Initial Attack Anxiety

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by tylertrumpet, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. peteb

    peteb New Friend

    Dec 16, 2009
    Greeley, CO
    A couple of other thoughts.
    First and most important (in my opinion) is to have a very vivid mental "picture" (?) of the sound you want to make. One of my former teachers told me that the trumpet in my head needed to be louder than the one I was holding in my hands. If you don't have a musical idea of what you want to sound like, a lot of bad can happen. I know from experience.
    Second, and I think you recognize this already, is that you need to take in a very relaxed and natural breath. There should be no stopping of the air flow between breathing in and breathing out - like you naturally breathe. The only difference is that the exhalation is going to have more energy behind it.
    With regard to performance anxiety, you may also want to check out a couple of books by Don Greene ( Don Greene Ph.D., Performance Mastery Trainer | Helping Musicians overcome their fear during Audition ).
    All that said, one can suffer from 'paralysis by analysis', as I tend to do. Again, I think that it is most important to have a solid musical idea in place first, then go from there. That's just my thoughts - coming from somebody who really is a nobody right now...
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    the first tone is a change of state for your body and lip tissue. It is "normal" that players have problems there. With that in mind, we need a strategy to compensate (notice that I did not say solve).

    Let's look at what happens: we inhale, exhale through our lips that start to "vibrate". That vibration sets up a standing wave in the instrument. What leaks out is transformed to a louder state by the bell. That sound then travels through the room, bounces off of the walls and returns to your ears, that then send the sound impression to your brain. Your brain thinks about what it heard and makes decisions what to tell your lips to change what it hears into what it wants.

    Looking at that entire big and long process, you may start to understand that practicing in a small room lets the reflected sound return VERY quickly. That haunts you in a bigger room! Another problem with small rooms is that a lot of high frequencies are fed immediately back to the ears. You can measure the size of the room and divide by the speed of sound. Any reflections returning to you ears in less than 10 milliseconds will confuse your brain (mine too)!

    Now you go into a bigger room, the sound takes MUCH longer to return to your ears and loses a fair amount of overtones on the way. Being creatures of habit, our brains get confused and we crack notes.

    I believe what I just wrote is the main reason why many players get into trouble-not enough playing in reasonably sized acoustic spaces!

    Habits are built by THOUSANDS of repetitions.

    My advice to you: long tones with no tongue attack: Inhale/exhale. Lipslurs with no tongue attack: Inhale/exhale.
    Play/practice in rooms like you will have for the recital or bigger as often as possible.
    ALWAYS exhale DEEPLY before you take your initial breath
    Start practicing the Torelli without the tongue. Inhale then exhale the first high concert A. Stay relaxed - only inhale/exhale!!!!!!

    If you prepare slowly and logically, there is no reason to visit a shrink or take beta blockers. Inhale/exhale. Once you can play without the tongue, add only enough to make the attack sharp and positive. Articulation is what makes a fine speaker or musician shine.

    Anxiety is not a sickness, it is a symptom. Fix the problem by knowing the processes, accepting the difficulties and be willing to compensate for the sake of the show. You will do just fine. Once things start going smoother, REWARD yourself for a job well done, a candlelight dinner (for 2?), massage, a non-trumpet concert, a day off, a 60 minute bath..............................
  3. saxamattone

    saxamattone New Friend

    Oct 2, 2009
    I found Barry Green's book "The Inner Game of Music" to be really effective in helping people who are struggling with mind games in their playing.

    I for the most part (99% of the time) play with a breath-dah technique which is essentially breathing and starting the note in one seamless motion and not "capping" the breath.
  4. Nikv

    Nikv Pianissimo User

    Jun 20, 2009
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Flow, don't blow!
    As a trumpet player, you are, dare I say it, a wind-bag.

    Your purpose is to get the wind as calmly and efficiently in and out of your body as possible.

    That sounds to me like there is a build up of pressure in your mouth and upper throat before you play. Don't "open up" or anything, as people like to say.

    Just relax, and let the warm air flow out of your mouth directly from your stomach to the end of your horn as if you were doing nothing.

    But don't try too hard to relax, because then you'll be doing too much, again.

    Do some breath attacks with this all in mind, and then move your tongue in and out of the way before the note starts.

    Then again, I don't really know if this is your problem...

  5. tlc9988

    tlc9988 New Friend

    Jan 5, 2010
    Don't think of any of the mechanics. Just pick up the horn and play. A great exercise to do is sing the lick in pitch and then play it. Music comes from our soul, don't let mechanics get in the way. Another way I think of it is whistling - it just works.

  6. tylertrumpet

    tylertrumpet New Friend

    Jan 5, 2010
    South Dakota
    Thanks for all the advice. I started my practice out today with some breath attacks on the mouthpiece and some long tones on the horn. I am hoping some daily exercise and healthier living habits will also help me out with my anxiety on the horn.
  7. oldenick

    oldenick Pianissimo User

    Apr 10, 2007
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015

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