off days?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by daveblue222, May 4, 2010.

  1. daveblue222

    daveblue222 New Friend

    Aug 19, 2009
    hey, have been playing about 8 months seriously now and am finding that some days i can barely get a sound out of the thing and on others i play reasonably well (simple tunes,warm ups,standards)

    on a good day i can easily reach E over third space C, on an "off day" this note will sound loud and to harsh/breaking up.

    not sure why this is, anyone else had this problem


  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Dave, in my opinion this is nothing out of the ordinary, although there could be a number of different reasons why some days are much worse than others. Many beginning players force things a bit too much and that inherently causes inconsistencies in your playing.

    Just take things easy for now, don't push too hard, and focus on relaxed fundamentals. (Low, relaxed long tones, basic articulation, basic flexibilities) The largest percentage of my fundamental maintenance practice is done from third space C and below - as the old saying goes, "you can't build a tower without a strong foundation." Having said that, I still have off days on occasion too, and I've been playing trumpet for the better part of 30 years. The real trick is getting to a point where your off days aren't much different from your good days.

    Good luck with it - keep us posted on how things progress.
  3. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    That, and the off days become less frequent. I used to have really bad days, too, but after enough dedicated practice and years of experience, most people can't even tell when I have a bad day. It's a lot more work for me to sound good on those days, but the swings between good days/bad days are much less pronounced now.
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Dale, to add to that, it becomes less a matter of whether or not people can tell, but more about how much work you have to do to make it happen. Most of the time on my gig I sound pretty much the same from gig to gig, but some nights I have to work hard at it, and some nights it just happens. Those are the nights that I truly love being a trumpet player and I know why I do it, because it's FUN!
  5. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    I agree with the above posters, in that we must learn to cope with our off days.

    But I also believe that this issue is more than just superficial:

    Ann Petry wrote in "Solo on the Drums" in '47 Magazine of the Year:
    "Everything you ever had, everything you ever lost. It's all there in the trumpet--pain and hate and trouble and peace and quiet and love."

    When we are having an off day on our trumpet, we are having an off day in our life.

    Trumpet playing is a barometer of our mood state. These swings of mood are more apparent to us in our trumpet playing than in a lot of other activities. So we can choose to cover it up, which is quite correctly what we need to do to remain "professional" in our playing; or we can look to see what it is that has so affected us to have a negative impact on our trumpet playing.

    Did we just have an argument with our spouse? Or, worse still, did we bite our tongue instead of letting it out? Or did someone smash into our car? Or did the supermarket want to overcharge? Or ......?

    Any of the above, or even just the thought of any of the above can be enough to send us into a bad trumpet day.
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    My apologies Ivan, but I just don't buy into that. Whether I'm playing well or not has very little to do with my mood, and I have enough gigs and days playing under my belt that I can say that with confidence. I can say that because I have played poorly and yet been in a great mood with all else going well, and I've played my behind off and have had multiple things amiss in my life. There have been days when I have rolled into a job fully expecting to play poorly due to being tired, not having practiced enough, not having had enough to eat earlier in the day, my general attitude and demeanor was in the the garbage, etc, and then I go an just nail it down. By contrast I've done jobs where I took great pains to set everything up correctly - got enough sleep, ate right, was well prepared and practiced, etc, and things just didn't go well at all and I struggled the whole way through. The same thing happens when I'm behind a drum kit, and my mood plays virtually no part in it.

    There are physical aspects of it, and mental aspects of it, and all of that can be kicking into high gear even when your mood is not in a good place. In my opinion it's best to stick to listening to what your body tells you when it comes to both the physical and mental aspects of playing an instrument - I think you'd get more from it than by trying to discern whether or not you are in the mood to do some good playing, or to try to find some other "higher-meaning" type of an excuse as to why you didn't play well.
    Last edited: May 4, 2010
  7. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Some days you win, some days the trumpet wins. That's the way it is.
    However, from what I'm hearing I'd suspect that you're pressing the mouthpiece harder against the lips as you go high and less the force as you play low. This is affectionately known as The Armstrong Method since it is the arm muscles that are pushing the mouthpiece against the lips instead of using the muscles in the lips to do the work. This is not an unusual thing at all for someone starting out. I suggest checking out Mouthpiece Pressure Assessment to see if your playing exhibits some of the traits listed.
  8. daveblue222

    daveblue222 New Friend

    Aug 19, 2009
    thanks for all the feed back much appreciated :)

    markie - im not sure if thats what im doing, so i will be sure to check next time i play.cheers!

    trumpetplus- i think i (in my case) i have to agree with trickg as i can be in quite a good mood somedays and my playing can still sound terrible. also when i listen to chet baker he doesnt sound at all happy in some of his playing/singing but expresses this well through both of these.

    thanks again
  9. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
    This might not apply to most of you, but I'm one who suffers from occasional herpetic lip sores. Typically, they pop up if I'm under a lot of stress: big important concert, stress at work, too much up time and not enough sleep. I have found that I have a couple of bad days before an outbreak.

    These bad days manifest themselves as reduced flexibility, accuracy, and deteriorated tone-quality. For example, one sensitive test I use for reduced flexibility is the Ballerina dance solo from Stravinsky's Petrouchka. If I can navigate the downward slurs in the middle of the exerpt (especially on C trumpet), I'm ok, but if I start having trouble with them, that's a good time for me to begin taking my Acyclovir. If I ignore the playing problems, the next thing I know, I'm getting that itchy feeling in my lip, and a sore is beginning.

    I don't know if any of you have similar signs, but it might be interesting to notice if there's a correlation between bad days and impending lip sores!

    Hope this helps someone!

    Guy Clark
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    My playing is more of a reflection of the PREVIOUS day. There are certain things where I know better. When I challenge fate, I do not always win.

    Somehow I always manage to play REALLY well after a fight with my wife......... Personal relationships do not have linear responses. If you spend more time with the trumpet, it almost ALWAYS does get better though.

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