Endurance and lip swelling

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by jnepper, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. jnepper

    jnepper New Friend

    Apr 16, 2009
    I have struggled with endurance for a long time. I can usually last about a half an hour and even that is a struggle. My lips often swell up making it nearly impossible to play past the half hour mark. I work very hard to use as little pressure as possible and I feel that my embouchure is solid. I don't have a lot of time to practice but I struggled with endurance even when I was called on to play several hours a day in college. Any suggestions?
  2. Bachstul

    Bachstul Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 25, 2009
    Your aperture may be too loose, firm up the chops.
    Too loose, you're blowing way too much air. Excess vibration buzz might cause swelling.
    Your mouthpiece may be,..... not too big, .....but too deep.

    The next guy that posts will tell you everything I said is wrong, so, what works for some might not work for others. I say listen to everybody, go with what works.

    The day that you were called to play several hours in college (I'm impressed!) was a day you had great endurance. We are not hydraulic log-splitters, y'know.

    There are many exercise books that have endurance practice charts in them. They are pages long and consist of mostly long tones Andante. The exercise usually takes twenty minutes not including a ten minute break in the middle, followed by a few two minute breaks as you continue home.

    Welcome to TM, jnepper
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2009
  3. sunnydaze

    sunnydaze New Friend

    Apr 11, 2009
    Ancaster, Ontario
    I find playing long tones in your practice session works wonders for your endurance. You could work long tones with any scale you wish, going up and down the scale or playing around with different patterns. Try holding the notes for 5 to 8 beats with a tempo around 52 - 60. Make the notes nice, full and even, playing them relatively loudly without overblowing. If you really want to work your chops, throw in nice long crescendos and decrescendos on the notes.

    You'll curse long tones at first but they will help with endurance!

    If anyone has any corrections to my advice that would be awesome. I'm not trumpet teacher, I'm just giving my own practice tips. If anyone has any other suggestions that would be great!
  4. Dave Mickley

    Dave Mickley Forte User

    Nov 11, 2005
    I agree with sunnydaze - long tones work, also take your your pinky out of the octive key. I find that when I start using a lot of pressure [ I'm the dreaded pressure player] if I stop using the pinky hook for a while I back off on the mouth piece pressure. just an old man's opinion.
  5. tunefultrumpet

    tunefultrumpet Pianissimo User

    Apr 9, 2008
    New Zealand
    Sometimes our lips can react to the "stresses" of playing a trumpet, even if we have good technique. I have played the trumpet for nearly 20 years and in recent months my lips have started to swell a little every time I play. I'm pretty sure nothing in my technique has changed but I figure something in my body has. To cope with this I have had to be pretty selective about the mouthpieces I play on. This can be a catch 22 because I want something on the small and shallow side to help my endurance but with enough room to cope with some lip swelling. I have found for me that the Bach 7EW works well, the wider, round rim seems to keep my lips out of the cup. As described by others long tones etc. will help but if I were you I would also experiment with some different mouthpieces to find something to help you. In the end its all about your enjoyment of playing the trumpet!
  6. RHSbigbluemarchingband

    RHSbigbluemarchingband Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 17, 2009
    okay at this point i can play for very long periods of time, no pain or lip swells. my tone normally starts going at seven hours. i dont know if i should be the one talking or not, and this is probably bad method, but i used to have a very short endurance period (30 minutes) and for band camp i knew i needed more. Everyday when i got tired id push over that limit 5 minutes and just play long tones. Every month id try to increase by 30 minutes, then slowly my endurance caught up. i dont believe my method is correct but it worked for me
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    if 30 minutes causes that much swelling, maybe you are simply practicing to forcefully. Take 2 weeks and practice ONLY pianissimo. Just the stuff that you presently play - nothing different yet. Play very quietly and relaxed, make no effort for dynamics. You should be able to double your time. After 2 weeks, post again with the results then I'll give you the next step.

  8. brem

    brem Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 13, 2007
    Quebec City, QC, Canada
    Rowuk: I have a similar problem, and I practice pianissimo. The thing is, if I play pianissimo, I can play for hours... it's when I play louder that it shunts...
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    the first step is the control and discipline that you have. Swollen lips are still "compressable" and that compression with muscle control is what lets you continue to keep playing.

    I always start with soft and easy, then come more complicated slurs (still soft). The slurs actually get the embouchure muscles, lip compression and tongue use synchronized. Once the "harder" slurs are playable softly and quickly, we gradually crank up the volume with them.

    I have never had a student where this didn't work. The great thing is once the motions are in sync, they seem to stick even during periods where we can't practice as much.

    If the lips bottom out in the mouthpiece, we have a reason to think about a bit deeper one - but only after the slurs have tightened our face up a bit!

    My slur routines come from Earl Irons book.
  10. jnepper

    jnepper New Friend

    Apr 16, 2009
    I tried the pianissimo playing today. I'll give it a shot and see where it takes me.


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