reasons for dizziness when playing "high notes"

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by coolerdave, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    Simply ... you know how you brain freeze works when you eat ice cream? You eat it then.. wait..wait... bam.. brain freeze ...ouch
    I can see why someone would get dizzy if they locked their knees or even played a very long passage on a single breath and end on a "high" note but when you are playing a range exercise? It's an arpeggio on a lung full of air. I go 4th space E up in the arpeggio... hit the high E ... wait waait... then bam dizzy.
    Not playing very loud either ... I was just wondering what causes that... or what can cause that.
    Is there a doctor in the house? :-)
  2. D.C. Al fine

    D.C. Al fine Banned

    May 8, 2012
    Too much pressure coolerdave. You need need open your throat and chest too, you should not jam your mouthpiece into your lips to play the E. Also, try them loud, maybe you will be more open if you arer putting more air into the horn.
    coolerdave likes this.
  3. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    I think you are experiencing the effects of Valsalva maneuver, for a good description of this as applies to brass players see Breathing and the Valsalva Maneuver - Music for I experienced this at G on top of the stave when I came back 27 years ago, essentially I was fighting tension closing down the glottal folds. I no longer have this by learning to become more relaxed throughout my range and letting the air flow out instead of holding it in.

    Disclaimer, I am not medically qualified although I worked for 17 years in the Physiology Dept at Melbourne University.

    Regards, Stuart.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
    coolerdave likes this.
  4. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    that's pretty good ... I still don't understand why it causes dizziness but it seems to make alot of sense
  5. The Dutch Guy

    The Dutch Guy Piano User

    Sep 22, 2008
    dizziness can be caused by a lack of oxygen. You increase the pressure on your arteries by using your muscles in your chest, neck and head region, increasing the bloodpressure to your brain.
    The ciculatory system responds by lowering that pressure. Then as soon as you stop playing the high notes, your arteries dilate and the bloodpressure drops below your normal values. This can take a few seconds, and that's why it takes a moment to get dizzy.
    then after a few more seconds your circulatory system adapts to the dilation and everything is fine again.

    It's in a way similar to standing up quickly after lying in bed for a while. It takes a few seconds for the body to adapt to the pressure changes.

    At least, that's how I would explain it...
  6. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011

    Well not actually Dave. Some of the advice, like using Valvsalva maneuver is sound. The rest isn't applicable.

    These are headaches caused by the buildup and sudden release of air pressure against the brain. Air pressure build up in the lungs is necessary in order to blow a solid G above High C. Gotta do it. The trick is to stay short of that threshold where pain occurs. Some have referred to these as "Slammer" headaches. The kind that high note trumpet players get.

    In time your body will be able to accept an increase in pressure fluctuation. However all this means is that you've raised that threshold where pain occurs. You'll still have to keep an eye on excessive pressure to brain build up and release.

    One hint is to learn to blow high notes softer. Get the projection going without the sheer volume.

    Less volume = less air pressure buildup and subsequently less pain when released.

    By the way "Keeping an open throat" is an unnecessary suggestion as we never close our throats while playing the trumpet. Doesn't happen. Kinda like an old wives tales. It sounds good but is meaningless phrase. Sorta like suggestion "don't talk while you're swallowing". You can't do either. See? ...
  7. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
    How exactly is the pressurized air getting to the brain??
  8. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    Its not getting to your brain in that sense. Instead it is pushing against that gray matter. This locks out blood circulation. When the blood finally returns to the brain is when you get the "slammer" headache. The re-flow of blood is like a dam breaking. Ouch!
  9. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    I know this is a medical condition,but what causes this in trumpet players?

    When this used happened to me and others I've observed,it was when we were over doing things.Using too much body tension and embouchure pressure.Then trying to take in as much air as possible,and trying to push it all out at once on a high note or loud phrase.This can cause the air to bottle up in our bodies and give us the feeling of dizziness.

    The best way I know to avoid this,learn to relax your body when playing,never try to play anything at 100% of your top volume,80% should be sufficient. This will not only eliminate head aches and dizziness,but also help endurance.

    A lot of jazz bands,especially school jazz bands have the trumpet section stand.If you are standing, don't lock you knees,this can cause a lose of circulation.I've seen this happen more than once when I was in the Army band, and it wasn't the musicians keeling over. We knew not to lock our knees.
  10. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    The matter is purely physical Al. No mystery. The brain gets compressed by high PSI within the mouth cavity. Soft palate pushes against the brain and starts to cut off blood flow. When the blow flow suddenly returns after the note is released? The decompression creates the pain.

    The cure is

    A. Reducing the length of time the brain has to sustain compression and subsequent loss of blood flow.

    B. Reduce the volume of these high notes so as to lessen blood flow stoppage.

    C. Combination of A & B above.

    That'll do it.

    Also experience with the condition tends to prevent it from happening. I'm not sure if its the body getting stronger and adjusting to the condition or if the trumpet player wises up and avoids crossing that threshold to begin with. That point where the blood flow gets cut off too much for comfort. The answer is probably some combination of both though.
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