So what really gives you better endurance?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trickg, May 25, 2010.

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Before I start this, I wanted to point out that I did a search, but couldn't find any current threads to tag onto that I felt matched well enough.

    So, my question is this: what is that really gives a player better endurance?

    The usual responses will be similar to the following:

    "Practice lots, but make sure you get plenty of rest."
    "Long tones."
    "Flexibilities and lip slurs"
    "Use less mouthpiece presssure."
    "get brand 'X' horn and a 'Y' mouthpiece."

    I've begun to wonder about the subject of endurance due to my own endurance and playing in the last year or so on the gig when compared to what I do in the practice room. More and more it seems that I have more than enough endurance on the gig, and I've got plenty of gas left at the end of the night, and yet, I'm not really practicing any more than I ever have in recent years, although I have structured my practice a bit differently.

    So what's going on here? If I'm not practicing or playing 2-4 hours a day, (not to mention taking several days off here and there) and I might actually be practicing less now than I ever did, why is it that I still have plenty of chops left at the end of a long gig and my playing might actually be better now than it used to be?

    I have a theory, but I'm curious to see what others come up with.
  2. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
    HI, Pat!

    The only thing I can really say for sure impacts my endurance is the amount of playing I'm doing at that time. Generally my endurance goes up in December, and again in May, and to a lesser degree, in March or thereabouts. The obvious reason for me, is that that's when all my groups seem to have most of their concerts, and I'm most practiced and have had the most intense rehearsals.

    Too much of a good thing can hurt, however. One December a couple of years ago, I must have overdone it and hurt myself a little in the chops, and lost A LOT of endurance, which impacted adversely my first time playing the Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre Nutcracker. I found I couldn't get through two performances of the ballet without getting too tired, using my usual huge mouthpiece, and had to sacrifice some tone by going to a smaller (for me) 'piece.

    The year after that, however, I was fine, playing with my usual equipment. The difference? I didn't kill myself playing high and loud in a band concert the next year. This past year was fine, as well.

    Bottom line, endurance comes from strength developed by playing properly. Lack of endurance comes from not playing enough to develop the strength, or playing too much, or playing wrong, and hurting yourself. Don't DO that!!

    Guy Clark
  3. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    That's a really good question.
    "Endurance and its relation to practice time".
    I think to begin to answer this question, separating musicians into at least two categories could be a start.
    1)Those that have to be told to go and practice and are still battling with many of the dragons that we have learned to control. Those dragons for example would be:
    mouthpiece pressure, how to breathe correctly(whatever that is), type of mouthpiece, which horn sounds the darkest? which horn sounds the brightest, can I play in the upper register using the corners of my lips? and the list goes on. They are hopefully heading towards practicing effectively.
    Now for the next type of player:
    2)Those that are COMPELLED TO PRACTICE.
    This level of player has a routine for practicing that he/she has designed.
    Knows that things like mouthpiece pressure, breathing, all the fundimental dragons are never conquered. You just learn to keep them at bay.
    This type of player plays every day because they have to. They are compelled to do so. They are usually always ready for a gig because they are always in shape. They have learned to PRACTICE EFFICIENTLY.
    As for you?
    Have you been recording your gigs and practice sessions and evaluating the results?
    As for me?
    I can't skip several days, my DNA will not permit it.
    Last edited: May 31, 2010
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Interesting posts.

    It seems to me that bulk time on the horn leads to better endurance due to the fact that through constant repetition a certain amount of efficiency comes about. I am beginning to think that endurance is directly linked to efficiency, and that you don't necessarily have to practice or play a lot in order to achieve it.

    Over the last year or so I started to take note of a correlation between articulation and basic lip slurs to focus of my chops, which in turn correlated to my endurance. Another observation has come from the fact that if my focus isn't good, I'm usually using a bit too much pressure, and if I'm doing that, I have a hard time getting fast single tonguing in the staff to speak correctly. I find that if I practice a few basic fundamentals - and I'm not talking prescribed exercises, just stuff I make up on the fly - the amount of mouthpiece pressure I use decreases, my focus tightens up, and I wind up with better endurance on the bandstand.

    The key point in all of this is that I don't practice for hours and hours to accomplish this. I practice maybe at most an hour a day combined time, spread out just a bit to allow for rest periods, and that's usually after not playing Sunday, Monday, and sometimes I even skip Tuesday. This is for weeks where I have back to back Saturday night gigs. When I have a week off, if I get busy it's not unusual for me to skip an entire week before getting back to it. For the most part my practice is not for improvement - it's for chops maintenance only.
  5. mchs3d

    mchs3d Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 30, 2005
    Provo, UT
    I would say that endurance comes from enduring.
  6. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    That's it in a nutshell. Good breath support, and playing for hours on end at a sitting will result in increased endurance. You can't run a marathon if all your training is sprints.
  7. Fluffy615

    Fluffy615 Piano User

    Nov 30, 2006
    New Jersey
    I have found over the years that my chops are always better when I play a lot. Not just practicing at home, but performances. It seems that the more time I spend with the mouthpice on the chops, the better I feel. I mean over a period of time, not many hours a day with the horn on my face.
    After seeing Maynard for the first time live many years ago I met his lead player at the time, Stan Mark. He was nice enough to talk to an awe struck high school kid. I asked how can I get chops like his. He told me to play a lot of hymns and marches. There's two kinds of music that keeps the mouthpiece on the chops!!
  8. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    No, but I know people who have done marathons who prior to running the marathon never ran anything longer than 12 miles, but aside from that, is chops endurance really related to running endurance?

    Something else that might be affecting it is that after several years on hiatus, I started exercising regularly again - lifting weights, biking and running on occasion.
  9. mrsemman

    mrsemman Piano User

    Apr 8, 2010
    Lot of great advice here, I started my second comeback about two months ago. Up until then, the longest I could play was about 30 minutes. Since reading your posts and following your advice, I now play practice an hour and then some. Some of the things I do are: 1) taking my pinky finger our of the hook, so I won't pull the horn into my lips; 2) do a slow and steady warm up for about fifteen minutes with b reathing exercises during my rest periods; vary my technical work with jazz tunes; 3) practice tones very lightly while trying to achieve the sound I want; and 4) take short breaks in between to practice sight reading while singing (and I use that term loosely) the notes.
  10. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    IMO endurance is enhanced when the adrenalin begins to flow while performing in a gig. You know all the techniques and they just flow as second nature without thinking about them. However, in practice we focus on a lot of insignifcance that becomes monotony and drudgery. The latter is a lot like reciting the alphabet a zillion times ... which I'm certain you know very well ... and then ask yourself how many of the trumpet skills do you also master and what do you think of repeating such a zillion times. Sure now and then as a maintenance check-point is OK, but over and over and over ad infinitum and I personally wouldn't want to play at all.

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