Physical strain from the trumpet

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Haekoth, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. Haekoth

    Haekoth New Friend

    Aug 30, 2015
    Hello everyone,

    I came back to playing trumpet after a 8 year hiatus about 4-5 months ago, I've been learning via lessons on the Internet. I thought when my finals ended I'd go get some classes from a teacher, but I've been having problems related to playing and I'm starting to consider if I should keep playing the trumpet. So far it looks extremely physical and really bad for the chops' well being. To compare it with something, I've been messing around with a borrowed tenor sax for about two months and never had an issue with my chops or chin or face pressure.

    I've been having, for about a month, pain in the left underchin area. I've read it might be TMJ due to too much pressure, and stopped for about a week, took a couple of antiinflamatories. Started again really softly but after just two 30 minute sessions the pain was there again. I did the same and the same happened two days ago. Is this a normal pain to experience? Or is it probably due to some bad habit I've developed? I always warm up and down and try to not smash the mouthpiece against my face.

    Opinions on how much physical strain the average trumpet player undergoes would help me greatly. I'd also like to know how much practice is a good pace. Next semester I'm starting my second college degree with my current one and I will probably only practice in the weekends.

    Thank you in advance, and sorry for any grammar mistakes.

    PD: I'm playing on a Conn pocket trumpet. I've read they require more pressure to play, could it be a factor?
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006

    there IS a physical part to playing. The less routine we have, the more that it is necessary. That generally is not associated with pain. Pain is not normal. A tenor sax is not "less" work.

    A good pace is an hour every day (3 x 20 minutes at the beginning or 4 x 15). Just playing weekends is not going to help you solve any of your issues or build for the future.

    If you search on "Circle of Breath" here, you will find my entire take on low impact, high repetition routine to be practiced daily.

    A pocket trumpet does NOT require more pressure to play. It could be harder to blow and simply require more effort (mostly breathing effort).

    It is very difficult to determine what is wrong without a live lesson. If you entertain continuing with the trumpet, you should go see a real teacher (no internet) for at least one lesson to get the pain thing diagnosed. Maybe pain is the wrong word and you are only dealing with "strain". I have no remote diagnosis method.
  3. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

    Jul 5, 2010
    Vienna, Austria, Europe
    Frame that in gold!
  4. Haekoth

    Haekoth New Friend

    Aug 30, 2015
    Thank you for the answer Rowuk.
    Re - reading my question today I noticed it is kinda vague, so thanks for putting up with my musical ignorance and questionable redacting skills.

    The thing that worried is that the trumpet could turn out to be one of those instruments which "harm" you (for lack of a better word) when playing them. Like the guitar, which makes you develop callosities, but in a much higher scale than that. I've read stories of people blowing ripped open their lips out or damaging their adam's apple from playing. I don't aim to be a professional so those things wouldn't happen to me, but I imagined there would be some sort of harmful physical strain applied on my chops or facial muscles. If I mentioned the sax, it was just because when playing it I don't get any pain neither the same pressure than when playing the trumpet, so it seemed like a low physical impact instrument (not requiring less work, but using up less of your physical strength).

    As you told, I've searched for your routine of "Circle of breath" and will do my best to practice it daily. Also I think it is the time to find a teacher and diagnose what's wrong with my playing and where the pain might come from.

    Thank you again.
  5. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    Thanks for the word "callosities!" My first reaction was "this guy is nuts", but I checked and there it is!

    Good luck with the trumpet. Be patient and remember that you don't need to strain anything to play it. Rowuk's advice is golden.
  6. bamajazzlady

    bamajazzlady Mezzo Forte User

    May 16, 2011
    Haekoth, there are issues of Satchmo's Syndrome and Focal Dystonia but they can be avoided if you rest as much as you play. Every instrument is physical. If you really want to learn trumpet, focus solely on it.
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The internet is a dangerous place. Be assured, music programs in public schools are not shut down because of crippled trumpeters.....

    If you are "reasonably" healthy, have an hour or so per day and some ambition, nothing can really go wrong. Just like most do not drown when drinking tap water, sensibly dosed trumpet practice does not produce calloused lips, bad teeth or ruptures. I have met quite a few cool people during my 40 years with the trumpet.......

  8. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    You could look at Rowuk's advice like this... what's it going to cost you for a lesson from a respectable teacher? $50-60 ? Probably near the cost of a doctors visit.. and you have all this stuff floating around in your head about exploding lips ... I couldn't play if I had that stuff bouncing around my cerebral cortex ...
    I might also add, the aim is to create music not conquered the beast.
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Take up the drums. Seriously - it's not that I don't enjoy playing trumpet, but I can't imagine trying to be a comeback player after a decade or so off, trying to pick it up from scratch, and trying to get to a point where I could actually play well enough to play in an amateur ensemble like a community concert band or something.

    And not only that, but what kinds of playing opportunities are there for trumpet if you aren't playing at least to a certain level? At least with drums you can get involved in garage bands, bar bands, church praise bands, (that's a big thing in this region - a lot of contemporary churches have praise teams) or just rock out to songs in the basement wearing a pair of isolation in-ears.

    As for chops problems, for a comeback player, you're probably getting pretty much spent 30 minutes to an hour into practice. Heck, on drums, I can play for hours before I start to notice things like my my right ankle misfiring occasionally, and my hands just get faster the longer I play and looser I get.

    I'm not trying to be a downer - I'm just thinking that if it's just musicianship on an instrument you seek, there are other ways to go than playing trumpet that can be a lot more rewarding in less time, and don't have so many of the pitfalls associated with trumpet, such as mouthpiece pressure, range and endurance.
  10. Reedman1

    Reedman1 Piano User

    Sep 5, 2013
    NY, USA

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