Frustrated. What am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by isuckattrumpet, Nov 19, 2013.

  1. isuckattrumpet

    isuckattrumpet Pianissimo User

    Oct 30, 2013
    God Bless America
    I have been practicing every day. I generally spend a good amount of time warming up properly. Last week played to the point that my mouth got sore and I felt indents on the inside of my mouth. And then I relaxed for a couple days by playing lightly, and yesterday I didn't play at all. Today my lips felt refreshed, much better than last week, but my endurance and range seemed like they had gone backwards instead of improving. This is is very problematic for me. I have so much I need to practice but my endurance is limiting me. And then there's my range - despite the fact I've been playing for eight years, I still have trouble playing a high A. My range will go no higher than a high C#. The music that I play nowadays is mostly in the upper register, and I have neither the endurance nor the range to play it properly.
    What do I do....
  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Endurance is gained through many, many low-impact exercises. As an example, starting with middle c, play chromatically down to low f[SUP]#[/SUP] and back, slurring the whole time, playing softly over and over again. At some point, taking the mouthpiece away from the lips, you'll notice that your lips tingle. That is a good sign. When the lips tingle after playing it is a sign that more blood than usual is passing through the capillaries, expanding them. Essentially, you are teaching your body to bring more blood into your chops, and this blood nourishes the muscles while taking away waste products.

    Another low impact exercise is to play "ghost tones." To start, play a comfortable long tone, like a g in the staff and slowly decresendo to nothing. Done correctly, these ghost tones give the feeling that the note is held back at the bell. We want to progress until we can start notes as a ghost tone, and later, play low chromatically as in the exercise above entirely with ghost tones.

    A great thing about ghost tones is that the chops have to be working efficiently to play them. Soft playing requires a very small aperture and more strength than loud playing, and the cool thing is that playing high notes also requires a small aperture. These low impact ghost tones, even in the lower and middle register, can work our chops like high loud playing, yet remain low impact and help our endurance.

    If I understood correctly, c[SUP]#[/SUP] above the staff is your limit, and trying to play a d results in "nothing," no wimpy baby d, just air. If so, it is the result of having your lips too far apart. Excess pressure can cause this, or having the lips too far apart when bringing the mouthpiece to the lips, or tonguing through the lips....

    Good luck!
  3. Sidekick

    Sidekick Mezzo Piano User

    Apr 14, 2011
    London UK
    What great, clear advice.
    I'll do doing ghost tones tonight!
  4. reedy

    reedy Piano User

    Jul 31, 2009
    Wiltshire, UK
    you may have been playing 8 days none stop but are you practising the right things...

    I went through a faze of just playing at home, not really practising, just playing... really high...

    Ive been doing cat anersons 20 minute G at ppp every few days and its made a massive difference, now im not saying go and do that, but crack on with some really really quiet playing, long notes and the appegeated stuff in the front of the aurban is really good

    for endurance work check out the carusio, again, its mostly long notes! why? because long notes help!

    also check out the clarke studdies, and play them all properly, at pp

    try and relax more andthink about using less pressure when you go higher, if you start using more pressure stop and go lower and build it up again
  5. Igotsoul4u

    Igotsoul4u New Friend

    Nov 15, 2013
    Princeton, NJ
    I am big believer in buzzing. Buzzing can expose overplaying. I find a lot of my students can be playing a middle G but are buzzing a B. The tone is dull and dead. When you buzz a G and use the same setting when you play, your tone will be vibrant which also helps you work less. Buzzing isn't everything, but it's a great way to see what the trumpet is hiding from you. I personally had great success with the buzzing book. Exercises 1-5 are my daily warmup. My chops feel awesome everytime after my warmup. Keep in mind other physiological factors like hydration, sleep, or chapped lips can affect you. Don't get mad!!

    James Thompson, The Buzzing Book for Trumpet
  6. BitLion

    BitLion New Friend

    Nov 13, 2013
    San Diego
    I'm seeing lots of great advice on this thread, it'll help with what I wrote on my thread. Thanks guys

    Going to try ghost tones tomorrow. Looking forward to it
  7. isuckattrumpet

    isuckattrumpet Pianissimo User

    Oct 30, 2013
    God Bless America
    Thank you all for the advice. Especially Vulgano Brother, very detailed response. I appreciate the time you take for each response to my threads! :) This week I will be very busy but next week is Thanksgiving break and I will definitely be trying out all these suggestions, including buzzing.
  8. bigtiny

    bigtiny Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2005
    All good advice, but in your case I'd go back to fundamentals.

    In 8 years you say your range tops out at C# and confortably at A.....I think you need to go back and reexamine your breathing
    and support structure. It sounds like your doing too much work with your chops and not with your breath.

    Make sure you are breathing down low and supporting yourself all the way up through the breath column and through the
    embochure. Practice this with slow long tones and lip slurs, gradually moving higher. (by gradually, I mean it might take
    weeks to add a 1/2 step to the upper notes).

    As in all cases, you might want to consult a teacher.


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