Looking for omments and thoughts about playing softly...

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by coolerdave, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    Looking for Comments and thoughts about playing softly...

    okay, awhile back I posted some questions about lip slurs. I recieved some pretty good suggestions and think I have a better understanding about why practicing softly is important.
    Even in my better playing days I never was able to do lip slurs fast without a lot of movement in my jaw. So I recieved advice that I should work on this playing softly and trying not to move the jaw. What I found out is that when I play softly I use less pressure. I always played with quite a bit but my endurance help up and I could generally play complex pieces so none of my instructors messed with it.
    I am starting to think that the pressure is what caused the lack of flexibility. I am also thinking that in the long run less pressure will translate to increase range and endurance.
    Is that the general jist of my playing softly is reccomended?
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2011
  2. xjb0906

    xjb0906 Piano User

    May 2, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    Ask Rowuk. ;-)
  3. LH123

    LH123 Piano User

    May 14, 2010
    The way that I understand it is that playing softly does two things: allows you to play with less strain on the embouchure (less pressure), so that you can play for longer periods of time without getting tired, and helps you develop the lip control that is needed for upper register playing.
  4. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    It is virtually impossible to play at a true ppp with ANY tension in your gut. Tension anywhere KILLS proper air flow which is paramount to all aspects of playing. Especially at ppp levels.
    Try this. With a tightened stomach, take in a breath, start on C below the staff and at ppp go down chromatically until you hit low F# then go back up to low C.
    Can't do it with the tight gut?
    Now let your stomach go out on its own (a relaxed breath intake) and try the same thing. Everything should come out at ppp with a very smooth sound.
    Every teacher worth his/her salt will teach pianissimo playing with no tension. You cannot learn to properly play this instrument at fortissimo volumes without
    learning to play at pianissimo levels first. A proper breath will allow the stomach to go out on its own. A breath filled with tension will not fill the lower level of the lungs properly and will result in tension and poor air flow.
    Clarke studies, DONE AS HE SUGGESTS, will build this foundation. Chicowicz Flow Studies - as will other properly written studies - can and will help take this foundation to other levels. You cannot build a strong brick wall with inferior bricks. The wall will never be strong nor long lasting.
    There is much BS about this horn or that mouthpiece on this and other websites and it can be quite fun (often hilarious) to see what is said about horns and mouthpieces, but it doesn't matter what horn/mouthpiece one uses if a solid, technical breathing foundation is not in place.
    Mendez said if you want to play loud, you must learn to play soft first. Yeah, its hard work to play softly but the rewards are you become a better player and musician. Some of the most beautiful trumpet playing is done a very quiet levels - both in solos and orchestral playing. The same holds true in jazz.
    I truly believe if more players on this site explored the websites of GREAT players and read their philosophies and suggestions instead of looking for answers at websites from some folks here whose attributes are questionable at best, one just might be better off.
    Rich T.
    coolerdave likes this.
  5. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    Learning to play softly gives dynamics to your playing ...... Trumpets are pretty easy to play loudly. Working on your dynamic range makes the most sense when you practice playing very quietly. When you've got that, and a good loud sound, you've got great range. That should be reason enough to work on it. The neighbors are another.:dontknow:

  6. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    I am very fortunate... my neighbors actually tell me they like my playing .... I haven't heard them whistling any Clarke studies though.
    I get the dynamic thing.. very true .... and yes there is a wealth of information from the greats. I just had this break though in trying to get the lips slurs acoss the partials ... playing soft.. less presure.. voila .... was just wondering if what I was thinking was in the right direction
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I do not teach "less pressure". I teach to float the notes on air. That is exactly the use of my circle of breath - don't undo anything, rather do it right the first time. Inhale-exhale - inhale play - no tongue to get the longtone or slur started. The notes float on air and are much easier. Reduce to the basics, divide and conquer.
  8. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    sounds like something I can incorporate into my warmup and slurring exercises pretty easily. I have tried to duplicate the effect of a warm bath that you recommend to your new students by using some thought relaxing exercises. I can see how the exhale before the second inhale helps in the relaxing concept. cool thx
  9. AaronPlaysTrumpet

    AaronPlaysTrumpet New Friend

    Jul 7, 2011
    Playing softly can act like a microscope to exam the finer points fundamentals (specifically airflow and lip buzz). But how you think about it in the moment has a huge impact on your long-term progress.

    When practicing softly, always think first and foremost about your air. Focus on having a steady airstream that is always moving forward with enough support that the notes (as Rowuk said) can float on it. If you're relaxed and playing with good support (a phrase I've heard a few times is "Breathe forte, play piano"), and if your airstream is constantly moving forward and can support your notes, then your embouchure will naturally fine-tune itself to become more efficient.

    In the big picture, that "soft embouchure" has the efficiency we want in all aspects of our playing. But if you can learn to make a simple lip slur leading with your air at a super soft dynamic, then it's the same exact action at a louder dynamic (just that - louder).

    As long as your mind can build the bridge, you'll achieve great success!
    coolerdave likes this.

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