Excess tension in Neck

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by MSP2008, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. MSP2008

    MSP2008 New Friend

    4
    0
    May 9, 2009
    Hello all, I am a sophmore in college, taking private lessons currently. My teacher and I have started to see an increase in tension especially in the neck muscles, and then eventually in my emborchure, specifically my corners. It feels as if the corners tighten and tighten, until my lips do not vibrate at all. Also, my teacher thought he saw my bottom lip tuck under. My lips eventually give out, needing a few seconds to relieve. As i play again, my endurance is shorter. As I go up the scale, it is noticable that the neck muscles are tightening. especially starting above the staff. I believe it's me compensating for my lack of efficiency using my air. I have no remedy. My endurace is short and wish to relieve the tension as much as I can. Thank you for any help.
     
  2. trumpetup

    trumpetup Piano User

    318
    32
    Jan 12, 2009
    Godley, Texas
    Did your tension start when you, as your signature says (Moving from 5C to 3C)? Sometimes our chops don't like or need a change. You said your teacher noticed your tension also. Do they have any suggestions? I struggle with tension also. I think it is in the mind set of just letting it all go. If I can get in the mind set of Tine Thing Helseth I do better.
    YouTube - Tine Thing Helseth: Haydn Trumpet Concerto, 3rd mvt

    Good Luck
    Bobby
     
  3. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    6,786
    3,551
    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    My suggestion to you would be to look around for a chops doc in your area - someone teaching the Reinhardt method, or any other chops teacher who has a good reputation for diagnosing and fixing chops problems. Whatever is going on, based on your description, things are getting worse, and quickly, so you need to get it nipped in the bud pretty quick.

    It could be any manner of things - over thinking things, practicing more than your chops can take, trying to do things outside of what your chops are capable of doing, etc. The end result is that things are getting bad and if your teacher doesn't know how to fix it, you need to find someone who can.
     
  4. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    2,156
    15
    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    This is what might be termed a "sympathetic tension" that develops in the neck as you expend intense energy elsewhere.
    I hate to sound overly zen like but try to relax and focus on the energy flowing out of the horn and not gathering in your neck or throat.
    Notice Tine's face. Does it look relaxed or is it all scrunched and strained looking? Is beautiful music coming out of the horn?
    In fact, if you look at Mendez, Doc, Balsom, when they play, it seems like there should be more visible effort on their faces as they play. Notice their faces are calm.
    Send the energy out of the horn like a beam and don't let it gather in other places.
    Mind over matter.
     
  5. MSP2008

    MSP2008 New Friend

    4
    0
    May 9, 2009
    Thank you all so much for your input! The whole mind over matter thing is really what my teacher suggested. He says I typically over analyze, and while I'm playing, can tell I am thinking about every little thing. He says you need to just "let it happen." And to be honest, it did start while playing the Neruda Concerto. I already switched from the 5C to 3C, about 8 months ago. I will try to relax the next couple weeks before I practice, or have a lesson. Thank you all for your input!
     
  6. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    1,189
    84
    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Most tension is the result of poor breathing habits. Breathing correctly will not only help your tone ,but also your range,endurance,and flexibility . When your air does its work ,it lightens the work load for your embouchure.
     
  7. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    2,156
    15
    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Analysis is a important phase of learning something.
    Think of it as the mechanical clunky phase of learning something.
    A good example of this would be learning to drive a car.
    A teenager (or anybody for that fact) analyses every aspect about how they are driving. Its a time of high stress and where can you see some of the stess manifesting itself? Visible white knuckles clenching the steering wheel!
    I'm sure you remember this phase of learning to drive. Of course now, we hop in our car, and drive while drinking coffee and speaking to someone on the phone and think nothing of it.
    With that said, don't get stuck in the analysis phase. Your stuff will sound mechanical if you do not developmentally move on.
    How to get past this? Your teacher gave you the answer. "Let go".
    Let go of the safety net of mechanics and sing.
    Why?
    When you get to the point where you sing with the horn, even if you play a wrong note it will either sound right or, it will make no difference because you are "singing".
    What's singing with the trumpet?
    When what you are conveying has more to do with emotion than notes.
    Here's a trick I learned from a famous female singer.
    When you sing(regardless of the instrument used to project the song) it needs to penetrate and go through the listener. Not loud, but project the energy through them.
    How do you know you're doing it right?
    When it seems like the person who's listening is warmly vibrating like the horn in your hand, you've got it right.
    Listen to your teacher and see if you can make your teacher vibrate. Don't send the energy to the teacher, send the energy through the teacher.
    Hope this helps
     
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    61
    16,611
    7,953
    Jun 18, 2006
    Germany
    Instead of thinking about it so much, take a shower BEFORE you practice, then you go in relaxed.

    While playing, back off. Tension ALWAYS increases when you push the envelope and there is no proof that a practice session full of leading edge accomplishes anything except increase in frustration. When my students "choke off", they simply take a sip of tap water. The tension disappears. We do not analyse the "choking" because I do NOT want them to spend time thinking about it. we can solve all of the issues by making sure that ME the TEACHER is paying attention and teaching HOW to practice is almost more important than WHAT to practice.

    In my search for the silver bullet, I have found that the more we IDENTIFY the problems together, the more other aspects of playing are unnecessarily dragged into the intellectualization.

    For those of you that generally play BETTER during lessons, it is because you are focussed on the teacher and not yourself. That is also the approach on stage - audience first.
     
  9. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    2,156
    15
    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Rowuk sez:
    When my students "choke off", they simply take a sip of tap water. The tension disappears. We do not analyse the "choking" because I do NOT want them to spend time thinking about it. we can solve all of the issues by making sure that ME the TEACHER is paying attention and teaching HOW to practice is almost more important than WHAT to practice.
    ----------
    Now that's why a good teacher is important. That's a great tip rowuk, thanks.
     
  10. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    Age:
    69
    1,465
    127
    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    Does your teacher say more than "just let it happen?
     

Share This Page