Delayed attack

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by valejazz, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. valejazz

    valejazz New Friend

    Dec 11, 2005
    Roma - Italia
    Delayed attack is my lifelong problem since I started playing.

    Sometimes gets better, but it's always around and now that my new teacher has started a kind of assault to solve it, it's getting worst the more I think of it.

    I'll try to explain: as the mp touches my lips the throat (glottis I think) closes..I can use any kind of attack, I can breath a lot or at the last time, my tongue gets stiff against the teeth as to force the air out.

    My first teacher said that I am too much tongue conscious and I have to place more attention on air, so I tried air attack. But if I make one with no mouthpiece on my lips it's ok, the moment the mp is on I feel there's too much tension on the corner, at the bottom of tongue etc...

    When I play in big band, quintet or combos the problem eases except when I have to play short detached notes in sequence, it's like opening and closing throat any note I play.

    When I study or play solo trumpet pieces it's very noticeable, ruins my good tone and phrasing, makes playing unpleasant for me..

    Well...any help from you fellow trumpeters?

  2. Stile442

    Stile442 Piano User

    Mar 26, 2007
    Deland Fl
    I used to have the same problem. Mine was a symptom of my stutter I think though. I would see a short attack coming up and my throat would lock-up. It happened more often at the beginning of a piece for me than anything else. I fixed it by taking the stress out of the attack. What I mean is that I would take the first note of the phrase and just play it like a long tone until my throat eased up and then I would continue with the phrase. Then I would slowly play that first note shorter and shorter until I got it back to the way it was written. By that time the attack no longer gave me problems. After doing this for awhile with any trouble spots the problem went away.

    Not sure if this is the proper method for fixing this problem, but it worked for me. I'm sure other people will chime in as well.

    Hope it helps. :-)
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Two thing I can think of.
    1. As humans, our tongue is most involved in talking and eating -- (Italians excel at both!) and so it is "normal" for the jaw and throat to move (like in swallowing, for example. Away from the horn, look in a mirror and practice saying "tititititititit" without any visible movement.
    2. With the horn, instead of thinking "attack," think "release." Rather than concentrate on the forward motion of the tongue, concentrate on the tongue motion as it comes back.
    There are tons of different approaches -- try these, and if they help, great, if not, listen to our other friends here at TM.

    Have fun!
  4. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    This has been the most vexing part of playing the trumpet for many years for me. Only in the last few months have I been able to really make any progress. Hopefully you're not as far gone as me!

    DISCLAIMER!! I've never seen you play...this could be the best or worst advice ever...I take no responsiblity if you can't play at all after reading this!

    The only way that I've had any success this: (keep in mind that I'm working with a very qualified teacher who has worked with lots of trumpet players who have gotten a little screwed up)

    1 - Don't worry about the new attack sounding good at first, it probably won't!
    2 - Count IN TIME four beats, breathe on 4 and play on 1, without any hesitation of locking of the throat. Just breathe and blow, the timing of the tongue, air and chops is the only goal.
    3 - Do it in different registers and don't overdo it.
    4 - Just accept whatever you get, good or bad. It'll get better!

    Eventually, your body will find the coordination and it will learn to sound good doing it, but it might not happen right away.

    This seems sort of in conflict with the idea of always putting the musical goal first first, but it really isn't, in my opinion. You still have the same concept of sound, phrasing, etc. as you always did, but you may have to let your chops relearn how to sound good without that lock in the attack.

    Again, you probably aren't as messed up as I was, so it might be an faster fix for you, or this might be meaningless to which case see the above disclaimer! Sorry for the long winded reply...hope it helps...

    Last edited: Apr 12, 2007
  5. RG111

    RG111 Piano User

    Nov 12, 2003
    It might help to do breath attacks, and then add the tongue. Good luck with it!
  6. valejazz

    valejazz New Friend

    Dec 11, 2005
    Roma - Italia
    I read all your replies and they are very helps to know that you are not alone with a problem and that others have managed to face it.

    I'll experiment your advices and thanks a lot for your help :)
  7. valejazz

    valejazz New Friend

    Dec 11, 2005
    Roma - Italia
    Thanks Jason!

    Points 1 and 4 are of special interest and in part remind me of things read on Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner

    Accepting limits and taking time to work on them is the best approach to get better...
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The problem is that we are creatures of habit and all those BAD habits will haunt us. Quitting choking is as hard as quitting smoking! Patience and dedication are required!

    I don't think that I EVER had a student without this problem. We have always cured it in the same way: Think of breathing as a big circle - inhale from bottom to top, exhale from top to bottom. In a circle you have NO corners, your breathing transition from in to exhale should also be without corners.
    Practice breathing deeply without the horn. Stand up straight, feet parallel and about shoulders width apart. Put your hand on top of your head and straighten your neck out to "push" against the hand. Your head should stay in this position for all of these exercizes!
    Always exhale completely first, inhale deeply then exhale, inhale, exhale - several repetitions! Do this "in- and exhaling through the mouth" AND "inhale through the nose/exhale through the mouth". Do not gasp for air or try to speed the process up - you want a circle, not an ellipse. Keep practicing this until you are comfortable with it (could take 30-45 minutes!)

    Once you have a feel for the circle, replace exhale with play. NO TONGUE!!!!!!!!! This will take a while until the coordination is optimal. Just use long tones - inhale-play-inhale-play....... I avoid the word breath attack, because you just need to let the air flow into the horn-there is no attack with a circle! Spend at least a week without using the tongue!!!

    Once this works you add the tongue. Tonguing must be with short swift movements to keep the tongue out of the way. the first couple pages of Arban are good for this!
    Consider this "basic training". You should make relaxed breathing a part of your daily routine. When you start choking - get back to the basics - a circle - the most perfect shape in the universe!
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2007
  9. Tom Mac

    Tom Mac Pianissimo User

    Mar 11, 2007
    Nashville Tennessee
    I have used a very similar exercise personally and w/ students but with quality of tone as the goal.

    I set the Metronome on 120 (equaling an 8th note in 4/4). Breath on the and of four and start the tone (2nd line g) w/o a tongue on one. Make the note as short as possible and as full as possible. This makes breathing in and out almost one event.

    My objective was different in that I postulated that any trumpeter could produce a full ochestral sound on an 8th note g. I have had good results with this method for tone production. Since it requires a sound approach to tone production it may work with the problem of delayed attack. Only apply the tongue when you are sure of an open sound every time.

    Warning: this method of practice should not result in fatigue. If you continue for more than a half hour you could incur police interference that may result in a $250 fine.

    T. Mac
  10. valejazz

    valejazz New Friend

    Dec 11, 2005
    Roma - Italia
    Great advice....your circle image and Vulgano's release instead of attack are exactly what I need to work on...

    Thanks again!

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