Starting again - advice on tension appreciated

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Harky, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. Harky

    Harky Pianissimo User

    Feb 22, 2013
    Lancaster, PA
    Hello! I am new to the TM forum and am looking forward to a wonderful experience. I played for about 40 years - college, community theater pit orchestras and community bands all the while taking lessons from a local pro even as an adult many years ago who was a student of CG. I have been away from the horn (for the most part) for about ten years. Early on i was a 'stretcher' and a 'pusher' as a result of being initially taught by a junior high band director. I did everything wrong, I swear it... and am still fighting those old habits. In high school the stretching stopped as I was turned to the Gordon method - focusing the muscles of the lip and face in and forward, deep breath, pedals and so on. I never had any endurance at all and my face always hurt as well as never getting above a high D consistently. To today's point - I never, ever played with that soft relaxed lip that is talked about. So.... now is the time to learn all over.

    Thanks to Rusty Russell's post and those related to the "relaxed vs. tense" embrochure set, using the lip as a cushion with lots of air I have tried this totally new way of playing (for me) for the last three weeks. So far so good and have gotten to a never before heard resonance and no fatigue what so ever, but...(there's always a 'but') I can't seem to get above second line G without the old focus and tension creeping back in. I know we have to keep the air from leaking around the chops and all but am having a difficult time wrapping my brain around the notion of focusing/tensing my facial muscles (per CG) and STILL keeping that tension out of the vibrating part of the lip. I'm guessing this is one of those 90% brain things. I am pretty stubborn and will keep with it, but I could really use some encouragement and thoughts about this notion and how to get over it from someone who has gone down this road before.

    Thank you so much for wading through this, my first post.
  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Go ahead and apply some "tension" for the higher notes, just keep it as minimal as possible.
  3. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    Yeah, what he said. Just enough to get the job done, and as you practice and remove the things you shouldn't be doing, the high notes will come.


    JNINWI Piano User

    Apr 26, 2011
    Tense up your right arm, really tight, and at the same time leave your right wrist and hand totally relaxed, unconscious relaxed…… go ahead try it ! THAT is the feeling ! SEE, you CAN do it : ) It took consious thought to do this right ? Now with total concentration… work on transferring that feeling to your lips…. you haven't tried this yet, and need to teach yourself to do this so be patient with it…..
  5. sounds7

    sounds7 Forte User

    Sep 4, 2004
    New Orleans
    When I started using a lot of tension I didnt understand the underlying cause of my embouchure dysfunction at first but in actuality I had "Overuse syndrome" where my chops would swell up badly from all the pressure. Sometimes they would even turn blue! I was also using my throat because if I didnt my chops were not strong enough to contain and control the amount of air I was using.All these things I was doing kept me from going forward as a player so I began to rehabilitate by focusing on the support muscles in and around my embouchure and by focusing on correctly setting my chops in the right position, flattening my chin and using more breath support. I transferred the pressure by squeezing my butt cheeks and legs when I play and that helped. raising the horn higher and tilting the head back assisted in not closing my throat for the high register. If you or anyone else has these symptoms I strongly suggest you read "Broken Embouchures" by Lucinda Lewis.
    I also high recommend "A new approach to Altissimo trumpet" by John lynch as well as the "Carmine Caruso trumpet method"
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  6. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Welcome to TM, and the advice you see above this rely is a great example of the fabulous input you will get from our members. Since I really can't add anything better than this, I will just leave you with, Welcome again to TM.
  7. bob zack

    bob zack New Friend

    Dec 23, 2008
    Suggest you sit yourself down in a recliner, lean back with your feet up and your trumpet in hand. Relax and start playing long tones at ppp levels. Concentrate on extremely full, soft, tone. Remember to keep feet raised up on the foot rest.
    Mix it up with slow full tunes at very soft ppp levels. Work your way up in range and observe where your air is coming from. DO NOT use your feet for any support..keep them off the floor and play as softly as possible. When that light bulb lights, you'll know what to do.

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