Silent Brass reistance harmful or not

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by jdostie, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

    Feb 20, 2008
    So I got a silent brass system so I could practice without disturbing my wife, and so I could try to get some practice in at lunch time at (or near) work . . .

    Anyway, I tried it last night, and there is quite a bit of resistance. Now, some of the things I noticed during my practice I am attributing to the silent brass (as a combination of my stamina, technique, and a factor of the resistance) because I did not have such problems last time I practiced without the mute (or at least not as bad).

    What I noticed is that in double and triple tonguing exercises, as I went say above D - and I think this was worse I got more fatigued, I got something of a raspy tone - though if I played a long tone I didn't seem to have that problem. I may have been "muddier" on the tonguing, but that may or may not have been by trying to go faster than I am ready for.

    I also noticed that I wanted to use more pressure, and lower in the register. I had to be very conscious of the pressure and concentrate on trying not to press too hard - and to back off on the volume as I reached for B or high C toward the end of the practice session. I know a number of you will say that's a good thing, and I am working on that as well, it's just funny that if I am having trouble with range, my natural inclination is to try harder/louder, or whatever, but if I back off, it comes out nicely - if quietly.

    So my question is: Is the resistance a bad thing, or just something additional to overcome? Will it help build my stamina, and thereby range etc? Or will it build bad habits in terms of too much pressure?

    I know that I want to play without this as much as possible in order to hear and adjust tone, etc. I am just wondering what the thoughts are in that regard.

    I've probably said a number of things that you'll want to jump on, and I'm interested in them all, but for the purpose of this post - primarily about the back resistance of the silent brass.

  2. Etjoeflo

    Etjoeflo New Friend

    Feb 8, 2008
    I live in the dorm rooms at college so if I want to play everyday then I have to play with the silent brass mute. It is very hard to play with the mute in since I am learning how to play Carnival of Venice. I can't double or triple tongue as well and I get tired a million times faster.
    I just finished up playing in a production of Guys and Dolls and during the warmups I noticed that my range had greatly improved. My tone was slightly better however I don't have much to compare to since I play with the mute 90% of the time. Stamina improved as well. All in all I would say the mute has allowed me to get back in the game after a two year break of playing. The downside however is that whenever I had to play a solo in the play I would really have to focus on the note because I almost always tended to overshoot it due to the huge amount of resistance that I was used to. Other than that I guess it helps:dontknow:
  3. skuni

    skuni Piano User

    Jan 20, 2006
    Raleigh, NC
    Are you using the headphones with the mute or just the mute? I have had some bad times, similar to what you described when I just used the mute. Using the headphones at an appropriate level should alleviate some of the problems. Also, try to find some time each day to play without the mute. Good luck and keep practicing!
  4. brem

    brem Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 13, 2007
    Quebec City, QC, Canada
    I find the resistance minimal....
  5. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

    Feb 20, 2008
    Yup, using the headphones, at a volume where the metronome (plugged into aux) is a comfortable tick in my ear.

    I don't think I'm pushing, I 'm pretty sure I would know (except maybe in the higher register) . . . My other mutes straight and harmon (two piece metal type) definitely have less resistance.

    It's not like I can't play, but everything is just a bit more difficult, as I described above. Could be my imagination, and last night was a bad night . . . but I don't think so.
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The resistance is only harmful when you try and blow the mute up.

    The most productive practice with any practice mute is done playing softly. The resistance that you perceive comes from 2 places, the slightly increased airflow restriction and your brain trying to capture audible signals/feedback and telling your body to blow harder. This is the same source of "stuffiness" when we play a horn unmuted outdoors at a lake or big field where there is no echo!
    A relaxed approach makes this mute magic. Anything less can make it hell!
  7. Sterling

    Sterling Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 22, 2007
    Marcellus, NY
    I agree with rowuk. I use a Denis Wick practice mute (when I have to for hall duty at my middle school!) and play Clarke studies quietly for evenness and velocity. It's a nice change of pace and students passing in the hall don't believe that I'm playing.
  8. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.

    In addition to Robins comments, I find some other things about the Silent Brass that stand to be examined closely. I have found in my 'comeback' that the Silent Brass has been of immeasurable help, once I chucked the junk headphone set that came with it into the bin. I use a set of stereo headphones from Radio Shack that work just great. I turn the volume up until I am forced to play very softly and have found that my tone and range have vastly improved.

  9. brem

    brem Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 13, 2007
    Quebec City, QC, Canada
    What I like with the silent brass is that I can actually hear myself as I would if I were in front of my horn, which is, without the use of a mic, virtually impossible.
  10. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

    Feb 20, 2008
    Thanks for the responses:
    From what I am reading, it seems unanimous that despite what I am feeling, I am trying to "push" too hard/play too loudly.

    I am thinking this is part of what I am tentatively thinking of now as
    "Control Problems/Unfamiliarity with how playing X feels" whether that be a certain pitch, intervals, volume and the like.

    I wonder if the comeback player is disadvantaged in certain ways because of what he assumes he should be able to do/remember, and the interesting things I am finding relatively easy, and those I am confused why are difficult.
    For example (without mute) yesterday evening I kept trying to play softly, but in concentrating on the intervals, or tonguing, or whatever, I would suddenly realize that my volume had increased - not to blasting, but to my most relaxed natural volume . . . which is fairly loud/full. Somewhere between what I think of as mezzo piano and mezzo forte.
    Similarly, in some of the interval slurring studies, especially with alternate fingerings I am finding it much more difficult to do 16th's and triplets, yet on the adjacent notes (to either side) it's easier.
    Or, just sometimes trying to play a note especially in a large interval, I might reach too high just as easily as too low. I was reaching for high C the other day, and went a bit higher (I didn't know I could do that at this point), and yet I might as easily have a hard time reaching the high C. When this happens I have to consciously relax, and it becomes easier - almost by accident.

    So, it sounds as though the silent brass is amplifying not only the sound, but my control issues.

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