Humidity vs. Chops

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by stewmuse, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. stewmuse

    stewmuse Pianissimo User

    Apr 28, 2004
    NW Chicago
    Ladies & Gentlemen -

    After playing many outdoor (and indoor) gigs this summer, I'm finding that my chops really respond poorly in humid conditions, especially if I'm sweating. Last evening was a perfect example.

    I had two very strong evenings on Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday, I drank lots of water all day to keep hydrated, played about two hours of warm-up and light technical stuff. While warming up last night (Sunday) for the gig, I was in a cooler and dry room away from the stage area. Things felt REALLY good and I was sure a good performance was in order.

    Going up to the performance, I put on my coat, sat down and started to get really warm quite quickly. By the downbeat, I was already wiping my face and forehead (as were several other folks in the band). For the first 40 minutes, it was a real struggle to make things work. When I "suddenly" got cooler (AC turned on???), things went decidedly better.

    This seems to be a wholly physical problem. I don't get nervous when playing (yes, occasional moments during extra difficult passages or solos on gigs, etc., but not as a general rule). I'm looking for ideas that those of you who have experienced this type of thing might be able to share in how to limit the effects of humidity on your chops. Thanks!
  2. Liad Bar-EL

    Liad Bar-EL Forte User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Jerusalem, Israel
    You know that the mind is a very power tool to use if you know what to do and this may take a lot of concentration and practice for this problem that you mentioned is not just a physical problem.

    The next time you are faced with such a humid hot condition, instead of thinking and feeling how hot and humid it is, for this will only exacerbate the condition and make it even more intolerable, do this. Sincerely think and remember and try to feel the coldest time/place that you experienced while playing the trumpet and see if this does not help cool you down.

    You might using an executive desk fan to attach to your stand for this might help a little; but, remember that you should be thinking that this fan is doing wonders.

    Berrrrrrrrrr!!!!!! It's cold outside...........(99.9 degrees).:D

    Liad Bar-EL
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2006
  3. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    Does any of this have anything to do with whether you happen to be a dry chop or wet chop person?

  4. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    I hate playing under the conditions that you described but I don't think it affects my physically.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I had a 10 day concert tour to Italy at the end of July. 100 degrees plus the whole time and varying humidity. I noticed that my concentration took a lot more energy and that I had to work harder to play(salty sweat on the chops is never comfortable). I didn't really think about it much. I play with moist lips.
    Sound travels differently in warm moist air - you probably heard yourself differently and tried subconsciously to compensate - in addition to the energy sapped by your body trying to cool itself down.
  6. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    I'd say I have more of a problem with heat than humidity, although the combination is worse than either alone. Obviously, if sweat is running down your face and the mouthpiece is sliding around, that's not good. But even if that's under control, I don't play my best if I'm burning up and uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable can involve things other than heat and humidity, too. An outfit that doesn't fit correctly, a badly-shaped chair, a small, cramped stage - all these things make me work harder to play well. Too many distractions. Throw in heat and humidity, and I'm toast! I think lip swelling is accelerated by heat. Dehydration can give you dry mouth. And in extreme conditions, the onset of heat exaustion can slow your brain processing the music. I've become so hot in a Summer, outdoor gig (wearing a wool Civil war uniform) that I couldn't make my fingers move fast enough to play the music I was reading. Time to find some water and air conditioning!
  7. rjzeller

    rjzeller Forte User

    Mar 7, 2005
    Rochester, MN
    The humidity bothers me, too...but not because of anything it does to my chops (at least, no directly). The humidity really gives me the fits breathing normally (slightly asthmatic), and once I start struggling for air, it's all an uphill battle at that point.

    Perhaps it's affecting your breathing?
  8. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Manny asked his question for a very good reason. If we play with a dry embouchure (like this Vulgano Brother) endurance sucks when the lips sweat, and this is the bad news. The good news is that this is a great way to save time when trying to work for exhaustion when practicing, leaving time for another shower. Don't melt!
  9. Liad Bar-EL

    Liad Bar-EL Forte User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Jerusalem, Israel
    Well, I have found that if I am going to sweat, I may as well enjoy it and have the other around enjoy it also. I do not use anti-perspiring stick of some sort for they really cause more problems than what it is worth in terms of clogging up the pores and other canals in that area. I use a good smelling cologne.
  10. stewmuse

    stewmuse Pianissimo User

    Apr 28, 2004
    NW Chicago
    I tend to play "semi-wet." That is, I lightly lick my lips and the mouthpiece before playing. It definitely feels "too wet" when playing in high humidity. My chops also feel like they "don't fit." They also feel puffy inside the mouthpiece, like they are wilting in the humidity. Dry mouth does not usually accompany this.

    Last edited: Sep 19, 2006

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