Physical Chops, Mental Chops, and Concentration

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trickg, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. JackD

    JackD Mezzo Forte User

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    Some days I wake up and my lips feel sore and swollen; that's generally an indication I'll have a bad day.
     
  2. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Here's a tip about that sort of thing, Jack:

    When you have that sort of "feeling" play for about 5 minuntes and don't pay a whole lot of attention to how it sounds. Just go along your merry way as though you were participating in an outdoor event and it started raining. You look at the western sky and see blue. Continue to carry on with the event because you know it's going to pass and you're not getting all that wet anyway.

    Rest 5 minutes, play another 5 and continue that pattern until things improve. They eventually will and quicker than you think. The critical element is to learn to ignore negative stimulus from the face and carry on anyway.

    Throughout the process you keep singing the things you're warming up as you play. I promise you, it gets better if you ignore it and just proceed with your playing in a rather nonchalant and committed way.

    ML
     
  3. JackD

    JackD Mezzo Forte User

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    Thanks Manny, I'll definitely give that a shot.
     
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    I thought that I would post in an update to this thread that I started in relation to my practicing and playing as of late.

    It would seem that consistent practice (emphasis on the word "consistent") is necessary to improve as a player. :shock: I'm sure that this comes as no real shock to anyone, and it doesn't really come as a shock to me either. What has been interesting though is that I have noticed a jump in improvement in my ability to focus and concentrate that I believe is due in part to this consistency that I have forced myself to as of late.

    And my physical chops weren't quite as good as I thought they were, but those are also improving.

    As I have said, I am really working hard these days to bring my playing back up to a level that I am happy with and in the last week or so I have started noticing a marked improvement on some of the basics, which in turn has led to an increased ability to be expressive with the music that I play. But along with the physical and mechanical side of playing the trumpet, my level of concentration and awareness has really jumped, and I'm not sure what has caused it, not that I am complaining!

    I suspect that the mental side of playing the trumpet is directly linked to the physical. To further explain this, I think that the reason for the increase in the ability to focus and concentrate is that because I have worked my physical chops a lot lately, they have gotten to the point where they are functioning much better on their own out of reflex, and brain activity that would normally be devoted to thinking about the physics and mechanics of playing is now freed up to focus instead on the expressive side of playing. I do still think about the mechanical side of playing, but really only when I’m working on technical things such as what I am working on out of my Arban’s or Clarke books.

    One thing that has been nice is that the last couple of gigs I have had it has been nice to walk in knowing that even if I didn’t have a great night playing, it was still going to be pretty good, and I think that positive line of thinking sets me up for success before I ever even put the mouthpiece in the horn.

    Anyway, I thought I would post an update and share some thoughts on the subject.
     
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Something else that I thought I would add in as an afterthought is that I think my approach that I am taking to some of my technical studies is probably also working to improve my focus and concentration.

    In the Clarke Technical Studies, I’m only working on the second and third studies, but I’m doing it slowly and systematically in every key – in years past, I would hit most keys, but there were a few keys that were awkward enough for me that I avoided them. I figure that "slow and steady wins the race" and so I plod through these exercises, excruciatingly slow on some of them, making sure to get the right notes and not worry so much about tempo. I figure that if I just keep plodding through them, eventually the fingers will start to do the trick on their own and they won’t seem so awkward after a while. This is a concept that I have used a little in the past, but it was emphasized to me recently in a phone conversation that I had with John Mohan, who basically said to keep repeating technical passages over and over, as many times and as slowly as necessary to play it correctly.

    Anyway, I think that this also forces a higher level of concentration because you have to really engage the brain to get past some of the weird fingerings.
     
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Erg. Update: Tonight, practice wasn't so hot, probably because I worked so hard last night - I also had kind of a rough day and I'm physically and mentally tired, which never seem to mix in for a good day's practice or playing. I knew when I sat down and started to go to work that it wasn't going to have a productive practice, but I tried to fool myself into it for a bit.

    So, I did about 45 minutes (on top of the 20 minute warm up set that I did earlier) of light duty playing - lyrical, easy...nothing high, taxing or strenuous, and then I just put it away for the night. There's always tomorrow night, right?
     

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