Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by john7401, Oct 25, 2009.

  1. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    Muscles and Trumpet Playing

    I was just thinking that if lip muscles control you playing and are in fact "muscles", then do they work the same as all other muscles where if you build them up while your young they will work/stay better for the future? Would it also mean that people who start on the trumpet young can eventually get better built up muscles for playing that someone who starts at like age 35?

    This one seems a lot less likely, but since you use stomach muscles to control your diaphram, especially when you go to those high notes, could building up stomach muscles outside of trumpet practice increase range and control?
  2. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    Re: Muscles and Trumpet Playing

    Interesting question.

    But FWIW, the main facial muscles involved playing the trumpet are different from most other skeletal muscles. They are not attached to bone, and do not participate in the movement of part of the skeleton. In addition, developing these muslces focuses on flexibility, tone, and muscle memory, and not on building raw strength.

    That being said, there is a normal age-related decrease in muscle mass and function. In addition, as we age, it takes more time to recover between work-outs.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
  3. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    Cool thanks :-)
    Any thoughts on stomach muscles and playing?
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I have some thoughs on stomach muscles and playing.

    It is best not to think about them. Just like every other muscle in your body, what you see on the outside does not tell you what is happening inside.

    Smart players just do what is good for them and keep the questions minimal. Analysis has its root in its first 4 letters. Keeping MUSIC at the front is the recipe.

    Great playing comes from intelligent repetitions. Starting earlier gives you more opportunities. When you are older, it becomes harder, but not impossible to teach dogged out muscles new tricks. That does not only apply to trumpet.
  5. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008
    Oh boy!!
    I would say it takes a lot of confidence to
    give a generalized statement like that, Robin!:shock:

    In some earlier posts I have tried to find out the truth
    about stretching the lip muscles. One of the two threads
    that I started about this subject was a poll. If I remember
    correctly, your answer was that the lip muscles consist of
    white muscle fibre and therefore do not react in the same
    positive way as red or mixed muscle fibre would do regarding
    stretching. When I very clearly specified 5 (I think) questions
    regarding what the difference would be, no answer was given
    by anybody, including you. My research regarding this matter
    later on has led to the answer that most doctors do think
    that also white muscle fibre will benefit from stretching like
    all other kinds. This involves enhanced blood flow, faster
    recovery, better flexibility etc. One of the doctors that I´ve
    spoken to happens to be TrumpetMD, who in his answer to me
    confirms this.

    I have the highest thoughts about you as a teacher, and I can
    understand that you want players, especially young ones maybe,
    to concentrate on the right things.

    So do I!

    So why do I bother to talk about muscles at all, when we all agree
    that a good embouchure is built over years of playing the right things,
    developing good playing habits with a very finetuned lip work, muscle
    memory etc. (remember: I´ve always agreed on this!)?

    The reason is that I don´t think one can make anybody, young
    or other, forget about the fact that:

    * we get tired in our lips, and what gets tired must be our lip muscles

    * even if we sound good early in the day, after playing for a
    long time we sound less good, and it´s not because we´ve changed
    our way of playing. It has to do with our lip muscles

    * Not everybody have the same endurance. Those who do have good
    endurance have earned it through years of hard work, but it still does
    have to do partly with their lip muscles

    Everybody knows this. We can not deny it, no matter how good
    pedagogic reasons we may have, and think that everybody will
    believe it!! The only way we can make people believe in what we
    say is by telling the whole truth, not just the "pedagogic part" of
    the truth.

    Maybe you don´t agree that the strength of the lip muscles has any
    impact of ones playing, but I don´t think that´s it. The pedagogic
    explanation is the one I believe in regarding you, and the fact that
    you yourself have suggested people to try the Pencil Method in
    this forum not so long ago, confirms this. To my opinion you most
    certainly are one of the people who seek the truth for your own
    sake, and I believe that maybe you just don´t want to spred the
    whole truth around, this due to pedagogic reasons.

    In my last Streching thread I asked myself: He who doesn´t believe
    in lip muscle exercising other than on the horn, could he still believe
    in stretching
    the lips? We practise up to several hours each
    day, and streching after the last set (one should not start the day
    by streching since the muscles will be cold, and my experience also
    tells me that this doesn´t fell good at all!) takes 15 seconds!

    Can anyone guarantee that the 15 seconds spent on stretching
    would be wasted?
    Can anyone guarantee that good lip muscle strength has no positive
    effect on ones playing?
    And if someone wrongly does so, hasn´t he/she actually then contributed to
    the creating of another myth?
    And if someone wrongly does so, isn´t he/she actually then taking a risk of
    holding other peoples progress back, or at least holding the development of
    new methods back?

    I take these questions seriously.
    It´s only when we know the truth
    that we can make the best choices . . .

    Last edited: Oct 27, 2009
  6. SpiritDCI08

    SpiritDCI08 Piano User

    Feb 11, 2009
    Fort Campbell, KY
    I've got a question.
    A few days ago I was looking in the mirror and I noticed one part of my lips wasn't so much symmetrical. I thought that it must be a normal thing, let's face it I'm not the best looking fellow in the world.
    But yesterday I was playing a gig at a friends party. They had a mirror right by me, there was a trombone solo in one of our pieces and I started to get bored. I was playing long tones as a background for the solo. I looked into the mirror to see what I looked like in my new tuxedo. I noticed that my mouthpiece is directly on top of the area of my mouth that is slighty bigger.
    So my question is, is it muscle mass or constant swelling that is causing me to have an unequal mouth? Or is it not even trumpet related? I do know it's not dental related (tons of money spent on braces).


    On this topic,

    I was thought with I first started that you are in fact building facial muscles. My teacher used runners as an example.
    There are two kid of runners; short distance (red muscle runners) and long distance (white muscle runners). But he also introduced the concept middle distance runners (usually in the track world they are lumped into the long distance group).
    He explained that short distance runners are on average stronger. They have muscles only good for short very intense bursts of raw energy. He told me you must have red muscles but not to focus to much on achieving them.
    Long distance runners on average have better endurance. He explained that the average long distance runner will have better endurance then an short distance. They will last longer and be able to fight against any fatigue. He said on average you should be building more white muscle mass then red.
    He said there are characteristics that you must have that both show you. You must be able to do short intense bursts of raw energy but at the same time have great endurance playing. He said the the long distance runners practice running for a long time, for us it would be long tones and slow ballad works. The long distance runner is more balanced, and we should be more too.
    The short distance runners will practice short intense workouts back to back. This should be use too.
    He explained that you shouldn't think about all of this when you make your practice schedule but you must keep it in mind.

    I don't know if this helps the conversation.
    I actually wanted to put this up to verify the information.

  7. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Rowuk says:
    Analysis has its root in its first 4 letters.
    That is hard to disagree with. However, humans are inquisitive creatures and discovery is one of the hall marks of the species. Discovery without getting consumed is a balancing act unless you're a genus. Generally, the genus lives for the consumtion but in exchange, they drive the people around them bonkers.
    Rowuk goes on to say:
    Great playing comes from intelligent repetitions
    You just can't get any better advice than this little saying.
    Great words rowuk!
  8. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    By "stomach muscles", I assume you are talking about "accessory muscles" the body uses to help with breathing. This includes the scalene muscles around your rib cage. To help answer your question, you can increase your "lung capacity" through exercise. This doesn't actually increase the size of your lungs, so it's a bit of a misnomer. But what it does do is make you more efficient at moving air in and out of your lungs.

    I think there's a lot of truth in this. Yes, there are probably some non-musical things we can do to enhance our trumpet playing. But all of these are likely secondary to practicing correctly and consistently (IMHO).

    I suspect that any noticible increase in size it likely from swelling, not increased muscle mass.

    If I lifted weights all the time, I suppose my arms and legs would start looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger's. But I suspect that Wayne Bergeron's lips don't look much different than mine, even though his chops are much more developed than mine.

    When playing the trumpet, we're definitely developing our lip muscles. But it's more about muscle tone, flexibility and muscle memory than about increasing muscle mass. I'm also not sure if this is really a red/white fiber issue (although it's an interesting analogy).

    I suspect that if a person could build muslce mass in their lips, that it would actually hurt their playing through a lack of flexibility. A similar analogy is your heart, which is essentially a muscle. If a person develops too much muscle mass in their heart (for example, from untreated hypertention), it makes the heart muscle less efficient.

    MTROSTER Piano User

    Jan 25, 2007
    I've gotta put my two cents worth in here The muscles of the lip are not the only ones involved in trumpet playing. I don't want to get into an anatomy lesson here, but other facial muscles are also involved such as the buccinator and masseter muscles that change facial expression and affect the oral area. Also I think you have left out one important factor in muscle control and that is nervous control. Every voluntary muscle has an afferent and efferent nervous pathway that controls it. As time plows inexorably on, our ability to control this pathway diminishes. We see this in old musicians who handle this in different ways. Some bow out gracefully,while others soldier on and make fools of themselves. You all know examples of the above. A few appear to escape this inevitable fate,but few do.I hope to be one of those that bows out gracefully.:D

    Dr. Mike
  10. Gaucho Viejo

    Gaucho Viejo Pianissimo User

    Apr 23, 2008
    Palouse, Washington
    Whatever the role played by facial muscles and stomach muscles (I'm inclined to agree with Rowuk on how much focus you should direct at this role) I have observed, in myself, that when I was generally physically fit (actually I was crazily fit - but that's another story) I could play longer passages without need of a breath, could play fortissimo with much less effort, and could play longer sessions without feeling any kind of fatigue. At the time, my avenue of exercise was competitive swimming which does promote strong abs and breath support and control. I wouldn't attribute much importance to when (young or old) you develop the fitness to play but I can attest to the benefits, to your trumpet performance, of being in good shape throughout your entire life.

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