headaches after playing High B and above; remedy with tensed adominal muscles

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Vstern, Sep 24, 2011.

  1. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    Well the trick to prevention of decompression headaches may be to know how long you can hold a loud high note before its release would lead to a headache.

    Later as one improves his register control he can learn to back off the volume. If the tone still does not project due to amplified or other loud instruments? Can use a microphone. Hopefully one with a good monitor and equalization.

    I've found that experience helps twofold:

    A. Learning to pull off a high note phrase before developing too much compression.

    B. A stronger body does not develop those Slammer headaches so easily.
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The reason that you get headaches is because of the way that you play. Headaches are merely a symptom (passing out could be too!). Sure you can measure the effects of your current playing and learn to back off, but why? Everything that is wrong, is still wrong and will come back to bite you when you really don't need it. I advocate solving the problem.

    Nothing is natural about playing the trumpet. In your case, I suspect chop pressure which you compensate with blowing harder. Better chop control and less work would be infinitely preferable.

    I briefly passed out once during a show in my early 20s. That led me to really dealing with my issues instead of wasting my time by patching bad habits.

    You claim to be doing everything right. I am not sure what you use to measure against. This is something basic not working!
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2011
  3. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
  4. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    I'm gonna digress and add my list of myths specific to trumpet teaching. Warning! Thread hijack in progress.

    1. "Don't play with a closed throat". Listed earlier. As if you should remember to breath air every time you wake up in the morning. No one plays the trumpet with a "closed throat".

    2. "Bach 7C is a great mouthpiece for beginners". Yeah great at cutting lips and limiting ordinary register. Destroying a students interest before he even gets started on the horn...

    3. "Tongue level controls pitch". Same as my lucky rabbit's foot makes sure everything goes my way all day long.

    4. "Beginners should develop accuracy first". In fact the exact opposite is true. Develop AIR SUPPORT and damn the consequences. With proper breath control fewer clams and other mistakes occur. Confidence follows.

    5. "Don't over blow". Probably some good intentions here. However a beginner should almost always play louder in rehearsal or concert. Later after wind and chop development is solid he can turn down the volume a bit.

    Those are just the first five that came to my mind.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Great post! I have never lost a student on a 7C, had a couple crash and burn with 1 1/4Cs though (their choice not mine)!

    The closed throat myth is unfortunately supported by many working pros. That is only their visualization. They never bothered to google how the path from lung to mouthpiece really looks. Maybe we need to replace the word "throat" with vocal chords. There are A LOT of issues there!

    I do not consider this a hijack. Everything that you mentioned can lead to the thread owners dilemma!
  6. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Bob,I agree 100%. Headaches are caused from blowing too much air, and then trying to force it all out while over tensing not only your embouchure but your entire body ,clenching your teeth,and using too much pressure.
  7. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Sorry to disagree guys but my differential diagnosis is quit different. First, carefully read the OP's symptoms:

    -the headaches would last 2-5 seconds after I stopped, but CLEAR UP INSTANTLY
    -...I get a weird feeling in my MIDSECTION like stretching a cold muscle...5 s
    -...happen AFTER I STOP
    -my LIPS NEVER HURT from pressure...

    You don't get this from muscle mechanisms (tensing up the embouchure) he is describing a neuro-reflex reaction, kinda like a "brain freeze". [Re-read my original post]

    So OP stick with the jazz doctor, he'll take care of you... The doctor is in... REAL in!
  8. Satchmo Brecker

    Satchmo Brecker Piano User

    Jul 19, 2010
    I would say regardless of all the great specific advice here, make sure you have your blood pressure checked. Trumpet playing raises your blood pressure. If it's already too high you better watch out.
  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    While I would agree to the advice that we should routinely have our blood pressure checked, I am not sure it is accurate to state Trumpet playing raises you blood pressure. A PubMed search finds no research to back this up. The only search result remotely related to blood pressure effect I got was:

    Large cerebellar hemorrhage during trumpet playing: importance of blood pressure elevation during the valsalva maneuver: case report.
    Carlson AP, Pappu S, Keep MF, Turner P.
    Neurosurgery. 2008 Jun;62(6):E1377; discussion E1377.

    PMID: 18824959 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    As you can see this is an isolated report of one patient that had an effect of TRANSIENT BP elevation when performing the valsalva maneuver due to a congenital blood vessel problem he had, leading to this stroke. My posts have been directed toward avoiding the valsalva as much as possible by letting your lower airway produce the pressure through restrictive maneuvers using abdominal effects. So while in this poor individuals case, a transient rise in BP lead to a poor outcome, this result should not be generalized. Chronic performance of trumpet playing has not been linked to causing or making existing hypertension worse.

    See also the following information to support this perspective:
    High Blood pressure can affect your playing if it's quite high by making you dizzy. Obviously, you should get whatever treatment your family physician recommends, usually a combination of weight loss, meds, exercise, decreased salt intake, and so on. Untreated high blood pressure increases your risk of heart attacks and stroke.

    However..... you should not need to change your playing at all. Blowing hard shouldn't affect your BP. Two different mechanisms at work here. Trumpeting involves your lungs, diaphragm and mouth, and the other is your blood vessels, heart and kidneys. While they obviously work together, blowing your horn shouldn't harm your blood vessels.

    I hope that helps. Below are some general references that I like.

    Alan Koenigsberg

    Causes of High Blood Pressure: Weight, Diet, Age, and More


    Reference to this original site: [TPIN] Hypertension and trumpet playing
  10. Dave Hughes

    Dave Hughes Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 19, 2010
    Rochester, NY
    I used to play with so much compression that I would sometimes blow out a "smoke" of compressed water vapor- would also get severe sinus headaches. Several people hypothesized, and I may be wrong, that all the compression I used (and several people here have suggested this too) pushed compressed air up into my sinus'. I too learned to play with less compression up high- speeding up air, tongue position and the use syllables- and I have not had headaches in years.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011

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