It's in my head, which is the biggest problem

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by VetPsychWars, May 28, 2013.

  1. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    So here's the deal. In the practice room, I can play exercises for hours and hours (with breaks, of course). Change to etudes or my band music, and all of the sudden I am throwing all sorts of weird crap into the mix, playing with buttloads of tension, and so tiring myself out after 15 minutes that making it through an hour concert is nearly impossible. I get glimmers of doing better sometimes, but I really need to work on this.

    I take occasional lessons from a trumpet professor at UW-Milwaukee, and I will be begging for any help he can give, but if any of you have had a similar issue, I would love to hear from you. It's definitely not mechanics... I can play "properly" if I'm playing out of a method book. I have some damn hangup in the head for sure and it frustrates me no end.

    I have until late September to figure this out before community band starts again, so let me know how you've gotten past this.

  2. AKtrumpet

    AKtrumpet Piano User

    Jun 4, 2010
    I used to have this problem. For me, focusing on the sound was key. Forget about any physical and mental anxieties and focus on getting your BEST sound.

    Stop playing when you lose sight of this great sound and go listen to a recording of your favorite trumpet player. Emulate him or her. For me, this means never exceeding 40 minutes of playtime without going to listen to music or simply resting.

    In this way, you will develop endurance that is consistent with the way you want to sound - more so you will develop it faster because a great sound is always in line with great habits.

    Record yourself and listen very closely to what you do and don't like in your playing.

    Finally, practice your ass off.
  3. kcmt01

    kcmt01 Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 25, 2009
    Polson, MT
  4. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    Playing at someone else's tempos, and not being able to stop and take breaks when you want can be a major headache. That, and lipping notes to blend with the intonation of a group can be a lot more tiring than practicing by yourself. On the mental side, confidence goes a long way in reducing tension while playing, which increases endurance. Practicing something well at home and playing it well "in the heat of battle" are very different things. Good luck with it.
  5. Comeback

    Comeback Forte User

    Jun 22, 2011
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Hip Shooting

    Merely hip shooting, Tom, but what might happen if you set exercises aside for a while and simply practice your pre-concert warm-up and then concert music for an hour? You could repeat this drill as often as you think appropriate during practice sessions until you have complete confidence in your concert capability. There is no chance that you are simply over-doing, is there? Good luck with this.

  6. edfitzvb

    edfitzvb Forte User

    Jun 10, 2008
    Woodlawn, VA
    Not being there, my guess would be that it very well might be a head issue. I find that my endurance suffers proportionately to my level of confidence. The higher the level, the less the problem, but the more anxiety the bigger the problem. There was a thread posted by Churchman about trumpet players' egos. It was right on. Without the confisdence and the expectation of success we are doomed. That being said, to get to that level will engender some humility from the sheer act of falling short. I live at the beach, and the surfers have a saying that goies like this: Success is getting up one more time than you fall.
  7. VentureScore

    VentureScore Pianissimo User

    Jan 24, 2013
    Anchorage, AK
    For me, when something like this happens, I'll a take sip of water, let mey body relax, and then play something that I KNOW I play with out tension. Long tones, short scale execises at the bottom of the staff etc.... this reminds my body what playing sans tension feels like. Then I go stright to the music that I was working on, without a break, carying over the relaxed sensation. I hope that makes sense.
  8. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    Re: Hip Shooting

    Tom, you have good advice so far, I will add my 2 cents, as Jim suggests I would leave the exercises and concert pieces and just play music, familiar tunes that you know and sing, Ivans Books are great, "Songs for playing" and "Melodies for playing".

    If you have someone you can play duets with this is very helpfull, 25 years ago I bought a French horn in a fit of mental abberation and then sought a teacher, I found a retired teacher that said the best thing for me was to play duets with him, and so we did for 2 years, never the same one twice, play through once then turn the page to the next. This did 3 things, improved my pitching, sight reading and forced me to keep with his timing.

    It takes time to build up confidence to just play something and not worry about it, I had this problem when I came back after a 36 year break, the first public performance of the concert band I joined playing 3rd trumpet it took most of the first line of a piece before I could the instrument to sound at all.

    Now 27 years later I have lost the fear and play 1st and 2nd books in big band, playing 3-4 hour dinner dances.

    Stick with it and make it enjoyable.

    Regards, Stuart.
  9. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    I have decided to budget $150 a month for lessons, which comes out to two hour-long lessons a month. I shared this thread with the teacher, as mentioned a professor at University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee, and some other background, including my lack of formal instruction. It's true: everything I ever learned was from imitation and "make it sound like this".

    As I play so much better with my back off of the chair, I will be playing that way whenever I can. Not easy with arthritis throughout the spine and degenerative disk disease, but I'll find a way to make it work. Also considering a lumbar support to add to the chair.

    Pretty embarrassing to have to say "what do you mean by tonguing? Tell me what you want me to actually do," but there it is. By the end of the lesson I sounded a lot better and I am in much better spirits. I have a guideline for how to split my practice period between what he called warmup/maintenance, etudes/music learning, and what I will call "music for fun". I also have an assignment for the next couple weeks before the next lesson.

    Also a major thumbs up for the equipment; my Model 228 Lightweigiht 400 and Buescher Duo-Cup 88-E were play-tested and approved.

    It occurs to me that there is no reason not to share the teacher with all; if you're in southeastern Wisconsin and you need someone, you might check him out:

    Kevin Hartman

    It is my goal to be a lot improved before community band starts again in late September.

  10. Comeback

    Comeback Forte User

    Jun 22, 2011
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Best wishes, Tom. It seems you are on track for real improvement! I see that Kevin Hartman spent time in Fort Wayne, too.

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