Stamina & Endurance

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by LuckilyCarolyn, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. LuckilyCarolyn

    LuckilyCarolyn New Friend

    May 4, 2010
    Northern Minnesota
    Alright, so as a high school trumpet player, I just don't have as much chops as some people- and thus my endurance just isn't where I feel it needs to be. I'm in marching band, and it only takes so long for me to NEED to drop it down an octave, and for a while I wasn't able to pick it back up.
    Recently I've been trying to make sure I practice every night after my 4 hours of rehersal. I go through most of my practice routine, but usually my chops are pretty sore before I can get to the last part, which is music rehersal. So I figure I shouldn't overdo it, and quit then.
    After i started doing that, I usually have to drop the octave around the same time, but I can go up again in about an hour- but then need to drop down again.
    So now that you know most of the information, haha-
    1. Should I not practice after a long rehersal? It's helping now, but will it do damage later?
    2. Should I change to a lighter practice routine? I still do long tones, scales, tounging exercises, clark studies, lip slurs, and flexibility exercises, but should I change it to less? Should it be more of just a warm down later?
    3. Should I skip these late night practice sessions and move to more of a post rehersal warm-down and call it good? I still want to get my technique practice in, which won't happen rehersaing the same 4 pieces over and over, but should I skip it, or try to move it to early morning practice before rehersal instead?
    I'll probably have the same issue when the school year starts by having 3 hours of band durring the school day- and need to know if i should squeeze my practicing in in my lunch hour and warm down after my final class, or continue the same routine.
    Thanks to anyone who cared to read through the rambling and reply =]
  2. Pete

    Pete Piano User

    Nov 17, 2007
    1. You should not practice on tired chops.
    2. If you are doing 4 hour reheasals, a warm up before is enough.
    3. The same 4 pieces? If you can get your necessary maintenance/acquisition practice in before, do it. Pacing yourself with equal rest and play is a good thing. It reinforces the feel of playing on fresh chops. Play 20 minutes, rest 20 minutes. While practicing, listen to yourself, as ridiculous as this sounds. If you are playing in a large group inside or outside, we tend to want to play louder to be heard. This is where endurance is lost. Remember your feel in practice sessions and do not overcompensate for the difference in volume with the large group. The trumpet sound carries further than you think without overplaying. Top players such as Wayne Bergeron, and Roger Ingram suggest playing at 80% physically. Sometimes we try to play at 120%, and this is the kiss of death!
  3. Asher S

    Asher S Pianissimo User

    Sep 20, 2009
    Suburban Boston
    Maybe I'm off base in saying this, but I think it is sad that posts such as yours seem to be more and more common, and I sympathize with your predicament.

    What is sad is the pressure (implied or real) on our musical youth to reach near-professional skill levels in such a short time, i.e. less than 10 years. I think it invariably backfires, both physically and mentally.

    Perhaps I was just fortunate that I was allowed the time to progress at my own pace when I played 1st trumpet all through high school in the early-mid 1980s. I enjoyed (and still enjoy) playing music. I hope your high school experience will do the same for you.
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Wow - I have a couple of thoughts here.

    For starters, I've never been a fan of marching band - it just seems to me that so many kids do more damage to their chops than anything else while doing it, and the long rehearsal times and hard blowing have got to be doing a real number on whats going on between your chops and the mouthpiece.

    I agree with Pete - don't practice after you've already beaten your chops up. That would be like doing a full gym workout after playing a scrimage game. Your chops, like anything else, need rest after a workout.

    My advice to you until marching season is over would be to get a good warmup where you focus on soft long tones and soft playing, and only cover the basics. This will hopefully keep you from developing a mouthpiece pressure problem.

    Second, don't blow yourself out in rehearsal - save it for the shows. If you have to take stuff down an octave, do it. If your band director gives you a hard time for it, say "yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir," and then when he's no longer paying attention to you, take it down again.

    Absolutely warm down - soft, low long tones with reduced mouthpiece pressure are a good way to do this.

    Learn to listen to what your body is telling you. If your lips are sore, they are telling you that they need a break, and continuing to pile on more playing will do more harm than good.

    Good luck with it!
  5. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Recently I've been trying to make sure I practice every night after my 4 hours of rehersal.
    The most important factor in practicing isn't the mechanics, its making sure that you are doing "QUALITY" practice and not "QUANTITY"practice. All the practice in the world will do you no good if its just mindless practicing. Generally, we bring to the stage what we practice. You don't want to get to the point where your cycle between practice and performance is a case of garbage in, garbage out. Students will often fall into frustration and say "I practice all the time but I'm just not moving along like I should"
    Use of time in the practice room will not make you better. Intelligent use of time will make you great.
    1. Should I not practice after a long rehersal? It's helping now, but will it do damage later?
    Damage? Let your body determine when you've had enough. I almost always practice after a long gig if time permits. Sometimes its just light soft leadpipe playing but I almost always practice after a performance.

    2. Should I change to a lighter practice routine? I still do long tones, scales, tounging exercises, clark studies, lip slurs, and flexibility exercises, but should I change it to less? Should it be more of just a warm down later?
    You have to ask yourself, "what is the genesis of your inquiry?"
    What's really the problem?

    3. Should I skip these late night practice sessions and move to more of a post rehersal warm-down and call it good?
    Again, you need to ask, "what sent you to TM"
    OK Here goes:
    1)Pick up your trumpet and put the mouthpiece against the lips just enough to create a seal and blow a few notes.
    2)Now, pull out the tuning slide and buzz a "SOFT" steady tone.
    3)Once you get the tone where it goesn't quiver, slowly press the mouthpiece against the lips.
    4) You'll hear your pitch go up as you add pressure and go down as you reduce pressure, right? If not, you are already pressing too hard.
    5)Next, blow out the lips like a horse and buzz the leadpipe again. Remember, just enough mouthpiece pressure to create a seal so the air won't leak out.
    6) This time, use the corners of the lips to raise and lower the tone.
    Now you see how easy mouthpiece pressure can get in the way.
    You also now know what muscles to use to play the trumpet.
    You can also check yourself about excessive mouthpiece pressure by reading Mouthpiece Pressure Assessment.
    Here's a great exercise that will help you with strengthening those lip corners:
    Practice doing lips slurs (soft and light) using the valve combinations:
    Practice each valve for an (honest) minute everyday. Do bugle calls and make stuff up. Just make sure to go as high and as low as possible without sounding sucky for an honest minute. That's 7 minutes in total for all valve combos. If you do these, they will kick your butt big time since you're using the correct muscles (corners of the lips instead of your arms).
    The upside is that you'll be a lot better trumpet player by Christmas and I feel many of your questions will be answered by:
    a)Using the corners of the lips instead of the arms to change the pitch.
    b)Doing the 7 valve combo exercise an honest minute everyday.
    c)Learning more about air.
    Be sure to not to fall back into the same old habits of excessive mouthpiece pressure when you get mentally or physically tired!
    Next, "AIR"!
    Watch Urban Angas videos on "Flow"
    Read Rowuk's advice on Circle of Breath
    Hope this helps
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2010
  6. Scatmanblues

    Scatmanblues Pianissimo User

    Jul 19, 2010
    West Texas
    Some really excellent advice above from a playing standpoint. I'll address another consideration in stamina and endurance: your marching mechanics. I've chopped this from several of my other recent posts about this.

    If you want to build chops and endurance for marching season, you should be spending as much time working your marching fundamentals as your playing fundamentals. I saw nothing in your post to indicate that you are doing any work to build your core stability and marching fluidity, and those two things are the KEY to marching and playing without beating your chops to death. It's also something you can do after a long playing rehearsal when your chops are tired/shot.

    I don't care how good a player you are, if you can't isolate your shoulders/arms and head from the rest of your body while marching you are setting yourself up for endurance and chops problems -especially with the lead book.

    Quick test -find a big mirror and face it. Now, put your horn in playing position with mouthpiece to chops. March 8/5 towards the mirror at a moderate pace.

    Watch the top of your head and the bell of your horn in the mirror. If you see any bouncing at all, there is a part of your endurance problem.

    Focus on the feel of the mouthpiece on your chops. If you feel your steps AT ALL on your face, or sharp jabs, or an uneven distribution of pressure that moves around as you march, there too is an even bigger part of your problem.

    If you've got a bounce in your marching step and you can feel the movement in your face, then essentially what you are doing is taking a large metal object and pummeling your lips while you try to make them do very fine-grained things with your playing. A bounce in your step will affect your playing and endurance dramatically. Think of it like trying to write a note to your friend while riding in the back seat of a car driven down a bumpy road. What would your handwriting (another fine-motor-control behavior) look like? Same thing with marching and playing.

    Your goal should be to march towards the mirror and have no visible bounce in either your head or horn. When you can do that moving forward, then do the same marching backwards. Then work crab steps. Then march forward and backward parallel to the mirror, but with your upper body turned towards the mirror going in both directions. Then practice making direction changes without letting the horn bounce or move or feeling any pressure changes on your chops.

    Now, some tips for how to get there:

    1. Your hips are key. If you lower your hips even a little while moving it will allow your legs to absorb more of the shock of the steps. Stiff legs = bounce. You can still maintain an upright posture in your back and shoulders while doing so.

    2. Stretch, stretch, stretch. The more flexible you are in your legs and lower body, the easier it is to move fluidly and twist into position. You'll be amazed how much easier it is to turn your shoulders perpendicular to your hips with a week or two of good stretching exercises.

    3. Build your core. Strengthen the muscles of your core with solid exercises (plenty out there such as Yoga, Pilates, or if you don't want to do that good old-fashioned push-ups and sit-ups) and they will improve your stability and allow you to march longer with less fatigue. It will also improve your balance -a key factor in staying stable while playing and moving. Another trick to work the core and improve balance -stand at attention with the horn in playing position. Now, pick up one foot and put it next to your other knee with your toe pointed down. Stay there for 5-10 seconds, then alternate feet and do it again. The goal -as always- is to be able to move from foot to foot and have no movement in the horn or head.

    4. Perfect your glide step. You want to move lightly ACROSS the field, not step ON the field. I don't know which type of marching step your band teaches, so I can't give you specific advice, but a universal truth is that the goal is to tread lightly, rolling from the heel to the toe smoothly, with as consistent a step as possible. You should be able to close your eyes, put your horn to your face, and march 8/5 for 10-15 yards and land within an inch of the yardline every time. If you can march that far and accurately with your eyes closed, you'll know you've smoothed out your step and balance.

    5. DON'T EVEN BOTHER PLAYING WHILE DOING ANY OF THIS UNTIL YOU HAVE ELIMINATED THE BOUNCE!!!!!! You have to march and play at rehearsals, fine, but while doing this individual practice you want to build GOOD habits and only put the playing to the marching AFTER you have built a strong foundation of marching fundamentals. Even after you have gotten comfortable and stable you should practice marching alone every day to maintain the body and muscle memory.

    6. Introduce playing the horn slowly. Start by doing straight marching while playing long tones. Listen for wobble in the pitch from your steps and focus on being as smooth as possible. Don't move on until you can play scales in whole notes with no wobble while marching. Then, do the same with half notes, then quarter notes, then eighth notes, and finally your marching music. Do the same marching forwards, backwards, while making turns, with crab steps, etc.

    I think if you spend time refining your marching, you'll be amazed at the effect on your playing. A smooth marching step means you're doing much less work (both physically and mentally), leaving you more energy and focus for the playing and musical aspects of the performance.

    Now, a bit about the demands of rehearsals/performances across the season:

    I recommend you back off in rehearsal and just really focus on a pretty, in tune sound. That can never hurt, and if you get grief, I suggest just explaining that you want to "lock in" your part in your ear and fingers so that when you play louder it will sound that much better. A director should get that, and if your peers don't, then you don't need to worry about their criticism.

    Just a question/idea for you. How many trumpet players are on the lead book in your band? I'm guessing all of you are feeling a bit gassed at this point. If your director insists on "hearing" the lead part every time, you might get together and trade off playing either louder or up the octave. If one of you is loud/up the octave and the rest of you focus on providing a solid mf lower octave that is in tune, it will still sound good, each of you gets some rest, and the part is covered. You can do that anytime to conserve chops. If your director want multiple run-throughs, you are inside on a rainy day into hour three of a marathon session, or you get to play your show before, at the half, and after every football game you can really save yourself some wear and tear by laying out occasionally. There's no shame at all in being smart. Even pros trade parts regularly in ensemble settings and take parts down the octave in rehearsals and run-throughs.

  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    China just called - they said they want their wall back. :-P
  8. Scatmanblues

    Scatmanblues Pianissimo User

    Jul 19, 2010
    West Texas
    Only if they agree to cut production costs by 20% on the next model and give me a 15% commission on all future sales of that and similar walls. :D
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    There is no way of knowing how much that you can get away with. Of course, if you improve your breathing, and marching mechanics as Scatman says, then you have much more left over for getting better. There are periods in life where we need to accept that we only have resources available to MAINTAIN what we have. Getting technically better simply has to wait until the comprimising factor is reduced. There is NOTHING slowing down your chances to become more musical though. Make sure every note you play means something other than max volume. Analyse the phrasing, natural accents, if it is a pop tune, read the lyrics to determine articulation. Knowledge is power and playing "with" the music works much better than "conquering" it.

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