Opening up quietly

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by scrap, Jul 31, 2011.

  1. scrap

    scrap Pianissimo User

    Oct 22, 2010
    York, South Carolina
    To put it simply, I'm running into issues playing quietly. I can't quite figure out what I'm supposed to do to use enough air at a low dynamic level, and have a tendency to pinch. My band director suggested I do pitch bends and decrescendo-ing long tones..does anyone else have any suggestions for this problem?
  2. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    It's true that piamissimo is tough for trumpets ... alone it turns the brain around ... but the long term consequence of low long tone piamissimo practice develops the best overall performance. I've never been able to achieve quad piamissimo but I still try and use all the aids and help to achieve this I can.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2011
  3. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    You are pinching [your lips]. Now stop that.

    Do this... WITHOUT your mouthpiece to you lips... Take a big breath of air, another, another, another... now hold it, hold it, hold it... then let it out through pursed (not pinched) lips slowly, slowly, slowly. Feel the softness as the air passes between the lips. This is quit playing. Try it now with your pursed (not pinched) lips on the mouthpiece. If you have enough air pressure behind you (with your big breath) the force of air is all you need, and you can relax your lips.

    Give this a try, and may the [quiet] force be with you.
  4. duanemassey

    duanemassey Piano User

    Jul 14, 2009
    Practice relaxed. Practice something you already know in the middle register, use solid air support, but don't press. It is not easy at first, but you have to maintain your air column without just blowing.
    If it's any comfort, most trumpet players have difficulties playing quietly while maintaining a centered tone. It is not as easy as it seems it would be.
  5. trumpet1000

    trumpet1000 New Friend

    Jul 29, 2011
    hi just joined, making my first post, i am in denver, played pro 25 years
  6. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
    I practice long tones that decrescendo until the tone dies... then I try to re-start the tone from there.

    There is a point where the note just barely starts to form... like when the Deathstar is about to blow up the planet and all the laser rays are gathering before the big death ray starts... It is like the musical static electricity is gathering up and when there is enough then the tone pops out.

    I call that the "note vapor". I try to hang onto the note vapor tone as long as I can before the regular tone happens. It is pretty elusive, but it is about breath control and attacks. If you use your tongue it is too loud! You have to have a consistent, focused, but low volume super soft stream of air. If there is any wavering in the air volume you can really tell at this level.

    For me it is kind of a ZEN thing!
  7. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    IF you chops are tight then it will be a little more difficult to get your hands around the concept.
    Make sure you are doing warm ups and warm downs after you play. If you play Lead in a Jazz band or are playing in a marching band and don't warm down your chops will feel really stiff and when you try to play softly all you will get is air and alot of sputtering.
    Do the exercise gmondy recomended ... air support and a focused air stream is the basic concept.
  8. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    A great exercise for learning control is to practice what my professor, Gerald Webster called "Ghost Tones." Take a note (say, for example, g in the staff) and without tonguing, play it so softly that the sound really doesn't leave the bell--it will get trapped inside and not project.

    This is really hard to do!

    To learn the feeling, practice decrescendos with the sound going down to nothing. If the note stops, keep trying until you get it down to next to nothing. When you get this down, try the original exercise.

    Not to worry--soft playing requires more embouchure strength than playing loudly.

    Have fun!
  9. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010

    Thank you VB! That is good to know ........ Everybody struggles with soft playing. I decided that I'm not going to say anything about equipment (some of it making soft playing easier) as that could lead to dissention and even rioting (if a MP is involved).:huh:

    So, having NOT said any of that (hint, hint, see sig), my take is that soft playing requires a significant amount of time to get it right ....... I'm well on the path because of neighbor considerations. Keep at it!

  10. Conntribution

    Conntribution Fortissimo User

    Dec 25, 2010
    Lloyd Harbor NY.
    Part of my routing is 20-30 minutes of soft playing, barely audible at times. Unfortunately being self-taught I cannot adequately describe what I do and how I do it suffice it to say that it was acheived after great effort.

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