Playing quietly/technique question

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by samsplace, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. samsplace

    samsplace New Friend

    Jul 9, 2009
    My son (five years old) recently started practicing playing very softly. I believe that I have read here at TM that this is a good way to build your playing ability??

    He is amazing me the way he is controlling his volume, however, when he is playing quietly, most of the notes sound very airy unlike when he plays at a normal volume and sounds good. He thinks it is quite hysterical to go from super quiet to wake up the neighborhood loud just to be sure he is the center of attention, the little stinker! :-)

    At this point, I am keeping a pretty hands off approach and just letting him play and have fun. He continues to be self-motivated and improving. But I also don't want to foster bad habits by being too laid back. Is the airy tone something that will likely work itself out?
  2. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    If you have any experience as a trumpet teacher, now would be a good time to start to take some control and channel what he's doing. If you're not experienced as a trumpet teacher, now would be a good time to find a teacher who is willing to work with you and your son.

    A quiet tone should be just as pure trumpet tone as a louder tone. Is it likely to work itself out? Maybe yes, maybe no. Are you willing to take the risk? :-)
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    The airy tone is to be expected, and will most likely work itself out with time. What is freaky is that he is already exploring the extremes of volume. Little stinker, heck no, little prodigy is more like it! Discourage him from this practice of pushing the envelope, otherwise he'll get scary good and put us older folk out of work, get all kinds of press and make you overly proud.

    If you can get him to keep exploring technique, not as a means to an end, but as, well, something to explore, you might end up with a musician on your hands!

    When he starts to lose his baby teeth, things will change for a while. Be very careful, or he will start to muscle his way through, losing the finese he now has. Keep playing low-key and fun for him, because it sounds like he is serious.
  4. RB-R37297

    RB-R37297 Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    I'm just now looking at playing very softly during practice after five years on the horn and one of the things that always irks me is the airy sound and the "gramophone" hisses I sometimes get in my sound. My teacher says that as my embouchure gets stronger this will disappear.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The airy sound is easily explainable:
    the noise you hear is the air movement that is NOT being turned into sound because the lips are not working correctly.

    The lips do not "vibrate" as such, they flap open and closed. In the case of a weak embouchure, they may not close completely allowing air to escape. Another situation occurs when we use to much physical force either with extreme mouthpiece pressure or by playing loudly. Then the lips are "stiff" and do not react delicately with the moving air.

    Both cases cause the hissy sound when playing quietly. The cure is pretty obvious: limit uncontrolled loud playing, and promote practicing softly.

    It is not a function of strength, it is a function of the proper care and feeding of the chops.

    A third possibility is when our lips dry out - especially in the dry months of the year. Here I have no recommendation except to drink enough. All other measures are personal preference.

    Our lips are the vocal chords of playing. Treat them with care and they will reward you with reliable, beautiful sound!
  6. samsplace

    samsplace New Friend

    Jul 9, 2009
    THanks so much for the input! I do plan to have his trumpet teacher check him out today at his lesson, but I find it so helpful to understand a little better myself.

    Being my child, of course I think he is pretty darn amazing. I mean really, what four year old begs for a real trumpet for nearly an entire year when he has never even touched one? It's not like there are any trumpet players in our family or extended family!

    But then this morning he starts pounding out Fur Elise on his trumpet and I think maybe that prodigy label might fit. He started playing Minuet in G several months ago because he heard his sisters playing it on violin. Just last month, we moved him on to level 2 books and low and behold, there is Minuet in G. He has been playing for five months now and taking lessons since late August.

    I need to make a new recording to post on YouTube because he has really improved since we last posted in August. However, here is a small sampling of his tunes from August:
    YouTube - The whole enchilada
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The cornet looks like a better choice. His body use seems to be better. His head is angled back when playing the trumpet and relaxed/straight with the cornet.

    AWESOME! Keep him fed with as many new tunes as he is willing to play!!!!!
  8. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    I agree with Rowuk, the cornet is easier for him to hold in the proper position.
    He's terrific and it is heart-warming to see the little guy so obviously enjoys playing.
    Rich T
  9. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    Sounds like he's got a good start. I noticed though, that he's playing second line G 1-3 instead of the standard open fingering. Maybe something to mention to his teacher.

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