High school trumpet player needs help with air leaking

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Elizabeth, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth New Friend

    Nov 24, 2008
    Hi, My son is a HS junior trumpet player playing for the last 7 years and this year durring marching band season he developed a problem. When he tries to play real high and loud the air leaks out his nose. He said it happened a little this past summer at a music camp where he was playing for many hours every day for a week. Then about 3 weeks ago it became worse when he was playing alot for marching band and concert band. He was also switching trumpets, his old student yamaha for marching band and his Bach for the concert band practice. He is very frustrated with his playing now and I don't know how to help him. Should I take him to a doctor? Is there a way to adjust his playing? Any help would be very useful. Thanks
  2. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    You don't say if he has a private teacher. That would be my first move. After the teacher works with him then I would decide about a doctor. He may be doing something in his playing that is causing him to do this. Find a good private teacher.
  3. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth New Friend

    Nov 24, 2008
    He had a private teacher in the summer for a few lessons and today he has a lesson with him to see if he can help with this problem. This teacher usually only gives lessons in the summer because he is to busy but i hope he can help him with this. Has anyone ever heard of this problem? It's affecting his ability to play high notes.
  4. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    Unfortunately there are too many variables at play to give you a diagnosis over the internet. Should be something that his teacher should be able to identify pretty quickly, so your son should have some more information tonight.
  5. Ed Kennedy

    Ed Kennedy Forte User

    Nov 18, 2006
    I would try a few tests to see if the problem is a physical injury or disability or a bad habit. Have him hold a large breath and see if he can make controlled releases of the air pressure through his nose. If he can accomplish this I would have him notice how it feels when the nose is closed and when it is open, and focus on the closed feeling while practicing, perhaps some scales that take him towards the upper register. If he can't control it then he should probably see a doctor.
  6. nordlandstrompet

    nordlandstrompet Forte User

    Apr 5, 2008
    May be the answer is located in your question?

    When overdoing the playing, this has happened to me too.
    Especially when taking up the instrument after a couple of days off.

    If the air leaks only come in the busy periods, he probably do the same as me:
    Overdoing the things.

    I've experienced that the only way to avoid this, is to take a break
    when the problems starts, and go back to business the next day.

    Sounds logical?
  7. trumpetlore

    trumpetlore Pianissimo User

    Apr 14, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    A break would likely be a good idea.


    "Bad habits never last long under the harsh light of steady observation"
    -James Thompson
  8. Darrien

    Darrien Pianissimo User

    Nov 27, 2008
    St Vincent (West Indies)
    A similar thing has happend to me when playing at the high end of my range after the chops have gone and I keep trying to force it. It feels like the air starts forcing back in the oral cavity and then the pressure tries to release through the sinuses i.e nose.

    Think it might be the body's warning to back off a bit. Maybe he should just try not to overexert himself for a while.

    I'm no expert, just an opinion.
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I am pretty sure it is just a sign of stress.

    Just get him playing quiet long tones and slurs. As a matter of fact, he just needs to practice extremely softly. That and a big breath will most likely cure the problem in a couple of weeks.

    Air always travels where there is the least resistance. If you are tense and your upper body is blocked, the air will find alternate paths. Getting that tension down will fix most problems.

    If your boy needs additional info, he can PM me.
  10. smoothjazzhorn

    smoothjazzhorn New Friend

    Dec 14, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Hi Elizabeth,

    Sounds like the classic back-pressure problem...I had the same problem many years ago. He is closing his throat (whether consciously or sub-consciously) and the only way the excess air can escape is through the nasal cavity. It is probably due to straining too hard (as another poster pointed out). The only solution: R-E-L-A-X the throat muscles, judicious use of long tones and "light-duty" playing to rediscover the correct way to play. When in doubt, strip it back down to the basics & start over. After that, for soundly developing the high range, use exercises from musicians/authors like:

    Randy Brooks, Ken Saul, Mark Van Cleave, Clint "Pops" McLaughlin, Jerome Callet, etc.

    Good luck & hope that helps!


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