Frustrated With Playing, Taking Steps Backward

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Brent McBugler, May 31, 2014.

  1. Bwanabass

    Bwanabass Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 20, 2013
    Syracuse, NY
    Greetings Brent,

    There is already excellent advice posted above. I also have some mighty frustrating days, but there are so many factors involved! Having a clean horn and a clear mind is a good place to start. I thought I'd link to my thread from a few weeks ago, when I was having a discouraging day... There were many good thoughts posted there as well.

    Good luck!
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Hi Mark,

    I did not mean to imply that the only solution is the Circle of Breath. The lowest common denominator IS as you said, breathing and then (as no one has said) replacing exhale with play. That is a concept that I have not seen in writing anywhere else although I have no copyright on it!
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Brent, be sure to form your embouchure before adding the mouthpiece and pressure.
  4. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi rowuk,
    You stated:
    "The lowest common denominator IS as you said, breathing and then (as no one has said) replacing exhale with play.
    The concept of inhale and play is discussed in The Basics Sheet. Your document is dedicated only to air and that puts a fine point on the topic whereas The Basics Sheet is many things and a lot to grasp.
    That being said, The air use is still the most important factor in playing a wind instrument. My 11 yr old daughter just did a trumpet recital and several seasoned brass players were there. The one thing they all said to me afterwards was "Good air control". Good air control is why she scares the hell out of the other trumpet players. She pops E's and F's above high C and shows no strain in doing so. Unfortunately, she tends to show off her abilities from time to time and my wife has the nerve to say "Where does the acorn fall?"
    Never the less, as you know, many problems can be averted or repaired when a person learns to properly use the air.
    At this point I feel like I'm preaching to the choir.
  5. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Brent, you may also be over blowing... and for sure, playing 3 hours straight when frustrated will be fatiguing, which leads to inconsistent playing. Stop it... or I will bury you alive in a box!
  6. strad116055

    strad116055 Pianissimo User

    May 27, 2014
    you sound like a busy and hardworking guy. i'm a newer member, but i get the impression that i'm quite a bit older than you. i've just got a couple of simple things...nothing fancy.

    you don't mention a warmup. it is no substitute for practice, but it is a time to get your "normal" going and get your head on straight before you get to work. its both physical and mental. it will build confidence, and help with consistency. if you're busy, it has to be time-efficient.

    marching band is a bitch. after your chops take a pounding, its not a bad idea to warm down with some very simple things to get the kinks out.

    there are lots of good things suggested here, and of course, work with your teacher.

    when you're working hard and have a lot to do, its very tempting to not follow the "rest as much as you play" rule when practicing, but now is the time you need it most. muscles build during the rest periods. not resting adequately will tear you down faster than you can build yourself up.

    drink plenty of water and get plenty of sleep. muscle recovery is very dependent on both.

    most of all, be patient with yourself. if you have a discerning ear, that's great. notice the details, but be kind to yourself. keep your self-talk positive. its music, and its supposed to be fun. if you can't enjoy it because you're beating yourself up, maybe ease up on yourself a little bit.

    and have a blast on that trip. it'll probably be something you'll always remember. i wish you all the best.
  7. Ed Kennedy

    Ed Kennedy Forte User

    Nov 18, 2006
  8. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    deleted - dupe. What's up with that?
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Brent, how old are you? If you are a high school kid trying to improve, I'm not surprised by the inconsistency - many players in their formative years go through large swings of inconsistency, and because you are still figuring out pretty much everything - not just the horn but life too - sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint just what in the heck is going wrong.

    You say your are practicing 1-3 hours a day. On the surface that sounds great, but often times practice isn't about how much time, it's what you do with that time that matters the most. For example, if you play with too much mouthpiece pressure, chances are 3 hours a day might actually be detrimental.

    Years ago I incorporated some things into my practice that had a wonderful impact on my playing, but it wasn't a short term solution - when you are dealing with things regarding your chops and consistency, they rarely are. In any case, I started breaking my practice sessions down into individual components where one day all I would work would be articulation and finger coordination. The next practice might be all about long tones, and the practice after that might be all about lip slurs and slurred arpeggios. I still had practices where I tied everything together, but doing extended, focused work on a single discipline or aspect of playing can really improve it in a hurry. For these practices I ditched the music page altogether. I think that a lot of players get too caught up with what is on the page, and they lose touch with what's going on right at the chops. If you ditch the music and really focus on what's going on between you and the horn, you'll find things will start to dial back in to where you want them to be, and it it's through that focused repetition, where you are finding and making those minor adjustments to dial things in is where you develop the consistency you are looking for.

    These days I find that if I'm starting to have chops issues, if I take a week or so and work my fundamentals like I used to, it rights the ship pretty quickly.

    As a side note, sometimes I still have days where I pick up the horn and it just isn't happening. Those are the days where I've decided that discretion is the better part of valor, and I simply put the horn away. In my experience, I've found that it's almost always better to put it away and come back to it fresh another day than to force things in a practice session that has become frustrating. I've done far more damage than good when I've pushed the issue. There's more to life than playing the horn - put the horn in the case, go see a movie, go hang out with friends - do something to relax and come back to it with a revitalized mindset the next day.
  10. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    Just as good the 2nd time!!

Share This Page