Having endurance issues.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by nickpasternack, May 12, 2009.

  1. nickpasternack

    nickpasternack Pianissimo User

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    Aug 21, 2008
    Rochester, NY
    Hey everyone, i havent posted in a while, but i am having some issues that iwould like to get you're opinions on. The most serious of these is a lack of long term endurance. Thats the only way i can really explain it. I play mostly lead on the gigs that i play, and being a high school student, i obviously play in the concert band, orchestra and ensembles. I am fine for about an hour, and then i just go dead. I have been studying privately for several years, but due to economic issues, i told myparents i would be willing to go without my teacher for a few months so long as i dont lapse into any bad habits.

    Basically I'll have my full range for an hour(give or take), and then just nothing. Most of my stuff is in the upper register of the horn, so i am wondering whether i should just go back to long tones? Arbans exercises? I will be seeing my teacher again soon, but again, i would just like the opinions of you all.
     
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Nick,
    endurance comes from economy, not from brute force. For players REALLY devoted to lead playing, getting equipment that fits that sound concept, and letting go of "legit" playing practices are pretty vital.
    I would recommend swimming a couple of times a week to build "lung power".

    As far as the routine goes, if you ever neglect the foundation (long tones and slurs) you will pay the price. Even although the "loud" upper register is your specialty, practicing in the stratosphere quietly builds endurance and power.

    More than ever before, you must concentrate on the building process and avoid the "tear down" by beating yourself up. The gigs are critical and that is when your playing should peak. Do not push yourself too hard the day BEFORE an important gig.

    I suspect that you have issues with maintenance because you are playing to massively - your chops are working too hard because your breathing "could" be better. If your rhythm is not spot on, that drains the energy available for playing.

    Lead playing is absolute specialty work that is not suited for everybody, regardless of range. Having the rest of your playing in line is what gives you the freedom upstairs.

    Taking lessons is important to help you play SMART. You obviously had a decent teacher (my hunch is that he is not a lead player though). You know what he told you in lessons. You can "survive" without for a while (a very honorable gesture by the way!). Just apply what you have learned. Listen to great players very closely. There are also a lot of lessons to be learned by turning on the receiver instead of the transmitter!

    Good luck and keep us up to date!
     
  3. rbdeli

    rbdeli Mezzo Piano User

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    May 8, 2009
    CO
    You're at the age where you're at a crossroads. You can either continue playing exactly how you're playing now, and always have the endurance issue, or you can drastically change some of the habits which are preventing you from becoming better. By making changes, I don't mean you have to do something drastic as switching embouchures. But you might have to make some adjustments which set you back for a while as you grow accustomed to a better way of making use of air. Endurance is almost always the result of relying on our lips instead of air. As players, we become tired when our lips are no longer vibrating enough to easily produce a good sound.

    I struggled this for years, and eventually ended up changing my embouchure in College based on a professor's recommendation ( I highly regret this ) Years later, a friend from college gave me some very valuable advise that I wish I'd have known then.

    There are great teachers out there, so keep in mind, you can always get advice and learn tips from more than just one of them.

    Here is one tip that helped me.
    Don't stretch your lips. keep them together as if you are saying, 'who'.. As you play higher, don't go back to stretching your lips. Keep them saying, 'who' . Let the air produce the sound. When your lips are formed to say, 'who' they are retaining their flexibility and vibrating as they should.

    To do this, you really need to force yourself to spend more time practicing in the low register. Use plenty of air and don't stop using air. Air is the friend of any trumpet player, even the ones who don't realize it.
     
  4. rbdeli

    rbdeli Mezzo Piano User

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    May 8, 2009
    CO
    I also wanted to add one thing:

    You can learn a lot about your playing by how you feel and sound in the lower register. Are you getting as full and open sound as possible on notes below Low-C?

    One day, I had a friend very honestly critique my sound in the lower register. He would listen to me play and say, "That sounds stuffy" or "open up your sound"

    It took me a while to realize what he was getting at. I wasn't playing low notes with the best possible sound. If I wasn't playing the low notes with my best playing mechanics possible, how could I ever improve in other registers? Getting to know how that low note sounds and feels at it's very best, you apply that as you go up the ladder. Make all your notes feel and sound as easily as the low notes should. Keep those lips in the 'who' formation, use air and the rest of your body will cooperate.
     
  5. nickpasternack

    nickpasternack Pianissimo User

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    Aug 21, 2008
    Rochester, NY
    Rowuk, you are absolutely right about my teacher. He is very much a soloist. His tone is Beautiful, BUT, he does not play in sections very often, and although he is a very good player, he doesn't focus as much on the technical side of the horn. I'm very much a "pucker" type of player (embouchure), but i do feel myself "smiling" sometimes when i'm not careful. I recently did a masterclass with Chris Botti, and i think he really exemplifies the control needed for a great player. He suggested imagining taking deep breaths as if while exercising and this would help with controlling the air column. What advice in terms of breathing exercises would you give?(you are both very knoweledgable so whoever sees this first)
     
  6. nickpasternack

    nickpasternack Pianissimo User

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    Aug 21, 2008
    Rochester, NY
    By the way, I am a competitive cyclist and speedskater, so my lung capacity is definitely there to be harnessed :cool:
     
  7. rbdeli

    rbdeli Mezzo Piano User

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    May 8, 2009
    CO
    Funny that you mention Chris Botti. Does it ever look or sound like he's tired? He just makes it look and sound so easy.. But then there are players who look as they're really working at it. Maynard for example. Maynard used to say, playing the horn is all about energy. He once told Miles Davis he wasn't using his legs right and that's why he missed the high note.

    I guess the lesson is here is that no matter how it looks, we all gotta use air. I think sometimes we pinch off our air by straining somewhere else in our body. Air is the only thing that can produce a note through that horn. Anything else we do should only be for the purpose of breathing, even if it means putting on a show like Maynard did.

    For me personally, the "who" formation of my lips was the single greatest tip I have ever had. I wished I would have been taught that 30 years ago. Whenever I start getting tired or feeling my lips stretch or form a smile, I go back to low notes and saying, "who"...and it requires more air to say who, then it does when I've stretched my lips into a smile.

    Have you ever tried controlled breathing exercises while walking?


     
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Nick, good start!
    The important part I call circle of breath. I picture our breathing as a circle-the left side inhale and the right exhale. Notice at the top and bottom that the circle is smooth. The trick with breathing is also to get that infinitely small transition between in and exhale, no bumps or angles. Practice this without the horn until you fill up and "let go" smoothly. Then replace exhale with "play". Using this method, you have a relatively low tension breathing cycle, leaving a lot of energy left to play.

    The next step with breathing is to plan WHERE you breathe when playing lead so that you are supporting the notes with the air instead of with muscle power.

    Again, the lead concept of sound needs to be worked on to play this type of music more efficiently. I can't really tell you how to do this over the internet. A picture is worth a thousand words and without a "live" picture of your playing, I would probably do more damage than help you.

    Post the general area that you live in (no exact address please). Maybe there is a qualified TMer in your area. A buddy/teacher is the quickest way to work this out
     
  9. TrumpetLucian

    TrumpetLucian Pianissimo User

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    May 7, 2009
    Indiana
    Some great advice above on where you are at, different options you have etc. This is my take on the getting tired thing. It sounds over simple but it works.

    To get more endurance, don't get tired! Its that simple, just don't. A few things to help, first lets start with the mouthpiece. If you are playing lead a lot, you should have a lead piece. My main commercial piece is a 1.5 Marcinkiewicz Bobby Shew. Its not too shallow and gives a great sound, and if I'm doing lead, I use a Marc. Ingram piece (SMALL!!) This helps me to get a cutting sound without working hard.

    Next I use the wedge breath. Search it, read it, practice it, USE IT. I've had tough rehearsals and can still pound out solid G's and A's because its not about how strong your chops are, its how efficient you use what you have.

    So get a more compact piece for lead, learn to play efficient, and you won't be getting tired. Or it will take you a long time to get tired, either way is fine.
     
  10. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Hi Nick,
    When you say "I just go dead" suggests to me that you are physically and mentally exhausted. My experience with trumpet players (including myself) is that we use far to much effort to get things done. I'll often ask students "is effective and efficient the same thing"?
    Usually they'll say " they're just about the same thing"
    Of course this is incorrect. Effective means the predetermined task got done regardless of the energy or resources used.
    An example would be "It took a pint of sweat and half of my lower lip to play a high C but I did it"!!
    Efficient means the task got done with a minimum amount of resources.
    An example would be "Gosh, when she plays high C it almost looks like she's doing nothing"
    When you play, do you use a lot of energy, force, and or effort?
    This might sound silly but only use enough energy, (tension) to get the job done.
    You've seen people play amazing things and appear as if they are doing nothing!
    How do they do that? Why aren't they exhausted? Why aren't they panting like a dog on a hot day?
    They've learned to become efficient.
    How do you play and not use so much energy? This is something you'll have to work on.
    What you are experiencing appears to be fairly normal and sounds like you're moving in a logical progression. A person is ALWAYS effective before they become efficient. Its just the way people mature at a task. You sound like you've gotten to the point where now you have to learn a new set of skills that involve the WISE use of effort. Welcome to the club that many trumpeters never enter!! Good Luck
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2009

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