Frustrating Dilemma

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Aroman, Dec 6, 2009.

  1. Aroman

    Aroman New Friend

    May 16, 2009
    Hello everyone,
    I've been playing the trumpet for 7 1/2 years, and right now I'm a junior in high school. Currently, I'm first chair in my school's wind ensemble, and third chair in the advanced jazz band.

    For a while now, I've noticed that I play with too much mouthpiece pressure, and have been for a long time, to the point where my playing immediately deteriorates within 10 minutes of playing, if even, and the prominent red ring appears on my upper lip very easily. However, whenever I play with less pressure, my range and tone quality are horrendous, making it even more frustrating than playing consciously with too much pressure. Lately, I've also noticed that I can hardly play my moderately low range (around low "c") with decent tone with or without pressure. At the same time, obligations with concert band and jazz band make it incredibly difficult to be able to work on using less pressure, as I can't apply what I've practiced at home when I still must use pressure to hit the range that I have to in concert and jazz band, let alone to be able to play the music cleanly and with good tone in general.

    Overall, it is incredibly frustrating, and I feel like I originally learned to play very incorrectly or something, and might have to start back at the beginning. I'm asking help from the Trumpet Master community. I do have a private teacher, and I'm going to start to stress this dilemma immediately, but regardless, I want to know your opinions.
  2. HSOtrumpet1

    HSOtrumpet1 Pianissimo User

    Nov 28, 2008
    You know what? There will be no easy fix for this.
    Here is what I would do.

    To AVOID something dramatic like an embrochure change, don't immediately start playing with absolutely no pressure.

    GRADUALLY, very GRADUALLY consciously loosen up the pressure. During your practices, at every breath mark where you take the horn off of your lips, put it back on with JUST a LITTLE bit less pressure than you usually use. NOT too much, just a LITTLE BIT.

    Try this, also.

    Play a series of 8 count notes. Start out like you usually do on each note, with a lot of pressure, but gradually loosen it up. So... by the time you are on count 5, you are using 1/2 the pressure that you were when you started. Hold beats 5,6,7 and 8 with 1/2 of the pressure you were using when you first started.

    Let me know if you are planning on using any of these strategies, and keep me updated!

    Best of luck,

  3. Dave Mickley

    Dave Mickley Forte User

    Nov 11, 2005
    one thing that helps me [I'm a pressure player also] is to play with your right pinky finger on top of the finger holder that is on your lead pipe.
  4. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    It sounds to me that you need to get to a good private teacher. Have them help you with pressure, breathing, and embouchure.
  5. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    I think many problems with pressure are really problems with tension and breathing. Reducing the pressure without addressing tension in your body or shallow/tense breath isn't going to help much. You might ask you teacher about posture and breathing in addition to the pressure. As you use your body and air more effectively, the pressure issue might fade away. For what it's worth, considering I can't hear you play.
  6. Aroman

    Aroman New Friend

    May 16, 2009
    Thanks for the quick advice guys, I really appreciate it, and I'll definitely look into it all. Naturally, I'm sure going to my private teacher is the wisest idea, though the advice from you all certainly helps a ton. Is there anything else I should consider?
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    DON'T CHANGE ANYTHING BEFORE CHRISTMAS (before summer vacation.......ever)!

    What you have works, we all go through it and you have positions in ensembles that do not allow for experimentation.

    Your path to less pressure is in the daily routine. Long tones, lipslurs and easy tunes. Make sure you always get that big breath - mark it in your music! Breathing is as much a part of the rehearsal as playing the notes!

    With a solid daily routine your embouchure will "gravitate" to its most efficient state. An embouchure change can wipe you out and NOBODY can guarantee success. It is not a DIY activity.
  8. Aroman

    Aroman New Friend

    May 16, 2009
    Thanks Rowuk, what you've said makes a lot of sense, though I do have one question. When you mention "easy tunes" as part of daily routine, what exactly do you recommend doing with them? Do you mean play the easy tunes focusing on less pressure, or just working on overall sound on easy to play tunes? Clarification would be much appreciated! Thanks!
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Easy tunes means that you do not need to concentrate on anything "technical" to play them. Music is the primary focus. You can play them in a very expressive, relaxed way. Plenty of time for big breaths. No extremes to foster bad habits. We build habits through (thousands of) repetitions. We start using pressure when our base is not solid and when we are pushing our limits.

    Easy tunes gives us a chance to develop what REALLY counts, not just single aspects of our playing.
  10. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    I sometimes have trouble with my corners. While playing I tend to smile instead of pucker. A very small change causes big changes in endurance.

    Lip slurs thinking EE to aa. Remember it's a very small change.

    You can do it while you are playing thoes simple tunes.

Share This Page