Recovering from an injury..

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Silver, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. Silver

    Silver New Friend

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    Mar 29, 2005
    Just found this forum, and thought I would shoot a question to you--

    Just a little background, I got my masters from UNT 12 years ago or so, and have been playing on ships/road bands/subs for orchestras/ basically anything that pays for the last 11 years.

    I had a bruise on my lower lip that would not go away, and come to find out it's a ruptured blood vessel that would not heal. Had to have laser surgery to remove the vein, so no physical scaring occured. I was told to take a year off the horn, to let things heal -- that time is up and am trying to come back--

    Would you have any advice or experince bringing someone back from an injury? And/or coming back after not playing for a year? Right now just trying to form an embource is a major chore, and getting anything out of the horn resembling a sound is not happening atm. I'm sure some of this is mental, but prob some also to do with not playing/ and the injury.

    Any advice?

    Thanks
     
  2. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Silver,

    First, you have to remember the folowing:

    Bud Herseth wrecked his mouth in a car accident in 1954

    Tommy Stevens had to take time off from the LA Phil because of damage done to his mouth by his dog

    Phil Smith had a hiatal hernia that kept him out of the Ny Phil for almost two months

    Rafael Mendez had a door swing open on his mouth and put him out of commission for many months.

    If they could do it, so can you.


    It's all about the sound that enticed you to play trumpet in the first place. The fact of the matter is that your embouchure is going to be different than it was but the sound in your head never changes. Forget about trying to find the old embouchure... it's gone. Try to find the old sound, whatever it takes.

    Do something ridiculous like putting the mouthpiece (with horn) on a completely ridiculous place and try for a musical sound complete with phrasing, vibrato, all that old stuff. Then shift over to another side and do it all over again. Then another place. In other words, convince yourself that making music can happen anywhere on your face. It'll all come back better than before.

    Be excited! You have a chance to play again and you have a whole room full of brothers and sister trumpeters rooting you on. Please count me in that group and let us know about your successes no matter how small they may seem.

    G-d bless,

    ML
     
  3. Hiwiller

    Hiwiller New Friend

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    Dec 29, 2004
    near Cleveland, OH, USA
    Great advice Manny,

    I wish I had known about the trumpet community and people like you a long time ago.

    About 20 years ago, I started off to college as a pretty good high school player, began lessons with Scott Johnston of the Akron Symphony, played in the Zips brass choir and was having fun doing it. Who would have thought that one night on the local bar strip would change all of that?

    One night after a fight with my college girlfriend, my temper got the best of me. I got myself into a silly situation and confronted a group of thugs on the local college bar strip and subsequently found myself waking up in the emergency room. What I didn't realize is that my lips were torn up pretty badly, damage from the teeth inside mostly. Well, that was pretty much the end of my playing...at least for a while. :-(

    Needless to say, I couldn't make a noise on the horn. I would try and try but it seemed that the embouchure change my teacher had been making, along with the injuries were too much. My beloved strad went into the case, waiting for the day I would sell it for cash... Glad I never did.

    Well, from time to time over the years, now in a non-musical career, I would open the case a blow a few notes, some would have promise, then it would fade. I became easily discouraged, and not realizing the support I could have gotten from other players like Manny, I didn't try very hard. In short, I gave up.

    Fast forward to last year, Maynard and his Big Bop Nouveau gig came to town. I had mixed emotions seeing him with my wife but we did... and am I ever glad. We both left the show on a wonderful high. On the way home, my wife said to me, "do you regret not playing any more?" Oh man yeah I do! I've read so much about playing being an addiction on these boards. It really must be some kind of thing, making music. Something just clicked in my soul. I had to try.

    So, I committed myself to do whatever it took to try to play again. I pulled out the horn the next day and did just what Manny suggested to you, did whatever I could just to find some place that responded musically.

    Well, it worked. Now, after 6-7 months or so of daily practice (self guided with help from folks on-line), some periods of frustration and temptations to give up, I am finally getting some decent chops again! :D Different chops than I had before but I can PLAY again! (in fact, my range seems to be better than before but I'm not counting any chickens yet).

    Now, I'm getting ready to take the next step an find a good teacher locally who can fine tune my comeback. The strad is in for an overhaul at Borodi's (I can't wait to see it...). But, most importantly, I have found an integral piece of myself that had been missing for 2 decades.

    So Silver, I can empathise with you. keep at it. Share your frustrations, don't let them get the best of you. I wish you all the best.

    Doug
     
  4. Silver

    Silver New Friend

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    Mar 29, 2005
    Thanks for all the support, it truly helps on the long road I know I am facing.

    The problem I am having right now, I'll try and explain as best I can.

    The second before the horn goes on my face, I am already setting up the embourche, and tensing and clamping down the chops and then trying to blow air across them to play a note. Which results in no sound at all, or such a forced sound that a low C is taking the same effort as playing a high C.

    THe chops have to be relaxed as you blow air across them, but for the life of me, I can't figure out how to get them to relax when I put the horn, or the mouthpiece up for that matter.

    I know my chops need to be 300% more relaxed then they are, but I can't firgure out how to trick myself into not setting up before hand, and not clamping down.

    I have to figure out a way past this, as I can't really progress at all until I can overcome this issue.

    Know any tricks Manny? Do you have this issue as well Hiwiller?

    Thanks
     
  5. rjzeller

    rjzeller Forte User

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    Mar 7, 2005
    Rochester, MN
    Let me preface by saying what follows is merely my opinion, and I do not make any claims that it's a valid approach. However, if it makes sense to you then it may be worth trying:

    Are you sure you're not trying to start off too fast? IMHO, the low C should require almost no effort whatsoever. Try this:

    put your lips together like you're saying the letter 'M'. Then blow through them keeping the cheeks and corners in (no air pockets in the cheeks, no flapping of the lips). You should have a small gap between the lips for the air to escape. It should blow out in a nice, steady, unhindered stream. NO BUZZING allowed. Just a nice, open, "hooooooooo".

    Now place the mouthpiece up to the lips and do the exact same thing. THe backpressure should be enough to cause the lips to start vibrating automatically and the tone to come out.

    I suspect you may be trying to "buzz" into the mouthpiece to create the tone, which is working agaist you as free buzzing is going to require a lot more effort and extra muscles.

    Once you get this down, strart from that point and try to relax even more. Do that with Low-C and down, then add G on down, then middle-C on down. In no time you'll have a reasonably playable range (a few weeks to a month, maybe).

    Range and endurance, however, are simply going to take time to recover.

    ***

    When I left college (three years early because I'm only now learning how to be mature and responsible), I stopped playing for six years. When I picked the horn back up again I had quite an adjustment period. Same thing happened after I got braces off and suddenly my lips felt like they were just 'ooozing' out of the way, as though the mouthpiece and my teeth simply wouldn't hold them.

    Your lips may not play the same way they used to. I know mine made that same adjustment twice. Like ML said, don't force them to. Start slow and let them acclimate themselves however it works best.

    My 2 pennies....
     
  6. Hiwiller

    Hiwiller New Friend

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    Dec 29, 2004
    near Cleveland, OH, USA
    Hi Silver,

    Now I know that some pedagogues will scoff but when I started to play again, I began with free buzzing for a while, then tried to buzz and bring the mp up to the lips to find a good set that would sound for me. That was pretty much how I got the 'feel' back.

    Maybe you could try that?

    Best,
    Doug
     
  7. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Y'know... it's crazy enough that it might work.

    Can you get ahold of a 1/4" diameter dowel? Cut it down to make two of them, about half an inch each. Put them between your molars (bite down gently but firmly enough to keep them in place). I think it might create a gap large enough to keep you from compressing but small enough to create a nice buzz to start the sound ( a low C).

    I had a friend that did this in school and it seemed to help him.

    If it doesn't work it won't hurt you but if it does work it'll free you up a bit to build better habits as long as you don't start biting down. Spitting out splinters would be an indication that you're biting down.

    Give it a go...

    ML
     
  8. Silver

    Silver New Friend

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    Mar 29, 2005
    Will do -- thanks for the ideas.
     
  9. Silver

    Silver New Friend

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    Mar 29, 2005
    Just an updatete, I've hooked up with a former student of Vincent Penzarella. Panzarella was in an auto-accident which was bad enough he was told he would never play again. (Manny you prob know the story i'm sure) And he went and studied with Jacobs, and couldnt make a sound for a year.

    Anyway, through this teacher, things are going well. I've been doing alot of playing on flugel, which seems to really help with breathing and overall relaxation. His approach is doing things that you don't have a previous history with. Like practing on flugel, or playing on plumbers pipe believe it or not, heh. -- Things that you aren't previously programed to. Then slowly adding the familiar back.
    Ie adding the trumpet mouthpiece to the flugel, and then switching to trumpet.

    Been doing flow studies like crazy, some easy flexibilites, and some easy cornet solos just to play something with a nice melody. I'm having to puff out my cheeks some to get my sound going, but hoping that will correct itself in time.

    I actually have a bit of hope now that coming back will be possibble, with patience and practing the fundamentals I've gone from not being able to make a sound to playing some easy moeldies that actually sound semi-decent.

    I keep looking at that list of comback players when days are bad, and ti pushes me through.

    Have you ever done much with flugel? In terms of teaching? It's doing wonders for me so far..

    thanks again for your imput,

    Silver
     
  10. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Silver,

    No, none at all to speak of. But I like the idea of introducing starngeness into your playing by playing an instrument that has fewer preconceived notions attached than the standby trumpet.

    It sounds like you've done well. Keep us posted and I wager you'll be a source of inspiration for the next few comeback players.

    ML
     

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