How Do You Guys Feel About Taking Breaks

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Snorglorf, Dec 13, 2008.

  1. Snorglorf

    Snorglorf Pianissimo User

    Nov 13, 2008
    I play for roughly four hours a day, sometimes more (2-3 hours per day at school, whatever practice time I get in the evening), and I noticed that due to not practicing last night after jazz band, I could hit a High D this morning. My usual range is only about a Bb or a C, sometimes I get worn out and can only get a G or so. I've been playing for a bit more than a year (I keep posting this, sorry if you already know!).

    Would it be beneficial for me to take, say, an entire weekend off to give my chops a chance to rest and heal? I've been playing pretty every day until I'm too worn out to play any more for as long as I can remember. Is this going to be bad for me? Would I notice an improvement taking a few days off here or there? Day on, day off? Every weekend off?

    I have to be playing for a minimum of 2 hours on school days, because I tutor a music class and generally play with them. I've heard trumpet playing likened to weight lifting; that you can't do it all day every day.

    What's your take?

  2. Trumpet guy

    Trumpet guy Forte User

    Feb 9, 2008
    I've found that the best (for me) is to take a day off at least seven days before a major concert, usually a weekend, and work almost purely on fundamentals till 2 or 3 days before the performance, then run through the pieces a few times the last few days to ensure that my chops will work come performance day. Then I don't play the entire day of the performance until the warm-up (or at least not play within 6 hours before the performance).
  3. thebugleboy

    thebugleboy Pianissimo User

    Dec 10, 2008
    Deep South
    I've been on a break for the last 30 years. Works for me.
  4. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008
    Muscles need 24-48 hours to recover.

    I often take a day off completely, and I´ve found it very beneficial for my muscle development, range, endurance etc.
    Sometimes I even take two days off completely.
    More than two days off, on the other hand, has never done anything for me.

    When you start playing after two days of resting, you may not recognize the feeling of your embouchure emediately.
    This doesn´t mean that there has been anything wrong in resting; it simply means that you must warm up very carefully
    and wait for the right feeling to come back.

    In no other field where results are directly dependent upon muscles (sports etc.) do the performers subject their muscles
    to continous hard work day after day the way we trumpeters do.

    I can see three reasons why we do this:

    1) We are professional players, and have to play every day
    2) We just love playing, and can´t stay away from our horn(s)
    3) We are so eager to do the right thing (practise hard) and to
    reach our goals that we forget that the laws of muscle development
    also apply to lip muscles

    So, whenever you suspect that MAYBE taking a day off would be good,
    then take that day off and trust your instinct!
  5. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008
    Sorry, I meant; muscles need 48-72 hours to recover.
    24 hours is not enough.
  6. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    Playing until you are totally worn out every day, then taking time off to recover sounds kind of like binge drinking...maybe not the best way to take care of yourself.

    You might try making your daily practice sessions a little less exhausting. I don't mean not to push yourself, or to really reduce the time you spend practicing, but when you feel like your fundamentals are starting to go, range dropping, sound spreading, it's probably time for a break. Other people have different ideas about this sort of thing, but I think there's something to be said for training yourself to feel (relatively) fresh and strong even at the end of the session or day.

    Everyone has times that they're overworked and need a day to rest, but habitually pushing yourself to the point where you need those days off all the time is a warning sign. Eventually, and I know this from bitter experience, you'll need more rest and be able to practice less too. If you don't tear yourself down so much, you won't reach the point of "diminished returns" like I did.

    There are some excerizes where the point is to play to exhaustion, but it's kind of like heavy weight training. Best done under expert supervision, in moderation and not until your fundamentals are ready for that sort of thing.
  7. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    When tutoring your music class try playing less and the class playing a little more, the goal is for you to rest as long as you play, especialy when practicing at home ,a day off once in a while won`t hurt but its not necessary if you learn to pace yourself.
  8. Snorglorf

    Snorglorf Pianissimo User

    Nov 13, 2008
    When tutoring the music class, the teacher insists I play. I don't know if this is mostly because there isn't a trumpet player in the class already, or because he's just being finicky. But, that's life.

    Good advice boys and girls, thank you very much. I'll take this weekend off (although I don't know how I'll be able to bear it).

    Actually, that's probably a bad idea. I've got a performance on Monday. I'll do some gentle stuff tomorrow evening, just to see if my chops still work. :thumbsup:

    When I practice until I'm at breaking point, it's not like I'm doing anything extremely challenging for me. It's just that I do it so much that I break down. It's hard for me to take little breaks of not playing when I'm practicing because I don't ever feel like putting the horn down. :thumbdown:
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    you play that many hours a day and only have a Bb or C? I think the issue here is not breaks. You are doing something INCREDIBLY WRONG!

    Let's back up a bit: it is easy to make the trumpet a very physical activity. That is usually the way that most young players get into trouble.

    What do those hours of playing consist of? My recipe for time practicing is: 1/3rd long tones and slurs at pianissimo with no tonguing, 1/3rd tunes also played softly and 1/3rd things to make you technically better. If you have 3 hours a day, that would be an hour of each. The order is significant. NEVER practice music when your chops are wasted. Technical studies belong at the END of a session.

    I practice in half hour sessions and then take 15 minutes break. Very seldom do I take a day off. I don't normally beat myself up when playing so don't have much to recover from!

    A day off will not help you until you get your routine in order. I am not a high note advocate, but 3 hours a day sensibly spent produces killer chops within a month or so.

    Good luck!
  10. Snorglorf

    Snorglorf Pianissimo User

    Nov 13, 2008
    After a year I should be doing better than this? I don't spend all that time doing pure practicing, a lot of it's playing with my music class/band. I do long tones and lip slurs, but maybe not for an hour per day. Should I just skip the break and do this instead?

    My practice routine normally consists of 15-25 minutes of warm ups with long tones and slurs. After that I usually go straight to technical studies until I'm tired. Then I take a break, and rinse and repeat.

    Would you recommend a regimented schedule every day? Should I skip taking the break and just start working on developing a practice routine that doesn't ever involve me being worn out?

    Also: I have a pretty sizable overbite, so could this possibly be affecting my range?

    When you say never practice music with wasted chops, do you mean don't play songs, or put the trumpet down completely?

    EDIT: Can you post a video of what I should be going for with the pianissimo part of the routine?

    How quiet do I need to be? Quiet to the point of almost losing sound, or just quiet enough that I'm as quiet as I can go without dropping out of any notes into breathy nothingness?

    Do you have any specific slurring exercises I should be doing?

    EDIT2: After doing about 30-45 minutes of long tones and slurs at pianissimo, my range went up two semitones (or at least, I can make a E come out of my horn, which is higher than I've ever played). Thanks. I'm not just going for range without endurance and tone though! I'll stay out of the stratosphere for a little bit until I have control over it. :p
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2008

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