Steps to improvement?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by snazzypadgett, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. snazzypadgett

    snazzypadgett New Friend

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    Oct 13, 2009
    I'm a bit frustrated due to my experience with the trumpet today. For the first 3 days I got it, I practiced over 2 hours and saw great improvement, and was able to play the G under High C pretty decently (though it was tiring!), and I labored through playing every note from low C to that upper G several times for good practice and getting the notes.

    But today...I feel much worse. Maybe it's just the 'lip muscles' people refer to, but I can barely even hit the E at the top of the staff! It sounds like a pathetic puff of air! I don't feel sore like I did yesterday (yesterday, I was sore, very--first time getting sore there), so I feel like my muscles should be at the top of their game again. It doesn't really hurt so much to try and play the high notes, I just can't anymore. Also, the mouthpiece kept slipping off of my embouchure. Is this just a lack of muscle?

    So I played only an hour today, and much more lightly. It was disappointingly bad :/. But anyway, what steps should I be taking to improving my chops out of noobie-land? I've already got the harmony/ear/theory background set, I just need plain old chops, which I assume comes from plain old hard work, which is why i'm practicing so much. Am I doing the right things? Just playing a hell of a lot of notes every day? Scales/Long tones?

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2009
  2. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

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    If you can hit that high starting out it seems to me like you are somewhat of a natural at this and can get very good if you stick with it.

    I don't have a ton of tips for you (im sure others do) but I would definitely not play that much after first starting the trumpet. I'd say for the next few days until your lips feel like when you started I'd practice maybe 15-20min max. From there I'd say to slowly start increasing the practice time to build up those muscles needed for longer practice or maybe even stay around 15-20min for a little while after you get your old lips back. You can seriosly hurt you lip muscles or affect your playing in a negative way by overworking your lips all the time.

    It's ok not to start out with hours of practice early on. It shouldn't take too long for your lips to work there way up to longer practices, but the one thing you don't want to do is hurt your lips which in the end will cause you setbacks.

    Keep in mind that range isn't everything also while you play. If you are still new to this you need to focus on your tone just as much if not more. It sounds like your practice techniques are on the right track though. I'd maybe try some same fingering slurs up and down too or work on some actuall music if you can, but right now it sounds like your doing good.

    I'm not sure where you are with your playing so forgive me if this is still not your begining stages of learning the trumpet but that is the feeling I got from your post. Hope some of this helped.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2009
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    For an anologue, if you are not a jogger, go jog two hours a day three days in a row and let us know how your legs feel.

    At the beginning, we just want to make the muscles tired. If we exhaust them during the session, there are plenty of "wrong" muscles (the famed "suck" muscles) willing to take over.

    Start with, say, 15 minutes a day, touching all the basics, then add a minute or two each day to your routine. In three months you'll have achieved a solid practice program while letting the "suck" muscles continue to atrophy.

    Spend that remaining time listening to music with trumpet. (I would suggest staying away from jazz solists, because they have their own distinctive sounds.) Listen to Maurice Andre and other top soloists, the Chicago Symphony and other major symphony orchestras and some of the great British brass bands (the New York Salvation Army Band is top-notch!).

    Down the road you can work your muscles to the state of exaustion (but not beyond!) and you'll know where they sit on your face.

    I applaud your enthusiasm and dedication, but urge you to be patient and wait for the miracle!
     
  4. RHSbigbluemarchingband

    RHSbigbluemarchingband Mezzo Piano User

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    Someone else might say it too but a private teacher is the best way..........
     
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with Vulgano Brother 100%. Any excess physical activity causes a reaction from the body. It is part of a warning system designed to keep us alive.

    Good habits, even musical ones are built up over months and years. If you have time to burn, play a lot, just more softly and in the lower register. Get a book of easy melodies (like a hymnbook) and just take it easy. Make sure that you are taking a BIG, RELAXED BREATH before playing anything. Trumpet is a wind instrument and we need to learn to blow, not to suck.

    Patience is your friend. Overblown ambition leads to destruction. If you have been bitten in a serious way by the trumpet virus, listen to your body. It will tell you what is good and not good. Your recent situation passed you a very important message.
     
  6. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

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    SP, I take it you haven´t been playing the trumpet very long.
    I think that in your eager to be a serious player you have been
    overdoing things a bit.
    When muscles work, the weakest muscle fibres break down.
    When you rest, that´s when muscle is rebuilt, and after rebuilding
    they will be stronger than before exercising.

    Why trumpeters are so affraid of resting I just can´t imagine,
    but you most likely need a day or two off . . .
     
  7. snazzypadgett

    snazzypadgett New Friend

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    Oct 13, 2009
    Advice taken. I took today off (well, played for 30ish minutes) and am planning on not playing tomorrow at all.

    As for the muscle hypertrophy thing the last guy brought up, I agree with that--muscle is built at rest, not while it's being torn. But I do also believe that strenuous work on these muscles will help them to develop much more quickly than they would for someone easing their way into playing, say 20 or 30 minutes a day for several months.

    I think I'm just going to feel these times when my muscles need repair, and when they're back, hit it hard again. Thanks for the advice, everyone.
     
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Slow down a bit here. The chops do not provide their function with brute strength. The smallest changes in tension produce those beautiful centered tones that we are after. If you treat your face like biceps, you will never get those fine motor skills required. A doctor does not lift weights to perform better surgery. You should not do the same with your face!
    That is the problem with a bit of knowledge. We suggest competence to ourselves. A slow methodical approach reaps the greatest benefits. There are plenty of snake oil vendors with double c tomnorrow recipes. Quality needs to be earned and that simply takes time.

    Trumpet playing is not sports and we need to be careful about how we view our bodies. They are not maschines, but a wonderful combination of fiber and intelligence.
     
  9. hichez

    hichez Pianissimo User

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    Jul 13, 2009
    Rowuk im no professional but from what I hear from professional machines people want to assume that musician are the next best things to machines. We are required to get 100% during performances. While that often doesn't happen its still quite inetresting.

    Also snazzy its better to work everyday for less time then take a full day off. That full day you take off nothing will improve at all. Even if you get fustrated just take it easy. Plus im sure that you can learn some practice lower ocatives or your major and mnior scales. Also their are modes and jazz scales to be learnt. Their are plenty you can do. It you tounging as crisp in your lower register as your middle and upper? Just play.
     
  10. snazzypadgett

    snazzypadgett New Friend

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    Oct 13, 2009
    heheh, yeah...I couldn't lay off today anyway, hichez.

    I played an hour and it felt like a very productive hour. I didn't push it, though I felt a good workout on my embouchure. I didn't play anything above the D at the top of the staff, as I don't want to develop bad habits this early on as some of you have suggested.

    My chops were back to feeling good today :). Good to know it doesn't take long for recovery. Now I'm just going to take it a little easier and not need a day of recovery like I did yesterday. I guess I recovered yesterday since I didn't play much of anything (about 30 minutes of poor long tones, haha).

    I think I understand how to practice now. It's just a feel thing! I guess it differs from person to person. Personally...I don't think I can just "be patient" and play 30 minutes every day for 6 months. I can only go at it hard :) So I'm going to play about 60-90 a day, and just vary the intensity of the practice in terms of chop development. I think I've got it!

    Now, I have another question to make a topic about...thanks everyone!
     

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