I am stuck in range and endurance...

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by stfnylim, Jul 30, 2015.

  1. stfnylim

    stfnylim New Friend

    Sep 8, 2014
    Hello I am an incoming junior in high school and a section leader. The thing is, I think I am having issues with either my overbite (downstream) playing,playing with too much pressure or both. I am stuck on the range of hitting an A right above the staff and not even consistently. Or even after playing about 2 lines of a first part song my tone goes downhill and I can't play well at all untill I rest about 30 seconds (then it repeats.)

    I don't know what to do because I was in wind symphony (the top group) but due to schedule conflicts I am probably going to be in symphonic band first chair playing all those solos and first parts in which I can't even play a full song... I have tried ALL the youtube videos out there about trumpet and practiced hours consistently throughout days, and even have (hard to admit..) cried over frustration because I feel like I can't fix my problem with playing. Now I am stuck with the reputation that I am a good player but I'm not because I only made it in to the top group for my sight reading skills. The pressure of the whole band feels so heavy with all these expectations... I really want to just PLAY A SONG without my lips feeling like jello after 5 seconds when I can actually finger and read the music perfectly...

    I have asked my dad about private lessons a while back but it didn't seem like he was very supportive. Maybe I should ask again? But I don't konw if I can start back to square one with so little time. Oh and I have all these AP classes and club activities so I will not have a lot of time to actually practice, but if I do have time itll be on saturday. BUT!! the thing is, I REAAALLY LOVE BAND. It's just amazing. I don't want to quit because my band has been to the rose parade and a lot together.

    Thank you for reading my frustrations on life and yeah.. please help.
  2. Haste2

    Haste2 Piano User

    Jun 16, 2010
    YES, take private lessons.

    But if not, at least take some of the following advice. I would suggest playing 3rd trumpet on a temporary basis (and even then, take it easy... lay off frequentlyduring rehearsal). Do short, light practice sessions (perhaps doing Clarke's, scales, easy tunes....). Start with one short session. Don't even think about thinking about your embouchure. After a week or two, progress to two or three sessions a day. Once you're feeling comfortable there, gradually increase your practice sessions and your chops will get there! You'll need to practice most every day, five days a week minimum (even if it's just ten minutes some days). Don't let your busyness prevent you from practicing daily.
  3. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    You mentioned playing with too much pressure - I presume you mean mashing the horn too hard against your lips. I used to do that and nobody told me not to, and it took me quite a long time to feel I was making any progress as a good player (tone, endurance etc).
    I came across this web-page (among others) which helped me: Reduce Trumpet Mouthpiece Pressure
    I really focussed on easing off the pressure after that and have mentioned this in previous posts:


    Good luck, I hope you work it out

  4. Ufachotchin

    Ufachotchin Pianissimo User

    May 19, 2014
    Youngstown, Ohio, USA
    I'm in sort of the same situation as you right now.
    I'm also a Junior this year and am one of the "stronger" players so much is expected from me. I'm also in AP classes and I do sports year round.
    The schedule can get intense and I too stress out about how I'll keep it all together. What you need is a break.
    Take a day or a weekend off. Don't do schoolwork, don't play trumpet, and don't stress. Just listen to your favorite tunes and remember why you fell in love with music in the first place. You'll come back in a better mood and you'll be prepared to make music.
    Furthermore, the rest will give your face muscles time to rebuild. Your body needs time to metabolize all the wastes produced from exertion. Athletes go on cycles of harder and easier training so there's no reason you should be exhausting your face day after day.
    Best of luck,
    Nick DiGiacomo
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Welcome to TM, stfnylim! Do you slide your lower lip behind your upper lip when playing higher?
  6. stfnylim

    stfnylim New Friend

    Sep 8, 2014
    Haste2 :Okayyy thank you so much!! Yes I will try to get lessons and try some of your advice ;] I will get back to you on results.

    Ufachotchin : Thanksssss it's good to konw I am not alone. I will definitely try getting a break.

    Vulgano Brother : Yes I slide my lower lip behing my upper lip but not exactly when I get higher, I just always played like that. I think it's pretty noticeable though because it looks like I'm tilting my head back.

    bumblebee : Thaaaank youuu yes I will try looking into the website ;]]]

    Thank you all for your super quick replies. It's a great help
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    We are what we repeatedly do. Range problems, endurance problems are only symptoms of something much deeper.

    I will go on record saying that the internet will not help you solve the real problem, even if it helps identify what is really wrong.

    What you report is very typical of three things: bad body use, bad breathing and no daily routine. You don't necessarily need private lessons, I got my start almost 50 years ago with a really great music teacher/band director.

    The first thing is to forget the internet. It is NOT your friend. There is so much contradictory information that it is impossible for a player NOT in the know to sort through. What you need is a consistent practice routine that you play ever day. You need someone to monitor your breathing and body use!

    The practice routine for a school section leader is at least one hour every day - better would be 2 hours. The routine starts with breathing exercizes, then long tones, then lip slurs, scales, then easy tunes like from a hymnbook or fakebook. This fills 40-50 minutes. After that, a short break is useful to regenerate. Then comes technical studies, range builders and repertory.

    I always find it interesting that the cries for help are always so late. You don't have this problem since yesterday, you knew 4 weeks ago what the next school year had in store. Can I even assume that you are passionately connected to the trumpet?

    What I outlined above is not a 4 week crash course. Without hearing you play, without knowing how dedicated that you are, without seeing your current bad habits, we have no idea if you need 3, 6 months or years. That is why local help is essential for improving. A good teacher, regardless if it is the band leader or a private teacher can locate the problems and offer a structured path to improvement. Without that type of guidance, someone has to be pretty analytical to figure out themselves what they are doing incorrectly and pretty disciplined to stick with hard stuff and concepts.

    If I get a student with playing issues like you describe, I normally block all ensemble playing for at least 2 or 3 months to give the player a chance to build a solid base that doesn't get destroyed in the first rehearsal. After that time, it is pretty much clear what THEY really want and what can be expected. Success is not built in days and weeks, rather months and years.

    Good luck.

    p.s. you may want to search for my Circle of Breath here at TM. It is my recipe for basic breathing and evolution instead of revolution.
  8. redintheface

    redintheface Pianissimo User

    Nov 8, 2010
    Bath, UK
    Welcome, Stfnylim! Well done for having the courage to post about your problems here.

    I echo much of what has already been said, but I'll add a few more words. Try not to take ROWUK's words too harshly. He writes very plainly, and he's got VERY good advice. He never minces his words, he tells it like it is. R'spec. But sometimes I've noticed it can come across as a bit grumpy. ROFL Please don't take him that way (even if he actually IS grumpy!)

    Having said that, I was in your position when I was a junior in High School. I was in a marching band, and in order to keep the trumpet on my lips, I HAD to use a lot of pressure. We weren't taught to "glide" when we were marching, so everything just went up and down, if there was no pressure, there was no playing!

    This naturally screwed up any good habits I might have been taught about using minimal pressure - just enough to keep a good seal, but not so much as to feel the mouthpiece on my teeth!

    You do face a difficult task, if I have read your posts correctly - you have commitments, but fear that you won't be up to the grade. Taking time off (and I agree with Rowuk, you'll need at least 3 months) doesn't seem to be a very easy thing to do, but quite honestly, it's by far the best thing to do. Yes, you might have to go down to fourth chair. Yes, you might lose some respect for 1 year as you retrain your embouchure and breathing habits, and can't keep the commitments everyone ELSE wants you to keep. But over a year or more (and let's face it, you've got the whole of high school ahead of you), you'll come back stronger, better, and much much more secure in both your playing, and yourself. And if you are really doing it right, you'll likely surpass the level you are at by a long way, and gain far more respect than you ever would have.

    You will need a good teacher, ask them questions specifically about your problem before you agree to a lesson. And then stick with their advice.

    Good luck!
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I'm going to jump in here with a thought or two.

    For starters, Rowuk is usually spot-on with his assessments, and there's a reason for this: decades of pro-level playing in the trenches, and decades of teaching where all manner of chops issues have been seen and addressed.

    But, sometimes I see things a bit differently than Rowuk - he tends to see things very much in a black/white way, so he'd contend that since you haven't done anything before now then you obviously aren't passionate about either music, or the trumpet. What I think he sometimes fails to see is that not all kids approach things the same way, and not everyone has the wherewithal or self-discipline to actively address problems in a timely manner. Having just raised two teenagers of my own, I know all too well how a kid can (and does) procrastinate on all manner of things - they just haven't developed the tools and self-discipline that successful adults have. My son is a great example - he's a talented musician in his own right, but he has an approach to his instrument and music that is markedly different than the structured way I approach it.

    So, with that out of the way, I think that there are some things you can learn and do, but you have to be careful about what you see and hear on the internet. Forget about learning anything quickly or finding a quick fix to this issue. Without seeing you or hearing you, I'd bet that there are some fundamental, yet common problems with your playing, and the only way to fix those is to go back to square one to work basics and fundamentals, and the results you are seeking won't happen in a week or two - it's probably going to take the better part of your junior year, and you'll have to dedicate yourself to it. Some of it you "could" do yourself - doing soft long tones to reduce mouthpiece pressure is not rocket science, but you may not make much progress if you do this work in a vacuum. I'm not saying you need long-term study with a private teacher, but a few lessons to get you headed in the right direction is definitely going to be money well spent.

    Regarding your father and private lessons, do you need his support to merely do them, or only for him to pay for them? If it's a money thing, get off of your butt, go scrounge some side work somewhere (mow laws, offer to do some landscaping or yard work for neighbors, etc) and earn the money yourself. If you have to pay for these lessons yourself, you'll be much more likely to take them seriously than if your Dad foots the bill.

    Again, you're going to have to take it back to basics - soft long tones, simple articulation exercises, basic flexibilities - you need to solidify the foundation of your chops because that's where the problem is. You need to rebuild the chops from the ground up, and develop a daily routine so you set your chops up for success.
  10. mgcoleman

    mgcoleman Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 22, 2010
    That piece of advice is, well....money!

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