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Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by pmjinla, Dec 17, 2014.
Get out and run ... 15-30 minute easy jog .... then pick up your horn and feel the magic
I have often encountered this in students who have been playing too loud for their strength and have blown their lips apart.
Result: Airy sound, no upper range, no stamina.
Cure: Set you embouchure correctly (as it was before the marching season), and start off by playing more gently (quieter melodies).
How long has it been since Marching band? One possibility is adaptation of you embouchure to a performance demand to playing loader with a mouthpiece bouncing around on the mouth while in motion. In the static position, different muscle groups are likely at play, and it takes about 6 weeks for muscle groups to adapt to change. My response is to wait a bit and see were you are in a couple of months... and of course, continue to work closely with your teacher.
In parallel with my thoughts as well. Just read this after I entered my post.
Heck, after I run 15-30 minutes, I feel the magic with or without the horn. My favorite sporting event when in high school was being on the Cross Country team. I never felt better than back in those days.
I'm going to respond to this because with the gigging I do, what you are dealing with is something I deal with a couple of times a year - additional pressure creeps in due to a lifetime of bad habits combined with a gig where I'm playing amplified on a mic with a lot of high energy playing.
In your case, just having come from marching band, there are a few (to me, pretty obvious) things that could have gone on with your chops. For starters, marchers often tend to use a fair bit of pressure to help deal with a horn that is bobbling around from walking around while playing, regardless of how hard we might work on our roll step technique. In addition to that, there is often a lot of tension that comes into a player's playing from having to hold the horn out at an angle that might not be optimal for their particular embouchure - the neck is craned back, the shoulders are tight, and all of this compromises good breathing as well.
But getting back to my own situation, I'll get to a point where just in order to produce a note, I find I'm using to much pressure from the get-go. Typically I notice it most at the end of a gig where I'm starting to have endurance issues that are directly related to playing with too much pressure. It's confirmed in the practice room where I'll try to play a soft long tone, and while working to reduce pressure, the sound will break down into a nasty double-buzz.
So how do I go about fixing it? The answer is pretty simple - I go back to fundamentals. Low, soft low tones with good breathing and posture where I work specifically to pull pressure out of my embouchure setup. Initially it can be a bit frustrating because as soon as I try to reduce pressure, the double-buzz breaks in. I just keep working through it, reducing pressure a little bit at a time through a series of long tones (usually on a low C) until the chops focus without the pressure and I get a clear, focused tone. The first day is all about getting the pressure reduced and getting that clear tone, but sometimes it can take several days of working it before it's really starting to clear up and the chops are starting to focus again.
When it comes to things like this, I don't use specific books or exercises - it's just me and the horn, and I'm really focused on what's going on between me and the instrument. Don't get me wrong - books and the exercises they contain are valuable tools to develop embouchure strength, and technical and musical technique, but this is a unique problem where I believe that you really need to get down to basics, and really pay attention to how things feel and sound between me and the horn. The first time I did this, I did it in the dark so that I could really focus on what was going on, and let my sound be a guide.
Once you start to get your sound back without using pressure to focus the embouchure, work in some basic tonguing exercises. (I'm of the belief that good articulation is in part due to good air usage, which in turn helps to focus the chops) And don't rush it - keep things right in the staff below tuning C for several days in the practice room if you can. There are two fundamental things you are trying to do here:
1.) Reduce mouthpiece pressure
2.) Get the embouchure to focus
To do this, I try to keep things as relaxed as possible, and pushing your chops before they are "fixed" will only delay the progress.
Get lots of rest in between your long tones while you are working on this, and if you can, try to get your chops working again before you turn your attention back to other playing.
If you decide to take this bit of advice - my own methods for dealing with what appears to be the same issue you are dealing with - run it past your teacher to see if they are copacetic with it. They may have other things they want you to do, but I've been playing and gigging for a long time, and this is what works for me.
Sorry to hear about your problem. There are lots of interesting replies and a lot of good people trying to offer help.
You just came off of marching band, and your chops are showing signs of abuse. I suspect you're either playing too much or you're playing in a destructive/non-productive way.
You say you're practicing 2 hours a day. That's not necessarily a good thing. If you were a runner, and you recently broke your ankle, would you try to keep running 2 hours a day in spite of this injury? Of course not. Right now, your chops are hurt. Continuing to play in the same non-productive manner may not be helping you at all. Trumpetsplus, Trickg and Gmonady (Ivan, Patrick and Gary) made some great suggestions.
Hopefully, you can make some progress over the Christmas/Holiday break. Best of luck.
EDIT: Clarified my reply a bit.
Marching band ended on November 22nd(today is December 17th).
My plan is exactly that. I am going to spend almost all of my practice time on fundamental exercises. Thank you for the thought out response!
Just keep in mind that often times it's just as much in how you practice as it is in what you practice.
Your situation is one of the reasons I've come to really dislike mandatory marching band for high school students. I know it's tradition - I did my share of it in HS too for competitions, football games, parades, etc, (and I certainly did my share of it as a military musician) but for me marching and playing was always a pretty serious compromise on my chops due to some of the things I mentioned in my earlier post about craning your neck, getting tense in the upper body, using too much pressure and playing with a horn angle that wasn't how I normally played.
It's good that marching is done for you, and once you move past this obstacle it should be easy sailing for the rest of the year.