Help with long tone performance.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by BrotherBACH, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

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    I have a question about long tones (love 'em).

    I have read on TM about two sets of embouchure muscles: those that comprise the preverbal corners and the facial muscles around the cheek bones (I think). I also think I read that they work opposite to each other.

    Well, I ask this because I do not think I have really felt the cheek muscles before --- until the past couple of weeks. I have been doing more lengthy long tone exercises. Everything seems great until I start playing at fifth line F. While my playing range is much higher than that, long tones at fifth line F and higher seem to be a completely different skill.

    My long tone exercise takes me gradually from fifth line F to G on top of the stave. I emphasize that these notes are not hard for me to play within the context of normal exercise, etude, or song. But, within the context of the long tone exercise they seem very difficult, almost completely different than normal. I am holding each note for 6 counts at 60 bpm. The minute I hit fifth line F for long tones, it seems that the muscles around the checks want to kick in to open my aperture and let more air through. I admit that I am blowing harder. Also, the muscles just below the lower lip on the chin (in between the corners) seem to be kicking in to do the same thing; that is, open the aperture to blow more air. The corners may be squeezing the aperture smaller at the same time. I don't know as I find this a real effort and just concentrating on breathing to make the note speak.

    It seems as if I really need to blow lots of air with a more open aperature above with fifth line F and above. I am not trying to do this. It just seems that is the only way the notes come out.

    It is just shear fatigue kicking-in? I know the muscles do weird things when fatigued, and will recruit other muscles (synergists) to help ward off physiological breakdown of the skill. Or, are the long tones teaching me how I really should be controlling things and part of the "evolutionary" process to getting things right?

    Thanks for any input. I will read your thoughts eagerly.


    BrotherBACH
     
  2. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

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    I notice my aperture wants to open up somewhere near the 5th line F, maybe I have a breakpoint there -- but it seems like slightly different muscles come into play. More air helps to produce a fuller sound -- and I think that is where the harmonics of the trumpet are peaked out (that or the G above that).
    holding these notes longer than 6 counts have helped increase the endurance at the F anyhow. But I still get tired also.
     
  3. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    Doing long tones is a lot like meditation. You play a soft tone and listen deep into the sound to create the best sound possible.
    I don't know how far along you are in your skills and if you just started using the correct muscles, then yes, its going to be hard to do.
    However, from what you explained, you might want to check how you are using your air.
    Try this the next time you do your long tones:
    Imagine a hole about the size of a tennis ball in the small of your back. When you inhale, imagine the air being sucked into that hole. This will cause the area around the belt to extend. This may reduce some of the fatigue.
    Hope this helps
     
  4. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

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    Thanks for these responses so far. It is nice to know that this difficulty is normal. I will try your suggestion tomarrow for sure. Markie, you have a talent for creating an image in someone's mind of what they are supposed to do. Thanks.

    BrotherBACH
     
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Uhh, six seconds is not a long tone, and it is way too early to start isolating muscles.

    I like playing long tones long enough so that boredom comes into play and then go beyond the boredom--weird stuff, like trying to fill the room with the sound without playing louder; isolating different harmonics, etc.

    Just playing around with what is coming out the bell rather than the why, really. Once we figure out how to intuitively control the what we can approach the why.

    Hope this makes sense!
     
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    My guess is that he meant to type "16" instead of 6 and somehow the "1" got dropped. That, or he meant to type "60." Long tones for me range somewhere from 40-60 seconds, and I don't tend to push them too far out of the staff - in fact, I usually stick to tuning C and below. For me it's about really focusing in on the sound and using some mental imagery to shape it.
     
  7. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

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    Oct 5, 2010
    I am talking about the "Schmidt Long Tones - Directional" that is in Don Johnson's "A Comprehensive Practice Routine for the Aspiring Brass Player".

    The exercise is in 6/4 time. Each bar has a dotted whole note (six beats). There is a slur across two bars. At the end of the second bar there is a quite breath before starting the next slurred pair. So, that is taking a breath on the 12 beat, I guess. The exercise is a whole page with a 2 minute rest between the top and middle third of the page and another 2 minute rest between the middle and bottom third of the page.

    The slurs are directional going up and down half a tone over the twelve beats (six and six for two notes). The entire exercise gradually takes you up and down the stave. But, by the time I get to the last exercise on the page (bottom third), it starts out at fifth line F and slur to E just below it. My embrochure muscles are really getting tired. The burning is gone now as I have adapted to it. But fatigue has definately set in and I start blowing hard. The last exercise of the page has 12 bars and ends of top line G.

    I would gladly send anyone the exercise by e-mail to give it a try. It is crazy hard but nothing has a greater impact on my tone, my range and endurance all at once. I love this exercise so much. If I had only "one" to do for the day because something happened in my schedule, this would be it. I think in total it lasts ten minutes with the 2 minute rests between each of the three progressive exercises on the page.

    BotherBACH
     
  8. craigph

    craigph Piano User

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    My son is preverbal. He turns 1 a week from Sunday and doesn't speak yet. (preverbal = prior to the developement of speech).

    "Corners are not round". In that sentence the word 'corners' is preverbal (preverbal = coming before the verb)

    Perhaps you intended to say "proverbial" (stereotypical, idiomatic), but I don't know any proverbs dealing with corners. :-)

    (n.b. I am a linguist)
     
  9. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

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    --and having worked on long tones last night - I mostly have soreness in the corners of my jaw. The only way for me to get good clear tones in the upper reg (up to 5th line F +) is by playing there -- I still ain't got the "its' easy" to play there -- like all these other guys say. But working on the upper reg and playing scales in 2 or 3 octaves is a great help --that is slowly and methodically. AND I have to keep this in perspective -- it's a comeback whereby in 25 months - I am way better than the previous 25 or so years of playing. Maybe I should have quit for 7 years a long long time ago.
     
  10. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

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    OK. That was funny. I did not notice that no matter how many times I read it. Can I blame automatic spell check and correct?

    BrotherBACH
     

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