Playing softly

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by redlips, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. redlips

    redlips New Friend

    Dec 22, 2009
    A couple months ago I started working through Claude gordons systematic approach and conlins lip flexabilities in an effort to reduce my pressure playing. I think both studies are going really well. My range and endurance are both steadily increasing and my lips no longer look contorted after playing.

    One thing I've noticed though is that my lips seem to swell more when I play. It's almost as if they swell enough to fill the mouthpiece and block airflow unless I blow harder to reopen them. It seems to be taking away from my ability to play piano. I can certainly play louder and with more power than before, but I can't play consistently as quiet without falling off notes... Has anyone else noted this side effect? And does it go away by practicing something else?
  2. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    This is a crude analogy. Put water in a balloon and it swells. Play the horn and put blood in your lips, they swell. Pump iron and blood flows to the muscles, you look "ripped". Unless there is associated pain, you should be okay.
  3. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    If your lips are swelling you are either using more pressure and volume than you think you are and not taking enough rests.Concentrate on your breath support,just because you're playing softly doesn't mean you shouldn't use proper breathing techniques. I've seen a lot of players using more pressure when playing soft than they thought they were using because of a lack of breath support.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011
  4. The Kraken

    The Kraken Piano User

    Mar 28, 2007
    Gold Coast - 805

    Spot On!! :thumbsup:
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Playing softly increases the amount of time that we can play without wasting ourselves. That can have great advantages for learning non-power things like articulation, phrasing, finger technique as well as supporting the concept of patience.
  6. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Playing softly requires enormous control and strength. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, it is true. Spend some time playing long tones and decrescendo to zero. The goal is to reach a point where the sound is "trapped" in the bell. That quiet. Hard as heck to do, but will pay great dividends.
  7. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    in my opinion - playing softly also allows you to "feel" the vibration and correct such things as "too much pressure", and other slight adjustments to your embouchure to have good sound.

    playing louder is simply more conditioning and more air support.
    well that is what I think.
  8. shooter

    shooter Piano User

    Jan 12, 2007

    Is "zero" nothing, or just air? Most times when I'm trying to play as softly as possible, I'll decrescendo 'till there is nothing but a slight stream of air coming out. Should I instead decrescendo so that the air ends at the same time as the tone?
  9. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

    Oct 5, 2010
    Try this. Do your regular Claude Gordon and Colins stuff. Then, at night, try doing some Clarke studies which are supposed to be played softly to relearn how to play softly or regain gain some control. Doing so at night ensures that you has some rest before trying. And, only go for 20 minutes at first. Then extend the time if you can.

  10. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Taper down to silence. That's the trick.

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