay particular attention to their faces. All of that beautiful sound coming out of their horns but their faces look calm. You don't hear a blatty forced air sound reminicent of a trailer truck do you? Only use enough to get the job done. The most beautiful sound of the trumpet can be found when it's played softly. Practice playing softly and work on how to use your air. How do you do that? Take a lengthy piece of music and play it softly. See how far you can play in one breath. Mark with a red pencil where you made it to and then each day try to play a little farther. Make sure you play soft and don't overblow.
    I would also suggest you read Mouthpiece Pressure Assessment and check and see if (along with overblowing) you're not using an over abundance of mouthpiece pressure. I'm guessing if you are creating all this tension with the air, it wouldn't be a stretch to suggest that some of that tension is manifesting itself in mouthpiece pressure.

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