Marching Band Woes

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by jazz9, Oct 9, 2008.

  1. John P

    John P Piano User

    Jun 16, 2006
    Camp Hill, PA
    The problem may not be in your feet...exactly.

    Keeping a horn steady on your face while moving around a field is not a natural thing for your body to be doing. In order to get this task done, your body can do one of several things. You could be holding a lot of tension in the arm/shoulder area, which translates into pressure on your chops. So if sound fine standing still and have problems keeping the sound up while you're moving, this could be the problem. To correct this, think of stabilizing yourself from the abdominal region (this is also known as the marching "powerhouse" or "core"). Proper posture and a minimum of tension are the best remedies for failing chops.
  2. wilcox96

    wilcox96 Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 31, 2005
    charlotte nc
    All fine advice..but I think Pedal C and John P have it right. Outside, you simply don't have the walls, etc to get your sound bounced back to you. It is getting lost in the vastness. Then...just like Pedal C said... it is a cycle. You can't hear as play louder...etc...etc... overblowing.

    There's a saying..."Play at 85%, sound like 100% and you'll live to play again tomorrow". You've got to get the reigns on this. Softer playing to balance out is fine. I think that's good so as to get that apeture back down. Also, some breathing exercises...without the horn...

    Honestly, you sound like you are really playing enough. If you are trying to do all of this and practice...I think you are just doing too much. Give yourself/chops a break. Reserve more intense practice for when you don't have so much going on..or at least, when Marching season is over and perhaps the challenges of this loud, jarring playing will not be a factor.

    I'm sure some of the D&B corp guys/gals will chime in. They have much experience in this area and can surely give some advice on how to make it. Their schedules can be even more grueling than even you have described.
  3. edcon1981

    edcon1981 Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 25, 2008
    Central Jersey
    i too faced the same problem. tell me, when you practice on your own, are you marching in place? outlining your routine in your head and relaying that to your feet?

    what helped me was when i would practice at home i would march in my back yard while practicing (luckily my parents had two acres in south jersey, i didn't look too insane). i would spend many a night out side marching back and forth in rows, stopping and going in conjunction with my routine. the biggest thing is to practice WHILE keeping your body in motion. it will take alot out of you but as a marcher you need to develop great endurance.

    and yes, play softer on the field. one trumpet won't make up for a weak line. blaring your music will just wind up sounding brassy and distorted... which could reflect poorly on you.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2008
  4. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    If you have no problems playing indoors your embouchure is probabily fine. What you are doing is something we have all done at some time, thats over blowing.Hold back a little on the volume. Over blowing spreads your lips ,your sound ,kills endurance and can cause physical damage, concentrate on a full centered sound ,you should never play all out always keep something in reserve.
  5. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    I didn't read all of every response so I might be repeating.
    I will go with over blowing outside.

    I was a section leader when I was in high school a 100 years ago. Things were different then but what would hurt me was having to wait to play and not warming up properly. I would buzz on the mouthpiece when I could softly. Even if you warm up inside and then go outside and blow your brains out on the field I think you need another warm up.
  6. Pete

    Pete Piano User

    Nov 17, 2007
    And to add to this, try to use cotton balls in your ears. Roger Ingram talks about this in his new book. He learned it from Bobby Shew. Better than ear plugs, they allow you to filter out all the noise around you and get an internal feel of the sound of your horn. It's worth a shot. You won't try to play so loud, and the sound will carry farther than a spread sound, in which you feel you are playing loud, but it only sounds loud near you.

    Last edited: Oct 12, 2008
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    your first mistake is trying to "save" the section on the field. No single player can accomplish that regardless of playing expertise!
    You need to play at volumes that let you complete the show. Most younger players do not realize that blasting does NOT project as well as a controlled forte. It does waste the face faster though.

    You need to practice outdoors by yourself. Set up the session with the pieces that you play on the field and put the same amount of time between them. Play at a comfortable forte for you and see if you can get through. I'll bet that you can play the show twice that way.

    What happens is that you turn your brain off outdoors. There is no feedback outdoors to give you clues to how loudly you are playing. In a good room the acoustics give you sound back and make it easier to judge.

    Success outdoors is just simple intelligent dosing of the power that you have. Back off, you will be fine! Don't ever try and give more than common sense dictates - even if the band leader gets on your case. YOU need to have pride in your playing, and 65% of the show does not feed that pride.

    Get Smart!
  8. jazz9

    jazz9 Piano User

    Dec 5, 2007
    Chilhowie, VA
    Wow! Thanks everyone for your help! I'll really try to get somewhere outside to practice so I can work on getting a comfortable forte. It does make sense that I have been overblowing. I'll really try to take it down a notch and just try to keep steady throughout the show. Again, thanks for all the advice!
  9. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.
    The question comes to my mind, as a very old man who is no longer able to walk very far, much less, to march. What is your ultimate goal with your trumpet? Do you envision a long career of marching while playing? Military bands do this quite nicely, and they are about the only ones who do. If you are attempting to further your 'musical education' and advance your playing skills, just play the part perfectly, but, don't do ANYTHING that could potentially damage your current or future playing. If your band teacher is forcing you to blare your part, ignore him. Practice until you have your part memorized, then play it only as loud as YOU feel comfortable with. I have seen far too many teenage students that have come to me with split lips and embouchures damaged in many other ways for remedial work who were damaged by some percussion major in the job of band director. If you play your part perfectly, but, not at FFFFF volume, your teacher can NOT drop your grade for playing a hint softer. He doesn't have that right.

  10. jazz9

    jazz9 Piano User

    Dec 5, 2007
    Chilhowie, VA
    What is your ultimate goal with your trumpet? Do you envision a long career of marching while playing? -oldlou

    Absolutely not. I frankly do not even really like it. I just want to get it over with so I can get to college and do their marching band. I have to do it for 2 years in college, so I'm looking for advice on how to better myself now so I won't have to later. Anyway, thanks for your help. I appreciate it. I'll definitely try to find that comfortable forte.

    BTW, our band director is OBSESSED with percussion. lol

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