How to eliminate too much tension ??

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Mast, May 20, 2011.

  1. Mast

    Mast New Friend

    May 19, 2011
    I`m looking for some "quick relaxation" Ideas…

    Here`s my Situation:
    I play Lead Trumpet in a Big-Band and noticed that i build up tension in the upper Body if i have to play long phrases with little rests.
    For example if i play this tune:

    i play the solo on 2:08 (16 Bars), and then the main melody (8 Bars), 3.5 Bars Rest (at this time i`m already pretty tensed up), main melody (4 Bars), Break and then the Rubato Part. When it comes to the final notes (High G / F / G / F / A) i will usually master the phrase but it is then really hard work.If i`m too tensed i will miss the phrase.

    I noticed this phenomena also on less demanding pieces. It seems that on each inhale the tension increases a little. If there is enough rest (lets say 6 or 12 bars) then there is no excess tension.

    Therefore i`m asking for your advise how to get rid of tension if you have only 3 Bars (or less) rest…Or how to prevent that initial relaxation becomes excess tension.

    Would it be a good idea to add more body movement (I noticed for example that maynard used to tilt his head back during inhale) to reduce static tension ?

    Thank`s for any advise …

    A. Mast
  2. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    I don't know about others, but when this used to happen to me, it was because I was trying to take toobig a breath. By the time I played the phrase, and then exhaled the stale air,I would have to rush my next breath,instead of taking a relaxed one. So I would say it is a breathing problem. Practice these phrases very soft, and learn how much air you really need. This will also help relieve tension when you can see how easily you can play these notes.

    Another thing to remember. Play the high notes where their written. A lot of players will play those notes or figures mentally over and over ,before they physically have to, which causes tension to creep up on us.
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  3. Mast

    Mast New Friend

    May 19, 2011
    Hi Al Innella,

    yes, i recognise me in your words in both points...It tends to happen to me
    in improvisated solos as well, maybe the words from my teacher "Take a big breath !!!!" are too deeply hammered in my conciousness....

    When this happened to you, what was your way to deal with it in that (band/rehearsal) situation ?

  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003

    That mirrors the advice a friend and mentor gave me. He also believes that the amount of air you take in should match what is needed for the phrase, and that if you take in too much air it can create other problems, like adding tension, and creating an issue with stale air in your lungs because you can't get it all exhaled while playing before the next phrase. I tend to agree, although unless I have a long phrase where I know I'm going to have to tank up, I haven't really ever thought about it too much and I seem to follow that breathing concept naturally.
  5. The Kraken

    The Kraken Piano User

    Mar 28, 2007
    Gold Coast - 805
    I try to eliminate tension by practing sofly as possible!!

    especially as I ascend!!
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Soft does not necessarily equal less tension - for some people, especially as they ascend, it actually increases tension to try and play high and keep it soft.
  7. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    for me - octave slurs seem to help define this, and help to keep the embouchure from moving or tensing up. of course it takes lots of practice, and I still don't always get it on every practice (((and those days - I should just quit before I get frustrated -- but that's for another thread)))
    nice to hear from you Patrick
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Quick? Forget it.

    Playing tension is built over time. As anyone who has tried to quit smoking can tell you, changing habits is TOUGH.

    In addition, if you are playing reasonably well, changing anything "quickly" is a recipe for DESASTER!

    You need to evolutionize not revolutionize your playing. That normally happens by SLOWING DOWN. Divide your practice sessions into shorter, more patient sections. Always take a big breath before playing. Rest a lot. Get lessons from a really fine player. You will not solve this over the internet!
  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    The breath you take is key. I like to go under the perspective to store more breath than you need. In this way, you will be confident to have reserve. Then a word in that last sentence is key - confidence.

    Try to think through the phrase before you play it. Then hear it as played well. Know you can achieve this, maybe not 100% of the time, but it can be achieved. Relax (as you have all the air now stored to make it through) and play through your vision. Know the high range will be there so you relax you embouchure so that that the force of the column of air you have stored does most of the work.

    This mental and physical perspective will take the tendency of anxiety to to tense up you lip muscles beyond the tension actually needed, which then partially blocks the air column you need to do the work.

    This revelation will not come at the first attempt. Keep trying as the "bad habits" as mentioned by rowuk also need to be overcome. This will take time, but give it the right amount of time, and the balance you need will be achieved

    Or in the word of Yoda, “Time this will take. But the right amount of time give it. May the force (of the air column) be with you.”
    Last edited: May 22, 2011
  10. Ed Kennedy

    Ed Kennedy Forte User

    Nov 18, 2006
    Study Alexander Technique with an authorized teacher.

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