Frustrated With Playing, Taking Steps Backward

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

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Tobylou, I don't know what's going on with that - I'm hitting "edit" but it's submitting it like a brand new post.
     
  2. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

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    Been doing that to me too! You using an Android based device? It's worse on my Kindle than Droid X.
     
  3. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    No! I'm on a freaking PC running IE 10!
     
  4. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

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    :shock:
     
  5. nlebaron

    nlebaron New Friend

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    I get a lot out of lurking on these types of threads. Thanks guys for your good insight! As a comeback player I am soaking everything in like it is all new again :D
     
  6. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    Hi Gman,
    You stated:
    "playing 3 hours straight when frustrated will be fatiguing, which leads to inconsistent playing."
    ---
    Yes and No. By playing for so long, a person has two choices, they can either crash and burn or learn conservation. I know of no other arena to learn the skill of conservation than long grueling performances . That's how I gathered the skill and that skill allowed me to perform a five hour solo performance last Thrusday.
    Dr.Mark
     
  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Mark, I can understand what you are saying, but to me there's just no reason to continue to pound your face in the rehearsal room (and that's what it winds up being, because many tend to use more pressure when they are frustrated and not playing well) if you don't have to. There is a profound connection in your playing between your emotional and mental state and what's going on musically and physically with the horn. I know that when I'm stressed out in general in my life (and this last year, there has been plenty to be stressed out about) I don't tend to play as consistently or as freely as when things are going more smoothly.

    When I'm on a gig and things aren't going well, I just gut it out and keep going, but that's an exception rather than the rule, and it should be the exception rather than the rule IMO.
     
  8. Brent McBugler

    Brent McBugler New Friend

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    Thanks for all of the replies, there is so much to know and learn, now that I've calmed down a lot (I have a tendency to lose my temper sometimes, not just with trumpet playing). Looking back on my original post, I feel kind of like a fool stating how "angry" I was getting. But now it's time to take in what everyone has said:

    Rowuk, I have thought before about how hard I articulate, and did think about trying longtones/lip slurs without tonguing to strengthen my chops without needing the tongue. I also like your Circle of Breath. Since you mentioned marching band, I was playing on a 5c mouthpiece for marching band and since that ended I have been using a 3c (I know that the type of mouthpiece is irrelevant when it comes to practice), and there were lots of high notes, so I would assume during that season I ended up using lots of pressure, which is habitual now even though marching band has been over for 6 months.

    Dr. Mark, I too think that I am thinking too much (I have anxiety issues outside of trumpet playing and tend to do the same thing) but I still want to make sure to kill the bad habits of too much pressure. I don't and never have had a private teacher, and that would probably benefit me a ton, but in between now and the end of June I'm not sure if that's enough time to correct my chops. The thing is that I can play high, and loud, but when I do I know that I'm using pressure as a crutch and in the long-run am doing myself a disservice. Oh and by the way I would use a picture of Anne Hathaway instead of Jessica Alba if that works too.

    Trickg, I am 18 years old and about to graduate high school in a few days, so once graduation is over (our wind ensemble will be playing at graduation) I will only have my trip to Europe left before I go to college. I am going to a community college that does not have music, but I will still be playing weekly in my church orchestra, and I also perform as a legacy member of Band of America's Few when they perform shows country-wide. As a bonus if I find the time in college I can join my local community band, so having opportunities to play once high school is over is no problem. I tried making a practice sheet for myself a few months ago of things to work on, but not necessarily focusing on one thing per day, and I have had days where I just case up my horn due to frustration and go relax a bit.

    Everyone has said good things, and I really appreciate the community being helpful on TM. I will take what you said and look for a teacher, my father plays trumpet and has helped me with certain fundamentals but we mostly just practice sheet music together. We don't practice together weekly though, but we perform together in church with two other trumpet players. On another note I apologize for seeming a bit off the rails in my first post, I don't mean to come on here and complain, and yes, music is fun! I have tons of fun playing concerts and marching band was a blast, plus I played my first musical in the pit this past school year. I think I will try taking tomorrow off and coming back to the horn on Wednesday, does that sound like a good idea to anyone?
     
  9. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    Hi Trickg,
    You stated:
    "to me there's just no reason to continue to pound your face in the rehearsal room (and that's what it winds up being, because many tend to use more pressure when they are frustrated and not playing well) if you don't have to.
    ----
    I totally agree. That's where the individual learns to conserve and maintain their physical and emotional energy. If not, then they crash and burn. Unfortunately it's a make it or not scenario. You know as well as I that we've spent all day practicing and sure as heck have done it more than once. We've worked so hard that we dripped sweat. How do we do that? We learned proper technique and conservation.
    ----
    There is a profound connection in your playing between your emotional and mental state and what's going on musically and physically with the horn.
    ----
    Again, I totally agree and this portion is a very fragile thing. How to not expend all your emotional energy in the first 1/2 houh is a acquired skill and one that can't be learned from a book.
    Maybe my work ethic is flawed but when I get tired I focus on the fundimentals because those are the things that go south when I get tired. Things like excessive pressure, poor posture, using the air poorly, ect.. When I start to sound like ****, I take a break, hydrate, maybe take a shower and then get back to work especially if I'm getting ready for an unusual (they selected the music) performance.
    Dr.Mark
     
  10. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

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    Brent, I can relate to what you're experiencing, the way you described it sounds very much like my own struggles have been. There is plenty of good advice from the better qualified players on this thread and you should give it all the attention it deserves. I'll give you my 2 cents, perhaps it can help too.

    My own experience has taught me that, for way too long, I was simply trying to play beyond my means, exhausting myself even further in the process and disturbing the proper sound production. The muscles of the embouchure are rather small and designed for fine control. They give very little feedback usable to accurately gauge their level of fatigue, unlike the large muscles usually involved in physical exercise. When things deteriorate, we tend to use compensatory mechanisms (pressure, shifting the lower jaw, etc) that interfere with the desirable, proper sound production. This not only prevents you from reinforcing the desirable muscle memory, it builds bad habits, undesirable muscle memory. It is both insidious and frustrating because you can not clearly identify what you do different on the days things work well vs. when they don't. Do things the wrong way for long enough and it will start becoming the only way your body remembers. That is quite risky. Compensatory mechanisms go only so far anyway and continued strain inevitably leads to more fatigue and more need for recovery.

    The trick is to find the level of exertion and practice that will challenge your embouchure without exhausting it. This would be easier if it was always about the same but it won't be. Start with good air control and proper body mechanics. Then pay close attention to your sound. There are many warning signs that excessive strain has been reached: sound gets "crackly", attacks become uncertain or require too much tongue (also a sign of bad air use), vibration gets lost, sound becomes "airy", you feel a need for pressure, etc, etc. Whenever you detect any of these, you must stop and rest. Continued attempts will lead to continued damage. Your temper may put you at a disadvantage here because you will be tempted to keep on hammering at a piece or passage until you "get it." Doing so will take you further and further away from getting it. The other thing is that, unlike a large muscle workout, it is not necessary to feel like you have worked hard in order to make progress.

    I recommend a first sound production of the day to consist of a long medium note. It will tell you a lot on what you can expect from yourself that day. Once you have that notion, respect it. At any point, you should feel like you're asking of yourself less than what you can do. When you're done, you should feel like you could have gone on much longer. If you tackle something difficult, especially range-wise do it by short periods. Stop immediately when you detect the slightest deterioration. As exhilarating as new high notes can be when they come out nice and full, played in a relaxed fashion, do not overdo them. If you have to play a long piece that is near your endurance limit, don't try to play through it right away. This takes a lot of patience. High notes are a relative notion. Anything higher than what is comfortable and easy for you is high, even if it's still in the staff.

    The good news is that it is actually possible to get a lot of practice in a day because, any time that you've reached your limit, a prolonged rest (30 minutes or more) will reset things to a level pretty close to what you had on your first note of the day. Numerous short sessions throughout the day, in which you will never come close to any deterioration, offer great potential if they are an option.

    The bad news is that, practice pressures applied from the outside can really get the better of you: marching band, pieces to get ready on a deadline that are beyond your reach, any such pressure will tempt you to exceed your capacities and you will probably pay for it by being set back again.
     

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