Reducing Tension

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Terrizzi, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. Terrizzi

    Terrizzi New Friend

    Oct 18, 2010
    Jacksonville FL
    I have learned to become more relaxed over the past 6 months, reducing pressure and becoming a better player all around. Recently I have been studying Bod Odneals Casual Double High C and playing the method he espouses there to build high register. I won't give the method away but it seems counterintuitive and absolutely in my opinion will help one attain higher notes if practiced thoroughly (OK a newbie opinion at that-take it for what it is worth)

    Anyway, as I am playing I am getting dizzy. Bob said I am probably tensing up somewhere and we can actually cut off blood to the brain as we do this. This seems to make sense.

    Any ideas on reducing tension or finding the place of tension, etc. Any general or specific methods that have worked for you in the past?
  2. Asher S

    Asher S Pianissimo User

    Sep 20, 2009
    Suburban Boston
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Time to toss the good 'ol Vulgano "RAY OF POWER" into the ring again, as well as the cheapo Alexander Technique:

    The finicky thing about air is that, yeah, we must learn the mechanics but then forget about them, because under the stress of performance, as tension sets in, our bodies will lie to us, and it will feel like we're moving huge amounts of air, breathing deeply and supporting when in fact, we are not!

    For this reason, I rely on some Vulgano Voodoo and the RAY OF POWER. It involves the Root Chakra, which is located directly at the base of the spine, also known as the coccyx. The chakras have their own mystic qualities, I guess. I don't know for sure, but they do seem to be located in parts of the body where bunches of nerves meet. (The Vulgano version is situated half way between the places we do our number one and number two in the restroom.)

    In practice and in theory, imagine (and feel) a ray of some sort (red is the most common mystic color associated with the root chakra) shooting down into the ground while playing. For high notes, imagine (and feel) a more intense ray. If we practice this sitting in a chair, we can notice all kinds of muscles come into play, which happen to be the same muscles used to "support" the air stream. By taking attention off of the mechanics and experiencing the mysterious, magical and not yet patented RAY OF POWER we can avoid some of the tension involved in "trying hard."

    Nothing mysterious and magical here really, but the RAY OF POWER does permit me to play with a relaxed but working body.

    The cheapo Vulgano Alexander Technique involves making the body as long as possible--keep your head as far from the nether regions as you can.

    This combination allows us to play our butts off!

    Have fun!
    turtlejimmy likes this.
  4. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Dizziness and headaches are caused by over breathing. When you tighten your embouchure for high notes and then try to push too much air through the horn,this problem will occur.
  5. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    terrizzi sez:
    Anyway, as I am playing I am getting dizzy.
    It sounds to me like an improper use of how you use your air.
    Playing in the upper register isn't hard. Generally there appears to be two types of players who can play in the upper register:
    1)Those who use excessive mouthpiece pressure and put a grunt and strain on their faces as they fight to push too much air through the horn (as Al Innella stated earlier). Their faces are reminicent of a baby straining to poop.
    2)Those who make it look like it just another note and their faces seem almost emotionless.
    Try this:
    1)Watch Alison Balsom, Tine Helseth, and Rafael Mendez on Youtube.
    Notice their stance, and their faces.
    Do you see them looking like they are trying to squeeze a load in their diaper? Well no, of course not. Their faces are almost emotionless, right?
    2)Practice your upper register in front of the mirror and make sure your face stays calm
    3)Work on your breathing. Read rowuks' circle of breath and watch Urban Angas video "Flow".
    4) Read Arch tongue and Hiss
    5)Imagine (yes imagine) when you play that your sound is like a lazer beam coming out of the horn. Look at something at a distance and play to it.
    6)Don't tense up when you get it correct!!
    Hope this helps
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I'd rather watch Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severinsen and Harry James on Youtube.

    How about this one: put the horn up to your face and play, and forget about the mechanics, just play and make music.

    There is the concept of paralysis through analysis - the very act of thinking about whether or not you are tense while playing by default introduces tension into your playing. And for the record, there is no such thing as playing trumpet without tension - it can't happen. It's a physical impossibility. What we are really striving to achieve is balanced tension so that we stay within the boundaries of what the body can handle and it feels natural. Playing trumpet is not a natural action of the human body - it's completely foreign, so we have to do what we can to make it feel like it is a natural thing to do.

    Going back to the comment about tension and how it's necessary, think about walking. Even when you are taking a nice relaxed stroll, there is a constant flow of tension and and release - the trick is that it's just enough to acomplish the task and the tension is released as soon as the work has been done. Do you think about what's going on physically when you walk? No - you simply do it because you've been doing it long enough that it feels natural.
  7. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    trickg sez:
    I'd rather watch Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severinsen and Harry James on Youtube.
    Those are also good choices to watch for examples of what the face should look like when used in a jazz format.
    Trickg sez:
    How about this one: put the horn up to your face and play, and forget about the mechanics, just play and make music.
    To this I disagree. I see no signs or previous posts that would suggest that this person is a "Paralysis from Analysis" type. He told us a fairly "run of the mill" the problem.
    What you're suggesting is exactly what he's doing and, in doing so, dizziness occurs.
    In time, maybe this individual will be seen as a "overthinker/underachiever."
    However, time is the arbitor on that one. Let's hope they take what they've read, and apply it for a reasonable length of time(at least a good honest couple of months).
  8. Satchmo Brecker

    Satchmo Brecker Piano User

    Jul 19, 2010
    I'm not sure about tension causing LESS blood to your head. I would say make sure you don't have high blood pressure. Increased tension could cause increased blood and blood pressure in your head, causing what feels like dizziness, headache, etc. I personally have high blood pressure and I know exactly when I'm pushing it too much in the upper register (which isn't too "upper" yet but still). For me it's the back pressure from the mouthpiece (or whatever part it is)...trying to force too much air through too little aperature.
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I really dislike the way you quote - there is a quote feature after all. You should learn to use it.

    Getting back to the subject, the OP opened the thread with this:

    So right here we've got someone who flat out says they are thinking about the physical aspects of playing the trumpet, and that by default tends to introduce pressure, or at least causes more analysis into the mechanics of playing, and especially when working toward a register that takes a fair amount of tension and compression to achieve. It's also clear that they are fairly new to playing the trumpet, or at least to studying specific trumpet playing methodologies.

    My vote would be for the OP to take themselves back to something a bit more standard where playing and technique is concerned with some of the older tried and true methods, and to not worry so much about the double octave range until they have some of their other playing under control. In my experience, I did a lot of my best playing where I focused a lot more on the sound and the music than on the mechanics, but hey, what do I know? Don't take my word for it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating after all and if the OP is doing just fine playing and performing already, then they can completely disregard anything I've posted here.
  10. kcmt01

    kcmt01 Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 25, 2009
    Polson, MT
    Make sure you're getting rid of old air before taking a breath. Lungs full of CO2 will make you dizzy.

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