Technique for Practicing Quietly

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Ric232, Oct 4, 2010.

  1. Ric232

    Ric232 Pianissimo User

    Apr 30, 2009
    Coastal GA
    I'm working more on practicing very quietly to build my chops, but also to improve my overall playing. When I do this, I'm mostly playing easy tunes or hymns. I practice as quietly as I can (using good breath support) while still keeping a sound going. Most of the time, there is a double buzz going on and some cracked notes. I figure it will get better if I keep working on it. QUESTION: Is this a good approach or should I play a little louder to the point where I can eliminate the double-buzz and cracked notes and then gradually decrease volume/loudness as I get better at it?
  2. fraserhutch

    fraserhutch Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 23, 2004
    Novato, CA, USA
    My belief and experience is that you play as softly as you can maintaining a good sound.
    If you have a double buzz and cracked notes, you are likely playing softer that you are ready to. If you practice a double buzz and cracked notes, you are teaching yourself to play cracked notes with a double buzz.

    My experience, FWIW.

  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The consummate trumpeter needs it all and therefore has to practice it all.

    As most of the ensemble playing that we do is not at full blast, rather at the lower volume regions, we should stretch that side of our playing. I do not think that it is musical to play at single volumes. We need to move with the intentions of the music - perhaps dramatically scaled back, but NEVER in a static fashion.

    Quiet playing allows us to play with less pressure, with greater endurance and in a more sensitive way. It demands great control of the face, rewards proper practice with very responsive chops. The rest is common sense!
  4. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Good advice all around -- I'd add that as you play at a softer volume, you need to adjust other things. Simply reducing the air-flow/air-pressure to get a softer volume results in the sort of thing you're describing. The pressure must remain but the amount of sound needs to be limited to achieve a good soft sound. One way to improve on what you're doing is to not even play easy melodies, but to play a single note, 2nd-line G for example, as a series of long tones, experimenting with your embouchure, your breathing, your mouthpiece pressure, the mouthpiece angle on your lips, your posture, to get a pure and quiet trumpet tone. Once that is achieved on a single note, then expand up and down in an ever widening way -- G, G#, F#, A, F, Bb, E, B, Eb, C, D, C#, C#(low), E, C(low)
  5. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight Pianissimo User

    Apr 7, 2010
    I would love to see more responses here on how to play softly. I think I need some kind of feedback as to what is softer, other than what I can obvsiously detect. For example, I was considering getting a decible meter of some kind. We use a metronome for timing that has helped me hugely. Anything wrong with a decible meter to provide feedback in this area?

    The suggestion about starting off with controlled long tones is great. Keep it coming.

  6. fraserhutch

    fraserhutch Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 23, 2004
    Novato, CA, USA
    Being an old Claude Gordon student, what I did to learn to play softly was Clarke studies, as softly as I can but always with a decent tone. It has always been stressed to me that sound and centering were of vital importance. If you get that down, the ability to softly will come.

    I have never heard of anyone advocating playing inaudibly, and I wonder what the benefits would really be. Since so much of our sound concept comes from between our ears, how can you maintain a decent sound if there really isn't one?
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2010
  7. ska

    ska Pianissimo User

    Sep 12, 2009
    Playing long tones with the sweet beautiful sound you are looking for - and then playing some melodies, slow ones, and then a bit faster ones. For example : Somewhere over the rainbow is a nice tune, I used to use it to practice silent playstyle and controlled ornamentation (impro). But the idea is clear: Look for a beautiful tune to play, listen to how the fluent trumpeteers play it and listen to the sound and work your way from there.
    Long silent and controlled tones (no vibration) is an excellent way to develop silent playstyle and as a byproduct you gain more control, cuz the quieter you get, the more control you need.
  8. chet fan

    chet fan Piano User

    Jul 3, 2009
    maybe Ill steer a pot here, but when I play soft, I change my embouchure so that MPC is on the RED

    amd it is more puckered, that way I got more of the soft tissue to vibrate, because there is less air flow, the tissue that needs to vibrate should be the softer one
  9. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    I was looking into dB meters myself last night. I ran into a problem at my last gig --- since my hearing is subpar --- my audiogram says I need at least 40 decibels to hear anything - in my good ear (most people only need 10). The problem is -- I don't really know how loud or soft - I am playing -- I play softly about 4 feet from a wall when I practice. That way the sound bounces back, and sometimes I can even hear whether I am in tune -- yeah!! it is not just volume problems, but also some tones where my hearing is inadequate.

    I had a fellow stand at the back row while I warmed up (to report a decent volume to me). because the auditorium like room was big enough where I couldn't hear the feedback to determine how loud/soft I am -- but I suspect I am louder than I can hear, I also had difficulty with hearing the tone.

    .... I suppose people will ask -- why do you play trumpet if you can't hear it that well
    (because I am a trumpet player -- that is what I like to do) --- and with some practice to feel the buzz (and work with my tuning meter), it seems that I can feel a good tone -- even if I can't always hear it.
    the sound, the applause, the feel of the buzz of the lips, the breathing, the low notes, the high notes --- I AM A TRUMPET PLAYER --- WHAT COULD BE BETTER THAN THAT????
  10. ska

    ska Pianissimo User

    Sep 12, 2009
    Hmm, there are hearing aids - you know the little things ppl put in their ears to amplify the soundwaves. Altho, I wouldn't recommend buying those hearing aids you see in common propaganda ( top shops and other stuff like that ) - have an appointment with the specific doctor and work your way from there.

    Also, this is used in singing, cover one of your ears, and talk or sing a tune, you should hear your voice in your head -I tried it with trumpet - when I play and cover one of my ears I can hear the trumpet in my head.

    Then again I didn t fully grasp the gravity if your hearing problem - maybe the covering of the ear won't amplify the sound for you, or maybe the haring aid won't work for you.

    Also an another idea - perhaps your ears must be flushed, that usually helps the problem unless it's not about your ear, but the part of the brain that regulates your hearing.

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