Physical strain from the trumpet

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

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Yeah, but I don't think I said anything out of line or untrue. Not everyone is meant to play the trumpet, and it can be challenging even for those who don't have to overcome bad habits, or inherent embouchure issues. I've been on trumpet for nearly 35 years, and there are times where I really struggle with it, and especially now that I'm older. The older I get, the more work it seems to take just to maintain my chops and to keep from backsliding, never mind trying to build upon what I have, and basic, functional playing came pretty easily to me. I can't imagine how I would have fared if it hadn't and I'd had some substantial obstacles to overcome.

    Just trying to keep it real. I love the fact that I'm also a solid, functional drummer so that if something were to happen and I could no longer play trumpet, (short of losing a limb, of course) I can still continue forward making music on another instrument.
  2. Reedman1

    Reedman1 Piano User

    Sep 5, 2013
    NY, USA
    I took up trumpet at age 57. No previous history of playing brass, though I used to play woodwinds. It's a challenge, yes. But it's also a journey of discovery that's mostly enjoyable. I have a great teacher, I practice diligently, and I take every opportunity to play that I can. I will never be great, or professional, but I will have fun and bring some people pleasure.

    Now, about the physical challenges: I find that holding the trumpet can be hard on my shoulder.

    Play on.
  3. Haekoth

    Haekoth New Friend

    Aug 30, 2015
    Thanks all for your answers, every opinion helps.

    That's exactly the stuff that has me worried. Besides the difficulty of playing opportunities (although I considered the trumpet to be very flexible and able to play in a lot of musical styles and ensembles) I wouldn't want an instrument with which stopping for a couple of weeks (bound to happen some time this next couple of years) would mean losing the muscles and having to work hard eternally just to recover them. That's why I'm wary of the harsh physical part that comes with the trumpet. It will be enough work to be correct on the technique, but I'll have to worry as well about being super buff in the chops area.

    Even though I really don't fancy the drums, I may consider dropping the trumpet in favor of some other instrument less punishing to get into, I don't know which one yet.

    For now, given that I always have fun while playing the trumpet, I'll search for a teacher to see what I'm doing wrong. I wouldn't want to drop it just yet without trying first.

    Thank you all again for the advice.
  4. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    Good gosh, it's a trumpet! Well, personally it was a cornet given me after a 40 year lapse when I was still sitting in a wheel chair recovering from back surgery. Subsequently, there was more surgery for abdominal aortic aneurism and left femoral aneurism. Then there followed open heart triple bypass and that was followed by near total dental reconstruction. Now I'm also diagnosed with Type II diabetes (that does tricks with the whole body neuropathy) plus COPD. POINT: I've endured and still play ... going out tonight to a community band group I play with and now and then conduct.

    First, I recognize that physiology, and psychology (mindset) vary individually. That said, I am perceiving 3 elements that IMO are not at all helpful to the OP: (1) Utilizing a pocket trumpet that IMO trend to overuse of left elbow pressure pushing the mouthpiece extra hard against the lips and setting up tension in the lower jaw, (2) a variance in dental and lower mandible (jaw) structure, and (3) inadequate practice routine attempting to do it all in one day a week with too long a session without like (or any) rest periods.

    To illustrate the foregoing latter, with the new beginners I tutor, I begin their sessions with their "lip time" playing (or attempting to) for 15 minutes, alternating with a like time they rest while I discuss or demonstrate. I ask that my students do the same practicing at home on a daily basis accumulating one full hour of "lip time" each day while not ignoring the rest time proscribed. Did you do the math? Yes, this regimen has a duration of 1 hour and 45 minutes. Possibly, in 6 months I'll upgrade to alternating in 20 minutes "lip time" with 20 minute rests. Mostly, this is what I personally utilize, but occasionally, when I feel my best, will upgrade to 30
    minutes alternating. I will not upgrade a beginning student to this in less than a year.

    I haven't yet tutored a "comebacker", but to take the side of caution, I would proceed as if a beginner until I perceive otherwise.
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    For me, playing trumpet (or being a musician, as the case may be) has been an essential part of my life, and the one constant that has been almost ever-present since I was about 13 years old - I was in 7th grade when things started to click and I made the decision that I'd like nothing more than to find some way to make playing trumpet a part of my adult life.

    You mentioned taking time off and having to rebuild. That's always a factor. Things have been really odd the last few weeks - first I got sick, then we had weird weather, and I haven't done much playing in the last 3 weeks, and it will take a toll on my chops. For me though, I'm back in the groove after a few days back on the horn. I don't know if it's because I have 35 years of chops development under my belt so that I never really lose the foundation anymore or what the deal is, but anything short of a month off, and I get it all back pretty quickly.

    On another note, I missed the part where you said you were playing on a pocket trumpet. My advice to you is that if you really want to make a go of playing trumpet, ditch the pocket trumpet and invest in a better instrument - get something along the lines of a Yamaha 6335, or something similar.

    I suppose much of it boils down with what you intend to do with it. I started "gigging" professional level music doing work in church in high school. From there I went into the Army band program where I was in pro-level ensembles - particularly big band and brass quintet. As a result, I have an expectation out of myself musically and I don't want to fall under a certain threshold. But that's just my situation - many players are perfectly content to play by themselves in a practice room. I find that if I don't have a gig to prepare for, I have a hard time even getting into a practice room - that holds true with drums almost as much as trumpet. I don't really gig for pleasure though - most of the time (some church praise band stuff being an exception - I do get paid for some of it) if I'm on the horn or the drums, there is a dollar figure attached to it, so there is a certain amount to maintain if I want to continue to get hired and re-hired.

    Definitely check in with your teacher though- it's possible that part of what you are going through is just becoming assimilated to the horn, and going through some joint pain due to how you are positioning your jaw to form the embouchure. That may go away once you get a bit further into your comeback.
  6. Comeback

    Comeback Forte User

    Jun 22, 2011
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Lots of good advice here, much of it based upon each poster's unique personal experience. I suggest that you take comfort in the fact that you will have your own unique personal trumpeting experience too. It may or may not closely resemble the experiences of others. I applaud your decision to seek out good instruction. Perhaps after you gain confidence in your trumpeting fundamentals, things will look different to you. Why not skip worrying about struggling to recover after periods of time away from the horn and enjoy the present trumpeting moment? Recovery times vary considerably from player to player. Good luck!


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