The effect of the room on your ability to play

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Edvard22, Sep 2, 2011.

  1. Edvard22

    Edvard22 New Friend

    Jun 28, 2010
    So school is starting back up and, ill be honest, i've hardly been practicing over the summer. It's not that I don't want to, its just that whenever i practice at home, all the notes just sound absolutely horrendous and crackly. For some reason whenever i practice at home, i just sound awful and because of that, i play horribly. Then i went to band orientation the other day (I'm section leader, but we hold orientation in the summer every year for the freshmen) expecting to sound just as bad. After talking for a while with the whole band and practicing a little marching procedure we finally broke off into sections to play for a while. The trumpets got to practice on the stage, thank god.

    So there i am, standing in front of my section expecting to sound completely terrible as i prepare to open with a solo (the opening to a simplified "Time of my life" for football games). I put my lips to my horn and start to play, and i'm completely surprised by how i sound. Not only are the notes resonating, but i'm able to hit all of them with good pitch and articulation. With this short burst of playing, my confidence is back up and i'm back to playing the way i know i can, albeit with a significant reduction in endurance (i'll work on that).

    I guess my question is this. I know the acoustics of the room you play in have an effect on the tone and resonance of the horn, but do they also have an effect on how well you're able to play? I mean, i know when i play a scale in my living room it isnt going to sound as beautiful as it does in the band room, but i swear this summer i was practically unable to play the scales at all at home. Then when i finally got to play in a good acoustic environment, i was able to play almost as well as i had at the end of the last school year.

    So i'll stop rambling now, and just sum it all up. Does the room you play in not only have an effect on how you sound, but on your ability to play?
  2. frankmike

    frankmike Piano User

    Dec 5, 2008
    wow, nearly the same thing happened to me (check my topic on throat that is too opened)

    It has nothing to do with acoustics of the room.

    Something is hindering you while you are at home -maybe subconciously you think that you will bother someone (neighbour etc..) -and then the tension kicks in

    but when in rehersal room there is no such feeling

    I think thats the reason
  3. Mamba21500

    Mamba21500 Piano User

    Feb 26, 2009
    I can understand if your tone is slightly different in a different acoustic and doesn't ring as much, but it sounds to me that you're suffering from chronic laziness. Pick up the horn, and play. How can you possibly be a section leader if you won't practice at home? Be ashamed of yourself, you should be setting an example to the younger trumpet players, there's not excuse for not practising. If you think you sound bad, it's because you're playing in a room that gives good feedback, and that's what your tone is like.
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The room is a very big factor. Small rooms dump the sound into our ears very quickly. Audio engineers call this "early reflections". This immediacy actually serves to confuse the brain about where the sound is coming from.

    Bigger rooms have a combination of early and late reflections. The combination requires less processing power from our brain. We are more comfortable!

    That has NOTHING to do with practicing though. When we are in a small room go into one corner and play softly towards the opposite corner - that at least increases the reflection time a bit.
  5. Edvard22

    Edvard22 New Friend

    Jun 28, 2010
    Uh, wow, thanks. I practice at least an hour every day after school. What I meant was that I sound horrible at home, and that discourages me from playing. What's my motivation to practice if no matter how hard I try I just sound terrible? But when I finally got back to the room I usually play in, I was back to playing the way I should.
  6. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    You also mentioned in your opening post: "...ill be honest, i've hardly been practicing over the summer... While I do agree with Rowuk's comment that the room can be a factor, perhaps having the motivation of getting back in the saddle again and playing a little more than you did over the summer, has once again better toned your lip muscles to produce a better tone.

    To prove me right (or wrong), how does your tone sound NOW upon returning to your "summer" practice room?
  7. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    If you are practicing in a small bedroom with wall to wall carpet, drapes etc., it is likely soaking up the sound and you are getting little "echo" (probably like playing in a closet full of clothes). Also, you probably are not supporting your sound as well -with the room causing you to play more softly than in the band room. Keep at it. It will get better.
  8. glorybe

    glorybe Piano User

    Jul 29, 2009
    For me the worst is an open field with grass and no buildings near by. The sound of a horn that has no reflecting surfaces near it seems so weak and thin even from strong players. A player standing shoulder to shoulder with you that plays out of tune can tend to pull you off of tune. But a player who plays well and in tune can actually make it easier for you to play as it will pull you towards his good sense of pitch.
    One thing that impresses me is some of the old wooden buildings with plain wooden floors can really make music come alive. Some older churches asn dance halls can just take you to a new level and the audience feels it as well as the players.
  9. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Yes, it is amazing what room acoustics can do (or not do) for you. I remember playing beside a lake once. The sound just disappeared. Such situations create an environment to make you over blow. Drains the chops,
  10. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    In recent months I have been in search of an appropriate building to rent for music practice of a small group, mostly students but also the potential of a place in which a performing ensemble could get their repertoire together. In this area there are many OLD and empty buildings and spaces, a few with ceilings as high as a concert hall and while a few of these met sound specs I desired, either the cost was over-budget, the parking space and security poor or the owner would not provide or allow lease hold improvements such as HVAC and the necessary amenity of a bathroom.

    Still, it was a 75' wide by 100' warehouse which I liked best. I didn't have any way to measure the ceiling height, but would estimate it to be more than thirty feet along the sidewalls beneath the open trusses of the ceiling supported by a 2 rows of columns. With me was a trombonist and we played a duet. His comment of, " ... almost as good as the church." summarizes my thought. The problem was that at our expense we would have to dig a well and install a septic tank and field. While we believed that may be doable with more investment on our part, the cog in the works came when we thought about when the farmers were in the surrounding fields operating their equipment and though just a mile outside Jackson when the cotton gin was operating. I can still hear it inside our house with the buffers of two story commercial buildings, and a thick copse of woods. Still, what impressed me was the flooring. The last time I saw floors like these was in a former munitions factory where they once used steel wheeled carts. They were end grain maple hardwood. Thus, no sparks from the steel wheels as might occur were the floor concrete. The owner had no idea about the history of the building.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2011

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