Going backwards?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Mamba21500, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. Mamba21500

    Mamba21500 Piano User

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    Hello all,
    I can't understand what is happening with my trumpet playing. It appears to be going backwards (at least in range and endurance) and not going forwards in anything else.
    I try to play at least an hour a day (most days considerably more), and I practice long tones, breathing, lip slurs, tonguing, technical studies; all of the things that people say constitutes a good routine, I also take breaks regularly.
    I'm comparing my playing now from what it was in the summer, where I could happily play a high C (play not squeal) even at the end of a rehearsal. But now I can't even play on at the start (I'm using range as an example as it is the biggest change in my playing).
    If anybody has any idea of what the issue could be, please state.
    Thanks :)
     
  2. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

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    Mamba,

    If you are serious about trumpet playing, I would say that 1h/day is far from enough. If your practice routine is inteligent enough it may be sufficient to maintain your present level, but not more. We cant solve such a problem over the internet. Go to your teacher (or get one), speak to him and sort it out.
     
  3. Mamba21500

    Mamba21500 Piano User

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    Okay, I will endeavour to practice more. How long would you suggest? I have no intention of going into music as a career, so I obviously do not have the time to play 5 hours or so a day, and I can't afford to come out of school with poor grades.

    I do have a teacher, though his solution was that I shouldn't blame him for anything that has happened, as I'm the one that changed something, not him.. true (though I don't know what I changed), but not very helpful at all.

    Thanks
     
  4. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

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    If I was you, I would go back to him and ask him what he meant. Unless there is something totally wrong with your student-teacher relationship, he shouldn't mind to answer and eventually propose an according action. He is much better suited to help you than any of us. As for the duration of the practice...that would depend on your needs, goals and your drive to get better. Personally, I would recommend to break your daily practice in 2 or 3 practice session of not more than 40min each throughout the day, if your schedule allows it. The basic principle is that your routine should include all various aspects of trumpet playing - technics (various kind of tonguing, slurring, range exercises and work on different dynamic levels, stamina, dexterity etc) and musicianship (tunes, melodic studies and concerto/sonatas). You need to find somekind of balance between those and there are some excellent suggestions on possible practice routines on the internet:

    Wynton Marsalis practice routine & tips

    Trumpet Practice

    I am sure that you can find many more and eventually adapt it to your own need and situation. I guess that if you do mostly jazz, you may have to dedicate more time on learning chord changes, patterns and jazz scales. Use your head and do not turn down any help you can get (including the one coming from your own teacher).
     
  5. Satchmo Brecker

    Satchmo Brecker Piano User

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    If I were you I'd stop practicing altogether for about a week. Sounds like you've hit what runners call "the wall". The natural tendency is to practice/run more, which is the exact opposite of what you should do. And don't worry about losing your chops...your mind and body will be working "behind the scenes" to catch up.

    It's like your brain/body is this big vat, but the only way to get stuff into it is through a funnel. Hitting the wall means your funnel is overflowing, not that there's something wrong with the vat. So you need to give the stuff you've been pouring in a chance to flow through the small end of the funnel into the vat.
     
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    You need someone there to help you assess what's going on. A good trumpet teacher (emphasis on the word "good") is a start. It could be so many things that are affecting your playing that we couldn't hope to give you an accurate assessment online without seeing or hearing you.

    Having said that, if you leave your practice routine the same for too long, you will stagnate. You need to switch things around sometimes to bring about change. Try playing for a couple of days on a different mouthpiece and then go back to your normal mouthpiece. That can sometimes shock the muscles of the chops if they had started to stagnate.

    You also can't really practice to a specific time - you need to do what's right for you, but I guarantee that if you are covering your bases and are taking the proper time to rest enough in between, it's going to take more than an hour. I have a maintenance routine I sometimes do when I'm short on time that takes about an hour, and it's pretty bare bones - I'm not trying to improve, only to maintain so that my chops don't degrade,and I've been playing long enough that I can streamline my approach because I know what my chops need to so that they don't degrade. Since you are are trying to improve, you need to put in some real focus and time on the things you are working on.

    Another thing you might try is that rather than trying to cover all bases in a single practice session, try focusing on just one aspect per practice session. For instance, on a given day, focus on articulation exercises. The next day only do long tones, the day after that, only work flexibilities. (You don't have to completely ignore everything else, just make that one facet of technique your primary focus for the bulk of your practice session) I used to do it that way and made great strides in my playing doing it that way.

    Something else to consider is that your ability on the trumpet and the progress you make is not linear. You won't always continue to improve from day to day, and you may not be playing as well now as you were a couple of weeks ago. Over the years I have found that so many things affect my playing and sometimes I'm playing at my best, and other times it just seems like a struggle, and my ability as a player has a lot of peaks and valleys over time. I guess the trick is to make it to where the valleys don't dip quite so low.

    Last thing - true progress on the horn and as a musician is not really measured in days or even weeks. Most of the time it is measured in months or years, although there will be times when you will grow quickly, and other times where it seems you have stopped progressing altogether. Just be patient. I turned 40 this year and but for about 18 months about 10 years ago, I have played regularly since I was 11. As a musician, I have made some major strides in the last year or so - not so much a chops thing, but more along the lines of general musicianship where I'm finally developing my own voice.

    So, be patient, shake things up, work hard, and get some solid assessment from someone else who is actually qualified to give it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010
  7. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

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    I thought it was worth repeating Satchmo's insightful comment in context. Naively playing more may cause more harm than good. Think about it -- whatever the OP is doing right now is leading to range and endurance problems. If this is true, then more of the same is unlikely to help.

    It's not always how much you are playing, but what (and how) you are playing. A private teacher can help with the specifics.
     
  8. Mamba21500

    Mamba21500 Piano User

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    Thank you for all of the comments.
    Nick: I looked at the links that you sent me, they are extremely helpful, thank you. I would do multiple practice sessions throughout the day, but as I attend school, and there is nowhere suitable to practice there, it is not possible for me to play before around 4.30 in the afternoon.

    Satchmo and TrumpetMD: The idea of not playing for a while is a good idea which I will surely do when bands are off for christmas, but as I have concerts this week it might not be the opportune time to do so.

    Patrick: I currently do change around what I practice each session, and I often swap between cornet and trumpet, so I don't think it is easy for my lips to become overly used to each mouthpiece, though I don't know how long muscle memory lasts.

    Thanks again.
     
  9. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

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    Mamba,

    You don't have to use any excuses. Use your head, find practice slots that WORK with YOUR time schedule. As for overuse, we don't get use limits with each instrument - this is not working like your internet download/upload limits. Though some instruments (like piccolo and other high pitched trumpets practice) may reduce your overall endurance in the begining, you normally get a certain endurance and stamina that comprises all the instruments and mouthpieces that you may be using. Face muscles certainly have some "memory" but I doubt that they have a "brain" to difffer between your cornet and trumpet mouthpieces. You've got A brain, which is located inside your head, not inside your lip muscles. My point is, overuse is possible when switching different equipment - whether is your case, I don't know.

    As you have understood, my posts and Satchmo's are not in any kind of contradiction. quality and quantity of practice should go together, not one or the other. As I already wrote, use your brain first, then put gear in use. Hopefully, you will be fine in few months with right direction from a good teacher and lots of hours spent in inteligent and dedicated practice.
     
  10. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

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    Just to clarify, I don't necesssarily suggest you take time off. I just didn't want you to think that simply playing more would solve the problem. As Trumpetnick added, "quality and quantity should go together".
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010

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