The Room

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by gms979, Nov 7, 2005.

  1. gms979

    gms979 New Friend

    Jun 3, 2005
    Greetings again,

    So, here's another question for people....kind of related to the whole "playing soft" discussion. While trying to get to the root of why I fell into the mf-f trap in the first place, I began to think about the acoustical environments I did much of my playing in. As a teacher (with 40-45 private students between trumpet and piano), I do a TON of playing in a room that is - I measured this - 6.5 feet by 6.5 feet.....with soundproofing on all four walls. Bottom line, I can play fff in there, and it might sound mf at most to my ear, because so little sound is reflected back. It can really mess with my head.

    I also do a good chunk of time in a normal sized room in my house (maybe 12 by 20 feet or so).....which creates a much more normal environment for my ears.

    So if you all had your druthers, what kind of room do you prefer to practice in? I had a teacher in college who preferred to teach and practice a small dead room because he said it gave him the most unfiltered and unenhanced (and consequently the most accurate "raw sonic material" to work with) version of sound, as compared to a rehearsal room or hall. Another teacher felt the exact opposite. It might be a loaded question, and maybe one with no answer...but what kind of room do you think is the most conducive to improvement and giving a realistic, real-time feedback of how one is "really" sounding?

    Thanks, folks - hope life is treating everybody well!

  2. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    I love my living room! That's the nice thing about having the family at school (my wife is the string orchestra instructor at my kids' school) during my practice. It's a very nice size and I can really let go when I wish.

  3. Billy B

    Billy B Pianissimo User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Des Moines, IA
    I practice in different rooms. My kitchen has a lively sound, the living room less. Doc likes to practice in his bathrom. Sometimes I will walk around the house while playing or even point the bell a few feet from a wall.
  4. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    Personally, my garage (!) is the best room "in" the house. It measures 24' X 24' with a 10' high ceiling. Concrete floor, very lively gyproc ceiling and oodles of resonance. The horn responds VERY nicely in there due to the feedback.

    In the winter, however... the garage is frequently below freezing... WELL below freezing. At those times I will use the living room ("L" shaped about 30' X 30' X 18' X18' with a cathedral ceiling that varies from 8' to 10'. The usual furniture & wall to wall carpet. It is a very close second to the garage but less resonant; for practice, probably the BEST place (I still love the resonance in the garage).

    When the kids or wife are using the living room, then I'm stuck in the TV room. Low ceiling and I have to sit with my bell almost up against a wall (too lazy to move the music stand into the middle of the floor...besides the music stand is close to the computer and I like to practice for 5-10 and then read/type for 5/10). That S*CKS! Too close to the wall to get any resonance and the horn responds very poorly as a result.

    Our band room is a H.S. bandroom (we're community band) and it is pretty decent if a bit small for our band. Our performances, however, are held in a performing arts hall that was designed for stage plays & etc. Heavy, deadening curtains that wrap around both sides of the band: the percussion back "behind" an overhanging curtain that buries their sound. We HAVE to play up one dynamic to be heard by the audience.

    Yep, challenges abound and the room makes one HECK of a difference.
  5. loweredsixth

    loweredsixth Pianissimo User

    Mar 11, 2005
    Fresno, California, USA
    I actually have my own practice room. There are very few things on the walls, and virtually no furniture (a wooden table and a chair.) The sound is very resonant and open feeling. I love it.

    Dead rooms literally make me want to stop playing (too much effort with no payoff.)

    Joe Lewis
  6. murph66

    murph66 New Friend

    May 16, 2005
    I practice in my bedroom- a regular sized about 15 x 15.

    I dont have a music stand and practice sitting on the end of the bed with my music laying next to me. My dog, a peke, often jumps on the bed and lies there while I practice. The only problem is that when I want to practice longer than she wants to listen, she wanders over and lies down on my music.
  7. gregc

    gregc Mezzo Piano User

    Apr 5, 2004
    New York, U.S. of A.
    I have 2 rooms I practice in:
    1: my bands rehearsal space which is 12x20 and deader than a door nail. This works great for R&R band rehearsals but is awful for trumpet practice. I can literally feel the sound deadening panels suck the sound right out of the horn. You have to work and play hard just to hear yourself.
    2: I have a spare bedroom, over my garage, typical dormer sized/shaped BR. For some reason, it is also very dead. I'm going to rip the carpet out and put some wood flooring in to make it a little more alive. I'm hoping that does the trick, because.....
    Where I get my weekly lesson: my teqacher has this great practice/teaching studio attached to his house... wood floors, vaulted ceiling, and it sound fabulous. However, it's so alive and the feedback so immediate I'm ALWAYS taken back when I begin start to play there.It's always an adjustment. I can't believe the apparent volume (I'm playing way too loud) and ability to hear EVERYTHING there. Yea, I need one of those.....
  8. Kevin Hilman

    Kevin Hilman Pianissimo User

    Jan 24, 2005
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Like Tootsall I prefer doing most of my playing in the garage because of how lively it is. I get way too discouraged when I play in dead environments and always find that I tighten up in an effort to put more energy through the trumpet.

    BTW...In my last house I actually made the largest room in my basement into a music studio with hard wood floors and everything. The only reason I wouldn't recommend this is that when it came time to sell the house it was difficult for laypeople to see the value in having a rather cold, resonant room in the basement. They wanted a cozier, family room type space.

  9. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    I'm rather fortunate...I can get into my auditorium at school on Saturdays when nobody is here or in evenings after marching band during the summer months. I also live about 15 minutes from a good music school that has 3 performance halls (2 concerts halls and one recital hall). Usually one concert hall is open if the facility is open. My band room is not the best, but better than my living room. At home, I love playing in my long as nobody else is home. If so, I go upstairs to our bedroom (short ceiling, carpeted, very dead space) which I do not enjoy playing in, but I can close the door and have concentration in there.
  10. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    I think it’s worth highlighting several comments in this topic that have a common thread:

    • Dead rooms literally make me want to stop playing (too much effort with no payoff).
    • I can literally feel the sound deadening panels suck the sound right out of the horn. You have to work and play hard just to hear yourself.
    • I get way too discouraged when I play in dead environments and always find that I tighten up in an effort to put more energy through the trumpet.

    These comments are all very telling of how important sound feedback is to the majority of players. When the sound feedback goes away, the natural tendency is to work harder to achieve that same sound feedback that you are accustomed to hearing from behind the bell. This is the instant when we become our own worst enemy related to ease of sound production!

    The resonant, vibrant core sound that we are all trying cultivate in our daily practice has a chance to reflect back our ears in an ideal practice space (the more resonant the better – bathrooms are great for occasional sound check-ups). The sound that you are hearing in this ideal space is the closest to what you want your audience to hear. It is very important to “feel†what it is like when you are producing this sound.

    When you get into your regular rehearsal environment or those outdoor concerts, the “feel†should remain the same. The feedback that your ears are receiving is going to be very different in rooms different than your ideal practice space. You have to avoid the temptation of getting it to sound the same in these different environments. I always used to overblow when I found myself in an ensemble unable to hear myself as well as in my own practice room. When I did this, I would destroy the feel that I had worked so hard to develop in the practice room!

    As an example, try blowing as hard as you would in your “less than desirable acoustic spaces†while you are in a great acoustic space. What do you hear? Well, guess what? That ugly distorted sound is what your audience is hearing! It takes a lot of practice to believe that your sound will carry out to the audience when you are not able to hear yourself as well as in your practice space.

    These words have been very helpful to me:

    From David Krauss:
    …consider playing less loud and more resonant…

    From James Thompson:
    Get the resonance and don’t push the volume. The louder you play it just doesn’t work.

    From Marcel Tabuteau:
    The louder you play, the less it carries! In my opinion, the quality that carries is the amplification of the dolce tone.

    Use this information to your advantage. We are all smart enough to understand that dead rooms are going to wreak havoc on our sound production if we try to generate the same sound feedback that we expect in a great acoustical environment. Move from room to room in your house (with the bathroom being the baseline for great sound feedback). Keep the feel the same as you move to the kitchen, family room, bedroom, and closet. You have to focus on feel, and not sound feedback. You know how great it sounds in the bathroom. If you keep the feel the same, intuitively you know that it is going to sound just as great in the closet, or outdoors with a similar “dead feelâ€. Cultivate the feeling!

    I hope these ideas will help you transfer your practice room sound ("feel") to all of your public performances.

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