"opening the throat"

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by orcanels, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. orcanels

    orcanels New Friend

    Sep 20, 2010
    I have heard that this helps with playing in general, and the upper register

    what does it really mean, does it help?

    how would i "open my throat"


  2. keehun

    keehun Piano User

    Feb 4, 2010
    I think another way you can think about this is by thinking

    "Lower is higher". Play a low G, the space below 2 ledger lines. Try to get the feel of your throat. If you have a nice solid G, your throat should be wide open...

    I think that's what "opening your throat" should feel like. That low G might be an extreme, but something along those lines.

  3. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    There is some controversy on that because the word "throat" is a layman term, and somewhat vague. I'm far from being an expert, but here is what I gathered from my reflections and experimentations.

    "Open throat" refers in fact to the larynx and how the shape of it can affect our airflow when playing trumpet. It is complicated by the fact that our larynx/pharynx is an extremely complex system of muscles designed to shape a long, irregular cavity in 3 dimensions (quite a feat!!). We operate many of these muscles without thinking about it at all, especially when modulating vowels.

    The very deeply ingrained habits we get from speaking (the activity that our larynx really evolved for) are not well adapted for playing trumpet. We instinctively tend to change the larynx' shape in ways similar to what we'd do when speaking or singing, when all we need is to do is keep it in a configuration that does not interfere with the airflow.

    Of course, there is the exception of tongue arching. The back of the tongue is very important in shaping the upper part of the cavity, but it's use differently when talking vs playing trumpet.

    Do this experiment: lightly put your hand on your throat, kinda high, slightly above your adam's apple (cricoid region). Make a piano, medium (not high nor low pitch, for you) sound with your voice, the most natural vowel that will come. Modulate that sound toward higher and lower pitch, without trying to keep or change what vowel you use. You will feel your "throat" changing shape, and the vowel emitted change from something more like E when doing high pitch, and O or A when doing low pitch.

    My undertanding is that the "throat shape" you have when doing the low sound is what is considered "open throat" and thought to facilitate trumpet playing. I couldn't really get that until my teacher started me on MP exercises and the HIMAT tone concept, but that's going beyond the topic.
  4. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    Do you mean YOUR throat, or the throat of your mouthpiece?

    If the former, it's been covered above. If it's the latter, the mouthpiece is centered in a lathe and a finish reamer larger than the existing throat is run through, one size at a time, until the mouthpiece throat is the desired diameter. People say "drilled", but it's not actually drilled.

  5. wolfmann

    wolfmann Pianissimo User

    Aug 19, 2010
    Monette has a pretty good vid on body posture which includes the answer you are looking for.I think its under Mouthpieces.
  6. ltg_trumpet

    ltg_trumpet Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 21, 2009
    I was told to open my throat more before I had a solid practice routine. now that I have been listening and practicing, I am not told to open my throat. Practice, Practice, Practice.
  7. orcanels

    orcanels New Friend

    Sep 20, 2010
    thanks, and does anyone know if the BERP system acually helps?
  8. Charles652011

    Charles652011 New Friend

    Sep 26, 2010
    Indiana, USA
    If you are an impatient beginner like me, you'd like an answer right away. My instructor is a very prominent Indianapolis player with five decades experience. He told me to use the BERP for a few minutes of buzzing then put the mouthpiece on the horn. My first formal lesson is tomorrow. Good luck.
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    It is physically not possible to "open the throat" except surgically. The throat is cartilage and not a balloon.

    What is usually meant is that our shoulders and neck muscles should be relaxed. This in fact does improve every aspect of our playing. A second aspect is tongue position in the mouth, but this is not something for DIYers.
  10. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    I have to disagree with Rowuk on this one. The trachea is composed partially of cartilage. In fact it is constituted of several layers of connective tissue, reinforced by regularly spaced cartilage rings. That allows it the flexibility that we experience when turning our heads and flexing our neck. The rings are not complete, they are open on their posterior aspect, which allows the esophagus to expand against the trachea when swallowing food. It is worth noting that the trachea does include a muscle (Trachealis), which connects the open posterior parts of the cartilage rings. The trachealis effectively constricts the trachea, reducing the inner diameter and increasing air velocity when we cough.

    However, when most people talk about their throat they do not have the trachea in mind. Instead they refer to the pharynx and larynx, whose structures are very different and much more complex, using cartilage, connective tissue, muscle and some very specialized bones (hyoid bone and styloid process).

    There are over 10 bilateral muscles involved in shaping the pharynx/larynx, that we use for voice modulation as well as swallowing. These are not exterior muscles that we use to move our neck/shoulders. Both extrinsic and intrinsic tongue muscles should be mentioned too, as they play a major role in shaping the oropharynx. While only the laryngeal muscles have the capability of "closing" the throat (as in shutting off air movement), attempts to shape the pharynx while playing can interfere with efficient use of the air. Narrowing the cavity is possible with these muscles and it is not beneficial.

    In my own experience, I have sensed the movements of these muscles and how it affected my airflow. I have even practiced moving them on purpose to better "learn" them and understand what changes with their movement. I found them hard to control and more like an on/off thing. The best is to leave them alone (relaxed) but we often instinctively try to shape our pharynx/larynx in a certain way to produce the sounds we want to hear as if we were voicing them. At least I know that was my case.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2010

Share This Page