Physical Fitness and Playing Trumpet

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trickg, Nov 22, 2004.

  1. Liad Bar-EL

    Liad Bar-EL Forte User

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    Oct 25, 2003
    Jerusalem, Israel
    Patrick,

    I'll let you in on a little secret. When I was in the USAF Band, I did not realize how much pressure I had been using playing the horn until many years after the band when I laid up my horn and then decided to be a come back player.

    I wanted to learn how to play a double high C and Rich Szabo helped me. I could not have done it if I was using the pressure that I used in the prime of my life. I learned that the more I relaxed the higher and more control I would have and the better and freer sound would be the result. My range is much higher than it ever was, my endurance has increased tremendously, my tone and control has also dramatically been enhanced.

    The long and short of this is to find an excellent teacher and see if you need to reset your embouchure, change your method of playing, how to relax more, etc. Find someone whom you know that knows what to do, spend the extra dollars but save yourself a lot of time, a lot of work and really in the end a lot of money. You’ll be happier for it.

    Oh I almost forgot to say something else. I have found that drinking 4 oz of WGJ is a tremendous energizer. :D

    Good luck,

    Liad Bar-EL
     
  2. jwjazz99

    jwjazz99 New Friend

    9
    1
    Nov 21, 2004
    Columbia, MD
    chops

    It's always best to stay in shape, but I wouldn't worry about it trumpet wise. It's corners and air. We can take a look at the chops, but if they've gotten you this far, I have to say let's look at controlling the air-stream. Also, start practicing in 20-30 min. blocks. When the chops start to get tired, put it down and come back to it later. Believe it or not, it's the quickest way to build up endurance. I've taken lessons from Jacoby, Jacobs, Shew, Stamm etc. and nobody ever said a word about chops. Music and air. Don't worry about it. If it feels bad, it'll probably is. Don't forget to use the monitors. Use the electronics, don't compete with them. And, at the end of any night of hard playing, chops do get tired. The secret is not sounding like it. Jack Wengrosky 8)
     
  3. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    Update

    I'd like to post an update to my situation regarding my initial post.

    I had gigs both Friday and Saturday night and after having read and thought about some of what was posted here (thanks for all of the suggestions) I used some of those suggestions and had the first gigs that I have played well and enjoyed in MONTHS.

    More than one person here suggested to not overblow due to either getting caught up in the excitement or trying to compete with amplified, electronic instruments. After thinking about that, I thought, gee, my horn mic is run through a compressor, so no matter how loud or hard I blow, I am going to max out after a certain point - it just won't get any louder. So I backed waaaaaaay off and tried to keep that in mind during the course of the gigs. This enabled my chops to hold out much longer, and I actually had better intonation and played more musically. Overblowing was probably my biggest problem

    We also adjusted the in-ears monitor mix and my horn mic level was brought up in my personal mix - that also made things much easier.

    Also, during my practice over the last week or so, I have also tried to work toward using a more closed setting. I was blowing wide open and with my chops set up like that, on the gig, it made for low endurance. I was blowing myself out far too quickly. With that in mind, I have been working on playing more closed, softer, and with much less pressure. It's amazing how much progress you can make in a short amount of time if you have a direction that you want to go and have an idea about how to attain it.

    But, I'm still not satisfied or completely happy with my overall abilities. I would like to have even better endurance, and also have better range. So, another piece of advice that I have acted on is to find a teacher and I have my first lesson set up to be this next Tuesday evening with Jack Wengrosky. For those that might not know who he is, he is the lead trumpet player for the US Army Jazz Ambassadors. When he won the slot back around 1992, among the other people that were up for the slot was Craig Johnson, who was playing with Maynard at the time, so suffice it to say, he knows his business when it comes to playing lead. Hopefully, he'll be able to direct me down a path that will enable me to play more efficiently, thus giving me better range.

    Thanks again for all of the advice. As for the physicality part of it, in retrospect, I think that several of you that have responded hit the nail on the head by saying that you don't necessarily have to be in great shape to have good range and endurance. I think that the "smarter, not harder" approach is something that I'm going to be keeping in mind for a long time.
     
  4. Liad Bar-EL

    Liad Bar-EL Forte User

    1,151
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    Oct 25, 2003
    Jerusalem, Israel
    Sounds good.

    Now that we shared our knowledge with you, would you mind sharing with us what you learn with Jack Wengrosky on this subject?

    Have a good one,

    Liad Bar-EL
     
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    :D

    After speaking with Jack via the telephone and email, it sounds like he's going to bring me back to some fundamentals and basics, and try to reverse some bad chops/breathing habits that I have either picked up over the years or have always had. He said that what he'll have me work on may seem to be pretty simple. (Aren't the best exercises usually that way?)

    Anyway, I'm really looking forward to going to a lesson again. I have only had one or two real lessons since the Armed Forces School of music in 1989-1990.
     
  6. Liad Bar-EL

    Liad Bar-EL Forte User

    1,151
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    Oct 25, 2003
    Jerusalem, Israel
    One thing which might help you almost immediately is to remove that Roman looking metal warrior mask from your face. :lol:

    Hey, I'm open for review of basics. If he's going to have you bring your lips into your mouth as an setup for playing, please let me know because I can't see any value in this in terms of control, etc.

    Good luck,

    Liad Bar-EL
     
  7. eoliver

    eoliver Pianissimo User

    70
    0
    Nov 15, 2004
    Albuquerque, NM
    Playing in a salsa band here in Albuquerque, I've run into the same problem playing with amplified instruments. There's no way we can compete with guitars, bass, and amplified keys. I started backing off on stage, found that playing was easier, and as strange as it may sound, I found that I was playing louder, too.
    I would also say that practicing long tones softly will also help endurance, as well as practicing no pressure techniques. i.e. balancing the horn on your left hand and practicing long tones and slow scales. Gotta run, but I'll post more later on the no pressure excercises.
     
  8. Rick Chartrand

    Rick Chartrand Piano User

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    Nov 22, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Endurance

    HI Patrick

    Read your letter on Trumpetmaster regarding endurance and I have a few tips that have helped me. Physical fitness DEFINATLY has a lot to do with endurance. I was 302 pounds when I was playing for almost 14 years and was having pretty much the same probs as you. Winded, tired etc. I am down to 265 pounds now and this has made a world of difference for me on how long I can play. Also I put aside as LEAST one hour a day for practising really difficult (high note, long note) studies, just to make sure my lip is peak. You dont say what size mouthpiece you are playing, but I play a 1c because I primarily want a dark tone and concentrate on the middle a mid high regesters of my playing. Maybe if you goto a 7c or higher small cup mouthpiece this will give you further endurance. Furthermore an excercise I like to do is that I play (only during studies) on the far right and far left of my embouchure for abour 5 to 10 minutes per side. This has REALLY developed the sides of my lips which has really developed my over all endurance on my normal center playing embouchure position. Hope this helps a little. Let me know! :)

    Sincerely Rick Chartrand
     
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    Actually, for rock band I'm using a Schilke 14A4a - it just seems to be the mouthpiece that works for me.

    I have just gotten some good direction for the first time in a LOOOOOONG time. I had a fantastic lesson tonight with a great teacher and I can't wait to get started on some of what we talked about.

    More on that later. I've got to get back behind the horn!
     
  10. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    Re: Endurance

    Don't mess with Rick. :D
     

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