Factors that go into playing well?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trickg, Dec 12, 2005.

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    I wanted to get some feedback about something with my playing over the last couple of weeks.

    I had been pretty frustrated with my playing as of late. I have had several gigs in a row where I just didn't play well and had some endurance issues - I was just tapped out by the end of the job. This was even more surprising because I thought I was doing everything right in terms of practice, warm up, etc.

    It started with the gigs last weekend - I rolled into Friday night's gig tired from the standard work grind, and even though I have been practicing, I just couldn't seem to get my chops to respond right. Saturday night was better, but I was still chopped out and was hanging on by a thead at the end of the gig. Wednesday was a one set gig for full money, but even though it was only one set, I was still hitting the bottom of the chops barrel by the end of the gig.

    After that gig, out of frustration, I popped the horn in the case, and didn't even look at it again until I showed up for the gig on Saturday. I was just past the point of caring - it was the last gig we had on the calendar prior to New Year's Eve, and frankly, coming off of 3 gigs where I felt my playing was less than stellar, I didn't even want to look at the horn in the practice room - my heart just wasn't in it, and although I did a bit of a warm-up prior to the gig Saturday, it was minimal at best.

    All of this considered, by my normal "rules" of playing and practicing, I should have just chalked up one more gig on the "Bad" list and called it a night. Normally if I neglect practicing for several days and just show up at the gig, I can usually place bets on the fact that I'm going to have chops problems - lack of focus, lack of endurance, lack of range, etc.

    When we kicked off the gig, my chops weren't quite centering, but if I was missing, it seemed I was missing high. And then things just started to click and my playing was on fire - nothing fancy, but I wasn't missing and it seemed like I had chops to burn. I even took some stuff up an octave and nailed it, no questions asked. All of a sudden, I was having a great time and playing trumpet was fun once again - I needed that more than I realized. And here's the kicker: due to how the gig was structured, we didn't do multiple sets - we played one 2:45, minute set and I had chops to spare at the end.

    I guess the thing that gets me is the idea that I took no steps to prepare myself either mentally or physically for this gig, yet I played well anyway as opposed to last week when I thought I was taking all the necessary steps to insure that I played well, and ended up playing poorly anyway.

    The only thing that I can really come up with that might be a factor is that I was physically tired prior to all of those other gigs, and I woke up feeling refreshed after a good, solid night's sleep on Saturday morning. Can it be as simple as the fact that I wasn't fatigued?

    Any feedback or similar personal experiences are most welcome!
     
  2. wrbandel

    wrbandel Pianissimo User

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    Patrick,

    Sometimes you just need a few days away from the horn. To clear your mind, and let your lips recover. Especially, if you've been playing a lot. You may be frustrated with your practicing, but keep it up. The results may not show up during the current gigs, but over the longhaul you'll see, and hear the results. Hang in there.

    Warren
     
  3. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

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    Pat,

    I can complete understand what you are dealing with and the frustrations you have posted about, but the biggest factor that keeps sticking out in my mind when I read your post on the problems you have is the lack of private lessons. I think that if you could take regular lessons with someone alot of these problems you keep having would work themselves out.
     
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Thanks Warren. I appreciate the support.

    It's tough being a part-time player these days and the thing that I miss the most is consistency - during the early 90s when I was in the FUSA Band at Fort Meade, my consistency was such that I played well almost every gig and rare was the exception where I had a clinker. Now, I have good days and bad days with no real rhyme or reason why.

    It's gigs like last weekend that make me want to hang up trumpet and go full tilt on playing the drums

    And it's gigs like Saturday night that make me realize why I have played trumpet for 25 years.

    When things are working it's a thrill ride almost beyond compare, but when they aren't.... :bash:

    Diz, would they work themselves out? I just can't figure out what I do differently on the nights where things are popping, and I've been doing this long enough that I should at least have a clue.

    I've not had a lot of luck with private instruction - my private instruction at the school of music was lacking to say the least. My instructor meant well, but he just wasn't a very good teacher and I figured more stuff out on my own during those six months than he helped me with.

    Economically, my wife would ask me why it would matter; I'll collect the cheque whether I play great or not so why spend money for lessons when ultimately it isn't going to matter one whit what I get paid for the gig.
     
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Something else that I have considered regarding my chops and my perception of how well I play on a given night are the tunes that are called. We have some tunes that are chop killers for me and since the horns book contains approximately 250 charts, sometimes we play a lot of them, some times we don't. The problem with most of them isn't that they are so high - the ones that really sap my endurance are the ones with lots of whole notes all over the place such as "Shake a Tail Feather" and "Think" from our "Blues Brothers" medley, and that medly always takes me to the limit. Come to think of it, we've been playing that a lot lately, but we didn't play it Saturday night. But let's face it, we can't all be Alan Rubin, aka Mr. Fabulous.

    One thing is for certain - I won't neglect practicing between now and New Years Eve with the idea that less practice will produce better results for me.

    Thanks for the comments guys. Keep em coming.
     
  6. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

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    I feel that it is fairly obvious that if one has not had private instruction that they will have some problems in their playing. A good private teacher can assign you things to work on that will help with those problems, thus ironing a lot of things out over time.

    The better you play the trumpet the more consistent you will be on your gigs.
     
  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    You could certainly have a point, although I would also point out that I know guys who have had private instruction, and lots of it, who have plently of problems in their playing, and more problems than I have by comparison.

    I have thought several times about getting some private instruction, but I think that the next road I go down will be when I finally decide to go for broke and make a total embouchure change because with what I'm dealing with, I'm not going to get there with exercises and practice - not on this embouchure.
     
  8. Dave Mickley

    Dave Mickley Forte User

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    trickg - I am going back to a clinic Doc Sev. did at my high school back in 1967. he said one of the keys to being a good trumpet player is a healthy diet, plenty of excersize and lots of rest. playing the horn is a physical activity and we must be well rested to play right. he always takes a nap before performing and he excersizes daily. I think you already knew the answer when you mentioned you were already tired from working hard on wed. pay attention to your body young man and also step back and listen to yourself. you were already on the right track - - Good Luck Dave :cool:
     
  9. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

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    Why not seek out a teacher to “change your embouchure� In my experience the best “embouchure†changes or “chop†doctors are the ones that never use the word embouchure and can use etudes and exercise to guide you to a better functioning set up.

    The embouchure only responds to what it is given, I don’t feel you really can or should try to control it. Your statement suggests that you think other wise. To me the embouchure is only the seal of the lips to the mouthpiece I don’t understand how people can talk about this embouchure or that embouchure….

    Either way a GOOD private teacher is the way to go.
     
  10. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Undoubtedly you are right regarding the teacher, but the question now becomes one of how much time and effort am I really willing to give it. I'm a part time player with two kids - sometimes it's an effort to make sure I'm putting in the time that I do. If I could play every gig like I played Saturday night, life would be good and I wouldn't worry about it too much. If I could make gains on that...now THAT would be something!

    Thanks for the comments. I appreciate the constuctive criticism.
     

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