Is Stress Related to a Sudden Decrease in Tone Quality?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by RHSbigbluemarchingband, Jun 10, 2009.

  1. RHSbigbluemarchingband

    RHSbigbluemarchingband Mezzo Piano User

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    Alright, the majority of you have been and possibly are under stress. This year has been over the top with school work, family issues, and yadayadayada. I held it off pretty well, but I finally hit my breaking point when my grandfather passed away about a month ago. I noticed when I came back to playing my tone was literally crap. No other way to put it. A month ago my tone matched the first chair's, nice and clean. Now its just dirty, mushy, and to tell the truth not mine. I have been having more stress piling on, and I notice that my tone is just decreasing and decreasing every day. I do my long tones and slurs everyday, its been the same routine for as long as I can remember, but all of a sudden my hard work seems to have been thrown away. Is stress related to this sudden decrease in tone quality? Also we have to play at graduation and we NEED to sound good, so does anyone here have any suggestions as to how I might be able to fix this problem?
     
  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Sorry to hear about your grandfather, RHSbigbluemarchingband.

    Stress, in itself, can be, in itself, either a positive or negative thing--like nervouseness and excitement, there are two two sides of the same coin.

    I would suggest something kinda weird. Let the ugliness out! You've been through some ugly stuff, and are probably feeling ugly, so against all common wisdom, embrace it and learn to control and master it.

    Symphonic literature is full of nasty, ugly things, and some listening might be in order. The third movement of Hindemith's Mathis der Maler is a prime example. (The first movement is pure 'georgeousity and bliss.') Death and Transfiguration by Strauss has a great moment when the three trumpets play a chorale--it brought tears to the eyes of our second trombonist, who was fighting (and losing to) cancer.

    I would suggest that the ugliness in your tone has more to do with what you are going through than what and how you've been practicing. Your trumpet is expressing what is going on inside.

    Grap ahold! Make it sound uglier at will, and when you have mastered ugly, you will know more about beauty.

    All the best.
     
  3. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

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    Stress can (understandably) cause lots of tension, both mental and physical, and that tension can infect your sound pretty easily. Some musicians find relief from stress IN music, some find it AWAY from music. Only you know what will work for you, but I've always been the second kind. Go out and play catch with a friend, go to the driving range and try to hit it 400 yards, those things always help me get the "uglyness" out. When I'm not playing my best, sometimes an afternoon, or even a day away from the trumpet lets me come back with a healthier perspective.

    As for "needing" to sound good for graduation, forget about the "need" part, that'll only cause you more stress! You know that you can sound good, you've done it before, just trust yourself and LET yourself sound great. Easier said than done, I know, but something to think about.
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    RHS,
    we can talk ourselves into anything.

    Certain things we cannot leave behind us (my mom died 29 years ago of cancer at a very early age), so we need to turn them into assets. I play to my mom pretty often when I am on stage. Just because they are dead does not mean that there is no "communication" possible.

    Make your grandfather proud of you! He wouldn't have wanted it any different.

    Get back to that daily routine that I have posted here a hundred times. The road back has more to do with your attitude than the outside circumstances.

    Start by playing "HIS" favorite tunes. It is easier than we want to believe!

    If this is of any help, I don't believe that people die. Only their bodies die. We learn in physics that energy is never lost. That "Life Energy" goes somewhere. We can be content in knowing that the essence of that person is eternal!

    Robin
     
  5. RHSbigbluemarchingband

    RHSbigbluemarchingband Mezzo Piano User

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    Jan 17, 2009
    Thanks for that advice, best advice I have ever gotten. I know the night he did die we had a concert, and the hymn, according to my director, was played by me like he never heard before and that the emotion in it was stronger then ever. But now its just so many things adding on top of that from more issues to the normal finals. So I guess your playing really does express how you feel, doesn't it?
     
  6. RHSbigbluemarchingband

    RHSbigbluemarchingband Mezzo Piano User

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    Jan 17, 2009
    Also music is my stress reliever. I don't know if any of you remember that thread I started a while back when I practiced for well over 9 hours. When I play my trumpet or piano for that instance, I feel it allows me to tell my story through a different method. Plus it is just plain old fun. It really is the best medicine. But now my trumpet doesn't even sing like it used to.
     
  7. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    Some people would say stress is a sign of weakness. To this I say Bull****.
    When we play, that is the time we generally remove worldly things and focus on the beauty of sound. It is our religion, our escape........our sanctuary.

    Sometimes worldly things get into our secret place and we have to figure out how to deal with it. How do we play (sincerely) with the world's problems swishing in our heads? I wish I knew, I still have problems with it from time to time.

    As for me, I've been playing for a long time and have went through many of the major disasters most people my age have experienced and here's what I do know. The suckiness will pass if you just hang in there and keep playing.
    Learning to confront the dragons of life on your own personal level and still get joy from playing is not always easy. Playing music is our secret place where we express our feelings (both good and bad) through sound. Maybe playing music is the thing that heals people like us.

    However, be forwarned!! after reading this, some of the health nuts on this site will boo hoo what I just wrote and advocate excercise as the only way to get rid of stress.
    To a certain extent I have to agree with them. In fact I've jumped on the exercise bandwagon and in the process of hitting the gym, I've discovered an excercise that always seems to impress the opposite sex. I do pull ups.
    I pull up in a Mercedes, a Rolls, or a Ferrari.
    Hopefully this brought a little smile to your face.

    Just hang in there and express your feelings through your horn. We learn as much (if not more) from the hard times as the good. Good Luck
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2009
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, it does. It always sings YOUR song. The horn is out of metal. WE are the flesh and blood. YOU need to get your brain out of analysis mode for a while. Add more tunes to your daily routine. Stop talking yourself out of doing a good job.
     
  9. RHSbigbluemarchingband

    RHSbigbluemarchingband Mezzo Piano User

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    Jan 17, 2009
    Well today I got a big 300 word vocab final off my head, and my head immediately cleared up a bit. Then today during band, I kept this advice in mind, and I started playing with the confidence I did a couple weeks ago. My sound wasn't spectacular, but better then earlier. Like you said Rowuk, I decided to put on a show for my grandpa. It worked, I was thrilled. My trumpet sound at the end when my head finally started to react to the feeling of really playing my trumpet, my sound came back. I got a rehearsal from 6:30 to 8:00 tonight, and I plan to keep the above advice in my head again. Also I played what a wonderful world today while I was waiting to start, and the emotion in it was so strong. I wish I was like this when I played it as a solo last year! More people then just both my grandfathers probably would of cried.
    Anyway I thank you for the great advice once more, and hopefully I can get out of this rut.
     
  10. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    (Pssst! Don't tell anyone this, RHSbigbluemarchingband, but I think you might be turning into a musician!)
     

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