Relaxed breath and valsalva maneuver, concentration and calmness

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by mptrumpet, Jun 18, 2015.

  1. mptrumpet

    mptrumpet New Friend

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    Hello fellow trumpet players!

    I'm struggling quite a while now with my trumpet playing. I've sought help with my teacher, but it's hard to get answers from someone who never experienced any problems of this kind. I think I'm doing (I'm pretty sure) the valsava maneuver, when playing the trumpet. I have big problems starting a phrase, I just can't bring myself to start with a sure tone and sound, I'm always hesitating and missing the first couple of notes. I've been avoiding tonguing also, because it became such a big issue. I can play quite well legato, but when the tongue comes into play it all becomes so hard. And it just became a problem that isn't acceptable any more. I read many posts about this, but haven't found any good suggestions or exercises to get rid of this.
    I'm also very interested what you guys think about concentration and calmness.. any suggestions how to work on that too (yoga, meditation, autogenic training)?
    Thank you for your help. :-):-)
     
  2. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    Welcome to Trumpet Master. Sorry to hear about your issue. Where are you located?
     
  3. mptrumpet

    mptrumpet New Friend

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    Jun 17, 2015
    I come from Europe, Slovenia.
     
  4. gunshowtickets

    gunshowtickets Forte User

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    Do you do any weightlifting (olympic or powerlifting)? If not, ask someone who does either of those two disciplines what they do to "brace" or inflate their abdomen. I fear what I type will not translate well. Valsalva will provide you the support, but you have to hear the entrances in your head before you start to play.

    Your problem, however, sounds more psychological, either anxiety or ear-training related. How long have you played?
    Is your "teacher" a private instructor or are you in school and your teacher is simply your band director?

    I'm sorry for answering your question with even more questions.
     
  5. mptrumpet

    mptrumpet New Friend

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    I'm studying trumpet at a university. I've thought about my post all day long and I think you may be right, that I have psychological issues. I think my subconscious tries to deny that. I have problems when performing in front of strangers.. you know the usual stuff you face, but somehow the thoughts really turn against me (shaking, uncontrolable jaw movement). And I also think that over the past couple of years I embraced playing with fear of other people's (even my) opinion, also the fear of playing something wrong. And I just can't bring myself to be relaxed when playing. To answer your question: I've been playing trumpet for around 10 years now. I'm open minded to any thoughts.
     
  6. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    Difficult to do something at long range, but here is something that has worked for some of my students in a similar predicament:

    Hold a drinking straw in your mouth with your lips and blow out gently. When you are accustomed to the feeling of blowing this freely, immediately replace the drinking straw with your trumpet and play a note, without tonguing, making sure to recreate that same feeling.
     
  7. gunshowtickets

    gunshowtickets Forte User

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    My personal pre-game routine: just before a performance, especially the ones where I'm 1st, or better "solo" trumpet/cornet, I tell myself, "I am KING OF THIS GROUP! I don't care who anybody else thinks is the leader, I RULE THIS GROUP." Works every time. Inflated egos are hard to tear down, especially when you back it up.


    Now, if your anxiety happens for sight reading or if you haven't rehearsed your part enough, I don't know what to tell you. Regarding sight reading or transposing on the fly, I can do it, but I have to concentrate until smoke comes out of my ears. I thought this shortcoming was my own psyche beating me until I read some blog about another trumpet player who also is dyscalculic (dyslexia with numbers) having the same issues with sight reading. Dealing with it from that point of view is a very personal endeavour, but it's also a barrier you have to tell yourself you will and are overcoming.
     
  8. mptrumpet

    mptrumpet New Friend

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    Thank you both for your answers.

    I found some good articles about the valsava effect with tips and exercises.

    I actually have more problems when playing solo with piano. Playing 1st chair is not really a big issue and since I'm more of a classical trumpet player, I don't really need to sight read that much. About the ego thing.. I'm somewhat of an introvert and it is really hard for me to get my head around it. It's funny because when I was younger, doing everything else than playing trumpet, I was always trying to be a ''showoff'', doing stupid things and being ''brave''. But as soon as I picked up the horn, I suddenly became the modest guy, playing well, but was never trying to prove myself or to show others ''who's the boss''. And over the years I think the modesty evolved in to fear, always worrying about hitting the right notes and others opinions. I think it is part of our national mentality.
     
  9. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    There is an excellent book by Timothy Gallwey entitled The Inner Game of Tennis. His website is: http://theinnergame.com/
    Also a good thing to practice is Rowuk's "Circle of Breath." Practice breathing in and breathing out; our inhalation and exhalation should be seamless.

    Keep us posted on how things are going!
     
  10. vern

    vern Piano User

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    I've struggled with this problem of starting the first note (I call it "stuttering") for many years and continue to do so. These are various techniques that have variably worked for me:

    1) Nod the bell as a visual clue
    2)Breath attacks on first notes during practice
    3)Toe or heel tapping on the first note
    4)Mentally imagine blowing out a candle when starting the first note of a phrase
    5) "Counting down" or counting off before the first attack
    6)Mentally picturing the breath as one continuous cycle in/out with no stop instead of a)in and b) out
    7)Take a very full breath at the start (one that would be difficult to NOT immediately exhale)

    I periodically go through periods of stuttering and need to try different techniques from time to time. I believe this is a very common problem and wish you the best of luck with it. :D
     

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