Frustrated with "bad days"

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Ayukawa, May 7, 2015.

  1. Ayukawa

    Ayukawa New Friend

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    I regularly have days when for some reason, I just can't play worth a damn. Trying to play soft results in nothing coming out of the horn, and when I get it to make a sound it's a very awful airy and buzzy sound. If I'm just practicing normally, I tend to get frustrated and put the trumpet away for the night. Unfortunately, this has happened at more than one rehearsal, and even during a concert.

    I don't feel that on this "off nights" I'm doing anything differently, and have no real explanation for why it happens. Does anybody have ideas as to what causes this horrible sound and/or ability to play softly and relaxed? Perhaps a suggestion as to how to remedy or avoid it?
     
  2. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    I am sorry to hear this. sethoflagos started a thread recently on the exact opposite syndrome and I offered this blog entry A ?Bad Trumpet Day?

    Also be aware of this quote: Quote from Ann Petry

    One of the big differences between recreational players and professional players is that professional players have to learn to hide their feelings and be able to play well no matter what is going on in the rest of their life.
     
  3. Dennis78

    Dennis78 Fortissimo User

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    Most of the time before noon is bad for me so I just play what I can for as long as I can and try again later, I always seem to play better when performing even in early concerts. Maybe it's a head thing
     
  4. Tomaso

    Tomaso Pianissimo User

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    For me, bad horn days always follow too long a practice session the day before. Your lips are trying to tell you something.
    Listen to them!
     
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Ayukawa, how developed are you as a player? How long have you been playing, and how proficient are you? It might not seem relevant, but the less developed your chops are (which in turn is partially related to how long you've been playing and how proficient you are overall) can play a role in how consistent you are from day to day.

    Without hearing or seeing you play, I'd submit that your chops are not too focused on their own, which in turn causes you to use a bit too much pressure, and that in turn causes the inconsistency due to day to day changes in your lips brought on by the use of excessive pressure.

    Anymore I don't force it. After almost 34 years on the horn, I'll still have days where it's just not coming together, and the smartest thing I can do when that happens is to put the horn in the case and go do something else. With that said, when I'm practicing consistently from day to day, my off days are drastically fewer and further between, and my overall level of consistency evens out - even a bad day isn't necessarily "bad" - it's just bad for me.
     
  6. Ayukawa

    Ayukawa New Friend

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    I'm still trying to "come back" from 15 year hiatus. I've been playing again for just about a year now. My range right now is still absolutely horrible, topping out at a solid 4th space E, which is a different frustration altogether.

    I'll openly admit that between my work schedule and other obligations, my practice discipline has been VERY bad. I'm sure that's a big part of my range, endurance, and consistency problems. I'd just love to know what it is I'm doing wrong that makes me completely unable to play every once in a while.
     
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    I'll ditto Patrick about the need to know a bit more about how long you've been playing, what groups you play in, what you practice and how much. Do you have a teacher? If you don't have a teacher, the quickest way to get a diagnosis and the steps to the cure is through a lesson with a good teacher, even if it is only one. Good teachers can spot what we are doing wrong far more quickly and accurately than anyone over the internet.

    That said, sometimes players will spread their lips apart in order to get a "fatter" sound. Unfortunately, the lips need to be able to come together when playing softly, and if they are too far apart the soft notes just won't happen. Tonguing through our teeth can also cause the lips to be too far apart.

    An exercise: Play long tones at a comfortable volume, without using the tongue to start the note, then decrescendo to nothing. Ideally, at the end of the note, the sound just evaporates from a whisper to silence. If, however the sound "shuts off," that can be a sign that the lips are too far apart. Just keep at it without self-criticism and strive for a little improvement each day. Over time it will become a part of our playing.

    Slow and steady wins the race.
     
  8. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh, and the lips need to be able to come together for the high notes, too.
     
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Ok, I'm tracking with you.

    It could be that part of this stems not so much with your level of proficiency, or the bad days, but rather, it stems in part from what you think you should be able to do by this point. You took a solid amount of time off, and looking at your post history, you only had around 3 years worth of chops development before you took your 15 year break from it, so in a lot of ways, you're starting from scratch again. Being in your 30s, you no longer have the kind of physical resiliency a teenaged kid will have, and your time is split between a lot of, "I have to do this before I can do that," with the horn taking a backseat to some other responsibilities.

    Taking this back to my own development on the horn, I was late into my 3rd year as a player as a 7th grader in middle school before my playing started to take off, and needless to say, all through my formative years as a player, I'd have days where I was playing really well, and days where I just wasn't playing well at all. It may not be what you want to hear, but chops development can't be rushed, and you may not be doing anything "wrong" per se - you're simply having a bad day on an embouchure that is still in the beginning stages of being developed.

    So with all of that said, when you have those bad days, turn them into a chops focus day - don't play anything above a 3rd space/tuning C, (and maybe not above a 2nd line G) play soft and easy, and do A LOT of single tonguing exercises. I've come to believe that articulation exercises can help chops focus tremendously because I think it helps to clear up your air usage and breathing. I see it as an indirect approach - tonguing speed and consistency can't occur if your air usage is inefficient or your chops focus is out of whack, so the tonguing gives you something to focus on in terms of sound and feel as a means to help guide better chops focus and air usage and efficiency.

    I wish like heck this was my quote, but I like to quote what Rowuk has said about how "success isn't measured in days or weeks, but rather in months and years," or something to that effect. Just be patient, keep after it, and it WILL improve.
     
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  10. BernArt

    BernArt Pianissimo User

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    Anxiety: conscious or unconscious, the WORST enemy of trumpet playing. I am convinced that anxiety is, in my own experience and in many cases, the source, rooth, origin of a serie of mental and physical reactions in the human mind and body that are direct obstacles to do what we need to do to have a good trumpet study session, to get all the info. Coming from our teacher during a trumpet class, to have a good performance. It seems that a purely "mental issue" as anxiety can afect ALL the other parts of our body and it is like poison for a good, relaxed breathing. Just some thoughts... Kind regards Ayukawa!
    BernArt.
     

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