Playing through pieces

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by john7401, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Let's take a brief look at what changes when you play for an extended period of time:
    the pressure of the mouthpiece and the tension of your embouchure muscles limits the flow of blood, without blood, the muscles have no fuel to do their job and they get weaker, causing the player to use more pressure - or get an airy tone.

    You have the solution, you just don't realize it yet. When your teacher stops you, and then you continue after a short break, it works again. You need to find ways to remove pressure/tension more often. With practice, 2 beats may enough to regenerate. there are usually plenty of musical opportunities to relax. You need to use them. Take the mouthpiece off of your face when you are not playing.

    My recipe: do the right things for endurance like lipslurs and long tones as well as increasing your musical view. Teach yourself to look for opportunities to "rest". With practice, the break time required gets shorter and shorter as your endurance increases.

    Smart playing is the solution.
  2. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    Thanks. Sometimes I'd find myself doing endurance/range lip slurs not knowing if I should be pushing through this type of thing or not, but this helps clarify things.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010
  3. sass

    sass New Friend

    Apr 7, 2008
    nelson b.c. canada
    I think Arban writes in his introduction about how some of the exercises are designed to ware you out so you would have take another approach and use things you don't know you have.
  4. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    Hmm. I'll take a look at it.
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Here is a nifty trick used by hip band directors the world over:
    Play the last measure. Play the last two measures. Play the last three measures. Play the (uhh, I think you get the idea now.)

    When we start at the beginning and play to the end and always have that nasty tired feeling at the end, our bodies learn to make the following association: "end of the piece = tired."

    We can, to a degree, reprogram ourselves the other way: "end of piece = strong and fresh."

    Give it a try.
  6. euphmaster

    euphmaster New Friend

    May 18, 2007
    John7401... sometimes this sort of thing just happens, and can happen for any number of reasons. I agree with others, that telling you exactly what the problem is, and giving you solutions could only make matters worse, though any exercise to practice can't be bad!

    Here's what I do when I find that my tone goes wonky (and it did today actually!)...

    I cranked up my practice session at 2:15PM, and right away knew that the hard blowin I had done from the night before had taken its toll. Something still wasn't right, and I had noticed that my warmup had now hit 30 minutes. Not thrilled with the tone, and overall feel of my chops, I decided to press on to the slow, high, legato Arias I usually do after warming up. I felt and heard something in my tone at times, after short stints of upper range playing, that was pissing me off. But whatever, you're gonna have days like this, but you need to handle the issue. How I handled it was continuing on with the upper range Arias, and sustaining note by note (long tones, essentially), with a proper a tone as possible. I did this for another half hour. At 3:15PM I moved on to faster classical pieces, tossed in upper register exercises to keep the upper lip active, and rounded out the session with technical exercises, finishing at 4:15PM. Shortly into the second hour of playing I noticed that the tone issue wasn't as present, and I still felt pretty comfortable in the chops.

  7. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    I always wondered why my directors do that. I guess there is a hidden meaning behind everything they do.
  8. RichJ

    RichJ Piano User

    Jan 16, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    I used to have this problem more. The fix for me was more practice and especially practicing to the point of fatigue, but then resting at that point. Also, playing an overly large mouthpiece for your personal capacity can certainly exacerbate this issue.
  9. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    This is a killer practice technique. It's how I managed to get myself through the end of the Hindemith Sonata, and I've never been a naturally strong player, endurance wise. Stamina takes more work for me than most, and this is one of the best things in my personal arsenal.
  10. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    There are lots of reasons for practicing this way, besides simply endurance.

    1) you get a really good idea of how the ending sounds, so that as you play from the beginning you have a very clear idea of how to shape the music so that it moves appropriately to the ending;
    2) if you practice from the start, for most people this means playing until you crash, figuring out the cause for the crash, starting over again, playing until you crash, which may be in the same spot, repeating over and over again until you make it further to the next place where you crash and the process starts all over again. And for many people who haven't been taught correctly, once the can make it through without a crash, they figure they've learned the piece and stop practicing it. So it's quite possible for a person who practices that way to play the first 16 measures or so (as an example) 40 or 50 times, while playing the final few measures only once or twice. Listening to students in recital often demonstrates this, where the opening is quite strong and confident and the ending is much weaker and less sure. That's not simply a matter of endurance, it's a matter of the student not spending nearly as much time on the ending as on the beginning section.

    Practicing the beginning and practicing backwards measure by measure from the end resolves both of those issues.

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